In lieu of Christmas presents, Hans and I decided to treat ourselves to a series of experiences. To date, this has solely been a trip to Gaucho, the “best steak place [he] has ever been to.”
After much procrastination, I made a reservation for a Saturday in December at 9.30pm. They managed to accommodate us at quite short notice which I was pleasantly surprised at. Easily pleased, me.
We wandered down Regent Street, commented on the lacklustre lights, went down a wrong alley, tied up my bike, and went in.
There was a bit queue in the main entrance foyer so Hans suggested that we went upstairs.
We were told to go back downstairs.
We waited. It was very warm, but baby so cold outside.
Earlier that evening I watched It’s A Wonderful Life at an outdoor screening (no, not the Victoria Park one). Hans texted me not to eat any popcorn. I didn’t; instead I just had a hot chocolate and a turkey casserole (it was free dammit!) and then shivered for an hour an a half as, despite being under a tent, outdoors in December is still outdoors in December. I gave a child two extra blankets and a hot chocolate. He and his mother called me kind. In this instance, I suppose I was.
The line inched forwards. There were several staff around but none seemed to be doing much. I feel someone should have directed people, or that there should have been a separate line to the cloakroom and to reception.
The interior was quite dark, well, black, so a classy dark rather than a dingy dark. There were also some cow hides around. Beautiful.
“Would you like me to take your coat?”
I have no idea why the person in front of us thought that two minutes would make a difference, but to each their own. I gave my coat and scarf, which I was advised to shove in my sleeve. I did, and did not lose my scarf. Success!
The check in was another success, albeit a confusing one, and we were taken up to the second floor.
Hans had never been to the second floor. What an exciting time.
The hostess was very nice. Apparently they had 1000 covers that evening. Hopefully that would mean good tips, I said to her, but she said that she doesn’t really get tips as a hostess.
“Can I start you with still or sparkling water?”
She’s not getting tipped either way so we’re not putting up pretenses about our means.
“Are either of you vegetarians?”
Oh how we all laughed.
“That’s good. The meat here really is very good. Daria will be your waitress. Would you like her to bring you the meat board?”
Yes, that is an irresistible proposition.
Daria quickly came over with the meat board and showed us the different cuts of steak, none of which I could properly hear or process. It was still a nice touch to start a meal with.
The host came back over.
“Sorry what was your name again?”
In mild confusion, I gave her my name.
“Don’t worry, we’re not going to kick you out.”
And she left. We never did find out what that was about.
The water came, and they quickly took away our wine glasses.
The table next to us were having salad. Thankfully this was just a starter and they were later given steak. Salad? At Gaucho? What a waste.
“The bread will come soon. It’s very good. And the steak! Yes the steak. And we need chips too, their chips are really good.”
“Do we both need chips? Should I get dauphinoise potatoes?”
We both ordered thin chips. And we ordered the tasting plate and trio of medallions which, if you are going as a pair, I would recommend as it means that you can try six different cuts of beef. I’m trying to cut down on beef as its environmental impact leaves a lot to be desired, but, hey, it’s Christmas!
The beef came, the bread didn’t. I asked about the bread. The chef who brought us the meat apologised profusely and told us that he was just a chef, not a waiter. I said that it was really no big deal. He continued to apologise and said he would sort it out. He did. The bread was a treat.
And the steaks were majestic.
Hans was right. Real melt-in-the-mouth stuff, with each different cut giving you a new and enchanting culinary experience. I would recommend burping afterwards as the flavour goes well both ways (comments like this mean that I will never be a real food writer).
We continued to chat long after finishing eating, topping up our tap water with the seemingly endless supply that was put on the side next to us.
I like the ambiance in Gaucho. It is perfect for a Saturday night when you kind of want to go to a club but also don’t like clubs. It is dark and all pictures that you take are either bad or terrifying. There are people everywhere but it doesn’t feel too close. You feel like you’re on an island, but could just as easily hit someone. Is meat madness? This paragraph suggests so. The toilets were good too.
Daria came over.
“Shall we do it? Shall we do dessert?”
“How good is the crumble?”
“It’s not my favourite.”
“I mean, it’s nice, but not my favourite.”
And that is how Daria unsold us a dessert and shorted herself on a heftier tip.
The best spent £40 on meat a girl could ask for. My flatmate was horrified that I would spend so much on a meal, lest a meal that didn’t include any alcohol.
This is the high life.
Hans missed the last tube. We walked back to Balham in the rain and I cycled back home in the heavier rain, arriving at 3.30am when the shard was illuminated red, white and green.
Clapham at night is frightful, but Gaucho is beyond delightful. There is a single tree in St James’ Park that is illuminated; I wonder what made it deserving of such an honour.
Is it my best steak ever? Possibly. My other favourite steak was at a place in Malta, though when my palate was simpler. This calls for another trip to Malta!
9/10 – a worthy place in lieu of a Christmas present
Gaucho, 25 Swallow Street, Mayfair, London W1B 4QR, and other branches around the place.