"If you take the word steak out of the dictionary," said a friend of ours recently, "it's just a list of things that aren't steak."
At first we dismissed this as Malbec-fuelled bunkem, but the more we lay awake at night, tossing and turning and pondering his riddle, the more we realised it was a moment of Proustian clarity. Without steak, the English language is meaningless. Without the English language, civilisation is over.
Okay, okay, we're exaggerating. But deep beneath 55 Colmore Row, steak obsessives Gaucho have opened their 18th restaurant, and though it's not the binding force behind the Universe, it's quite something to see. Giant nods to the South American ombú tree are the focal point of the twinkly 117 cover, Argentinean restaurant. There's a 24 cover bar area that'll soon be serving snacks, but currently you'll need to rely on their main menu. Which brings us to...
Collar Group Executive Chef, Jamie Robertson, stick a Dictaphone under his nose and he'll break under questioning. His favourite starter is the tuna ceviche - a big-selling "hero" dish, whereas his favourite beef cut is the flank steak special, Media Luna de Vacio. If you're a steak purist the classic rump-fillet-sirloin-ribeye conundrum awaits, all free range, all Aberdeen Angus. And though we can't help you with the decision, we can recommend wines by region, all of the Malbec variety. Head Waiter Jean-Baptiste suggests the gamey, irony flavours of rump requires the minerality of Patagonian Malbec. Reds from Uco Valley are ideal for fillet fans, while sirloin (Argentina's go-to) needs a classic Malbec from Lujan de Cuyo. Ribeye-ites need something made geographically North and altitudinally high. Scour the menu for options from Colomé in Salta province, where the baking sun results in thick-skinned grapes with concentrated flavour, that can stand up to heavy marbling.
Post-work drinkies are big on Gaucho's agenda. You don't need to dine to stop by and the people-watching opportunity from the bar area is ace. The Beverage Director sticks his reputation on two drinks in particular of the 40-strong cocktail menu. The Bloody Shame — Reyka vodka, San Pellegrino Blood Orange, with rosemary syrup and Chandon sparkling wine (pictured, left) — is a zesty, zippy kiss — while the digestif cocktails deserve desserty attention. Winner, according to the expert, is the caffeine-charged Cafe de Leche (pictured, right) — Café Patron XO combined with Mr. Black coffee liqueur, Appleton Estate Rare Blend Rum, mascarpone and espresso, finished with grated dark chocolate. Yep, dessert drinks.
Gaucho's private dining room is a 300 bottle wine-walled option bookable for a minimum of six, and maximum of 12. Worth a mull for special occasions or if you're keen on beef masterclasses, there's no minimum spend and if it’s available, in short, you can have it. Which surely is how all private dining rooms should be run?
Gaucho, 55 Colmore Row, B3 2AA; 0121 439 9236; More
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