Has Gaucho Still Got It?
With so many new steakhouses popping up; how does the old favourite fare?
Gaucho is the quintessential international yet Argentinian steakhouse brand. It has been a staple restaurant in Dubai since it opened it's doors in the DIFC in 2011. There are no less than 15 Gauchos in the UK, 13 of which are in London. There is another in Buenos Aires and one in Hong Kong. They all have a consistency in style and food.
However, five years on the Dubai food scene is a long time, and when I visited last July on a Thursday night, I was left with a subdued feeling. The place was empty and the meal felt average for the price. I didn’t expect Gaucho to be around much longer. However, eight months on, it’s still going strong and it seems to have gotten a bit of its spirit back. But with competition coming from all angles, we want to know if Gaucho Dubai is still worth its salt in comparison with the numerous other steakhouses on the scene.
Steakhouses are pretty popular here. Among our favourites; there is Prime 68, Ruth's Chris, (which we recently reviewed and couldn't fault) and just around the corner in DIFC there is a fast-food steak place called the Steak House Bar where you can get a 220 grams sirloin steak meal for AED 119...Competition indeed.
A busy neighbourhood
Cipriani has just opened nearby and by all accounts, it has made a very good impression. With La Petite Maison, Roberto's, (which is still on everyones list of top restaurants in Dubai) not to mention Wheeler's, Zuma, Boca, Cle and Firebird at the new Four Seasons DIFC, the area has no shortage of fine dining options.
So how does Gaucho stay in the game?
By keeping it fresh while also sticking true to its origins. By refreshing the Friday brunch, (review below) bringing in concepts like Malbec week and the new vibrant Indie lounge upstairs, not to mention a new restaurant manager from the London Leadenhall restaurant to continue the Gaucho legacy.
This Gaucho has a stunning entrance by a glass elevator at the DIFC. Once inside, you step down into the restaurant to a long rectangular room, with crystal chandeliers with large circular tables. The design looks high-end, but it’s in tune with the roots of Gaucho. There are cow skins on the wall. In Argentina and Uruguay, a gaucho is simply 'a country person, experienced in traditional cattle ranching work'. The waiters wear the same uniform as in Gaucho London, that has recently been updated with a strip on the pants (how observant are we?!).
The Gaucho Friday brunch runs from 12pm to 4pm. It's not your typical buffet style brunch. It's a set menu with table service, and you can have as many dishes of the same course as you wish.
Seafood sampler: Tuna ceviche, seabass tiraditos, shrimp chicharron. All delicious - a perfect start.
Hot sampler: Braised short beef ribs, beef chorizo sausage and empanadas. I loved the beef ribs and ordered another plate, while my friend loved the chorizo sausage.
Mains: Beef - 300g of steak made up of three amazing cuts. Tira de ancho: Spiral cut ribeye, slow grilled with Chimichurri and a Bife de lomo fillet.
Sweet sampler: Chocolate brownie, Salted dulce de leche & hazelnut cheesecake (this is one of our favourite cheesecakes in Dubai!) and banana & coconut mess.
Live music throughout the afternoon
Conclusion and Details
At brunch, diners have three choices:
- The Asado: 320 AED Soft drinks and selected mocktails
- The Signature: 395 AED House beverages – selected wine, beer, cocktails and spirits
- The Virtuoso: 495 AED Premium beverages
I couldn’t fault the food, setting, service and atmosphere. On this evidence, there is life in the old cow yet!