Restaurant Review: Gaucho Smithfield, EC1
�There are some meals that just demand you have a good time. Maybe the place is rowdy and fun, or maybe you are out with great company. But at Gauchos Smithfields, it’s the indulgent quality of food and service that mean you can’t fail to have a top-notch evening.
I first heard of the Gaucho group when I moved to London, and as it was a chain I wasn’t desperate to go.
However, I kept hearing more and more good things about the restaurants and it started to climb up my wish list.
Though there are 12 across the capital, every effort is made to give each venue its own feel –though one thing they have in common is cow-print furniture.
The Charterhouse Road branch we visited is smooth and slick – all black leather and glass with a soundtrack that wouldn’t be out of place in an Ibizian chill-out lounge.
One corner of the restaurant is an open kitchen, where the chef unloaded endless cuts of meat on to the grill where they sizzled away contentedly.
We sat down and were offered an aperitif. Some care had gone into the cocktail list, and we enjoyed tangy vodka and red berry martini and a wintery apple and cinnamon concoction, both of a very high standard.
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While we were sipping these, our waitress appeared with a tray of raw meat and described the different cuts, marinades and styles of cooking on offer.
We considered this as we chomped on warm breads and a chimichurri dip before deciding on a couple of light appetisers.
The juicy king scallops came with salty bacon and rocket, and were very satisfying, if a little lukewarm.
The chorizo, which looked more like a traditional British banger, was sizzling, however, and deliciously accompanied with sweet pepper.
When the steaks came out they were a glorious exercise in minimalism – a beautifully cooked 300g slab of fillet served alone on the plate. Not even a sprinkling of garnish detracted from its meaty eminence.
The sauces came separately – creamy b�arnaise and almost barbeque-esque peppercorn – as did the sides, a crisp green salad and firm broccoli swimming in a toothsome garlic and lime marinade.
Our waitress managed the neat trick of being knowledgeable enough to make suggestions without being intrusive.
The fruity Malbec she recommended was an excellent choice, and the Alsace dessert wine suggested for the cheeseboard cut through the thick Caerphilly and Tamworth with some aplomb.
An evening at Gaucho really is a special event – the attention to detail given to both the food and the experience left me feeling significantly more wealthy than I actually am.