*This was a gifted visit
I’m going to start this restaurant review off with a bit of a ‘thought’. I couldn’t help but think of this, which has stuck in my head ever since I visited Gaucho in Manchester last week:
In a city full of steak houses and premium steak restaurants, don’t forget about the original. The original will never let you down.
When I do my food and restaurant reviews on the blog, I try not to mention competitor restaurants. Just out of fairness of doing a solid review, focusing only on the restaurant in hand. But I feel like to get my point across in this review, I kinda need too.
So I’ll just say that with all these other steak places popping up in Manchester the years, like Hawksmoor, Fazenda, Alston Bar and Grill, Miller and Carter, it’s easy to forget which one turned our heads all those years ago.
I’m 32 and have been dining out in Manchester and working in the food journalism industry since I was about 20. Gaucho Manchester was always known for the finest steak in the city, and it continued to live up to this for many years. If a couple or a party were heading out to experience the highest quality food in the city, you bet they would (try) to book in at Gaucho. It gets busy, so you can’t just sit on it.
However, over the past 5 years I’ve heard less talk of the place. Mainly because of all the others popping up. I’ve dined at the others I mentioned (except one) and you know what, they were slightly disappointing.
I had high hopes for Hawksmoor, but my Christmas set menu was far from impressive. But anyway, moving on…
Myself and my boyfriend dined at Gaucho on a Saturday night, after having some drinks first nearby at Spinningfields. Our coats were taken from us upon arrival, and we were taken to our seat and talked through the wines and cocktails, before being left to browse the menu’s.
Within 10 minutes, the waiter returned to talk through the cuts of meats and types of steak available, which was perfect timing as we were getting stuck into the menu choices. I liked how he didn’t sit and go through everything with us, like reading from a script.
He didn’t want to waste our time – or his – and politely asked us what steak we would usually go for and what our personal preferences were, in which he went straight to discussing the leanest cuts.
Some of the steaks that were seasoned looked incredible – the Churrasco de Lomo was the one we were both lusting over. A spiral cut of meat, marinated in garlic, parsley and olive oil, just looked divine.
However, we went for the Lomo Fillet – one of the leanest and tender cuts with a delicate flavour. The waiter went through the different types of sizes of the steaks (as they come in grams, I was a bit unsure what to go for).
I didn’t want to over face myself, but I do like my food and often opt for large portions, so we decided to go for the 300g.
Get that portion of iron and protein in me!
Choosing a starter was pretty simple: anything with prawns usually jumps out at me. I’ve had a look at the menu online for Gaucho and for some reason I can’t spy my prawn starter, so many it’s a new one?
Anyway, hopefully the photos will give you an idea!
My boyfriend Martin went for the Seared Scallops, which came in little shells dressed with a black pudding and chorizo crumb and spiced orange butter.
Can’t fault the presentation of the food, and the portion size was more than ideal before we were about to get stuck into the steaks! My prawns were succulent, flavoursome and juicy. A great starter before a meat heavy dish…
When we ordered our steaks, we decided to share a side of Tenderstem Broccoli and a side of Mushroom Confit, coated in beef dripping, garlic, and chilli. We were also given the pleasure of trying out a range of the steak sauces. I mean, I’m always pretty straight forward – give me Bearnaise any day.
However, Martin was stuck between Blue Cheese and Red Wine, so they decided to bring us a sample of each, including a mushroom sauce too, with chunky slices of mushroom mixed into a cream sauce.
It sounds cliche, but honestly when the steal arrived, it was literally melt in the mouth. The texture, the softness, the taste… it’s actually quite hard to put into words how delicious and enjoyable a steak can be, but this was it.
It cut so easily, with no chewiness or tough bits. All this, and still full on flavour. I drowned mine with Bearnaise, although it didn’t need it for flavour, but I just bloomin’ love that sauce.
We finished with a dessert to share, a cute sized little cheesecake with caramel sauce.
Alongside our dining, we picked an Argentinian Malbec to go with the meal. The Malbec paired with the steak perfectly; it was smooth, strong and intense, without any bitterness.
I’d summarise by saying that Gaucho is more of a premium dining experience, without the pretentious vibe and atmosphere. You wouldn’t come to Gaucho when on a budget, although you could indeed do this, because some of the steaks – like the small rump – are as little as £15.
But when you dine here, it’s worth experiencing the best of the meat cuts they have to offer.
The Fillet Lomo we had was £37.50 for the 300g, and I would recommend it to anyone. Yes, you don’t have to spend as much on your steak, but if you appreciate fine meats, you could even go more experimental. I like the sound of the Churrasco De Chorizo, a spiral cut steak, marinated in garlic, parsley and olive oil (300g is £28.50). I’d maybe opt to try that next time!
The service was spot on, I couldn’t fault it. We were looked after from start to finish, and I saw the same treatment we received replicated across all the customers sat along our row, too.
So going back to the comment I made at the start of this review: Gaucho is forever my OG steakhouse. If you’ve forgotten about it, please re-remember. It’s literally a diners dream.
*You can check out the other Gaucho restaurants in the UK online here.