Gaucho Manchester is a sumptuous restaurant set in an old Methodist church with a beautiful art deco panelled ceiling. It’s famous for its Argentinian steaks and Malbec wine.
The steaks come from premium Black Angus cattle, bred in Argentina at hand selected farms where they graze on seventeen different types of grass from the Pampas provinces.
It’s not all about the beef, of course. A new menu launched last autumn includes a selection of ‘nuevo’ dishes including meat, fish, vegetarian and even vegan options.
But M Restaurants CEO Martin Williams estimated in a recent interview with CityAM that 90 per cent of diners at its 16 UK Gaucho restaurants eat steak. And when you see the beef board, it’s easy to see why.
Our server Adele talks us through the cuts. Cuadril, or rump, is the leanest cut and available in three weights. Ancho (ribeye), delicately marbled throughout for a full-bodied flavour, in two.
Chorizo (that’s sirloin steak, not the spicy sausage) comes in three weights with a distinctive strip of crackling. And lomo (fillet), the most delicate and the priciest, also comes in three weights.
Or there’s chateaubriand to share, the tender fillet cut slowly grilled and coming in two weights up to 700g.
But that’s not all. There is also a selection of special cuts. Picana comes from the top of the rump, while tira de ancho is a spiral cut of ribeye, slow grilled with chimichurri and available in two sizes.
Churrasco de chorizo or churrasco de lomo is a spiral cut of either sirloin or fillet, marinated in garlic, parsley and olive oil, while colita de lomo is a spiral cut from the fillet tail.
Can’t decide? A Gaucho sampler, consisting of 1.2kg of meat, includes four full steaks: the cuadril, ancho, chorizo and lomo. It’s £99.50, but ideal if your group wants to try a bit of everything.
There’s still more decisions to make, though. The steaks all come with either chips and thyme salt, or rocket and kale salad with parmesan and pumpkin seeds. Plus your choice of sauce: peppercorn, béarnaise, mushroom, blue cheese hollandaise, or red wine jus.
And then you can add extra toppings from truffle and black pepper butter to pan-fried black pudding or grilled Argentine red prawns.
Beyond beef, new mains include grilled swordfish with mixed bean cassoulet, palourde clams and grilled lemon; glazed pork belly with pickled cabbage, celeriac, cider jus and crackling; and a vegan pearl barley arrabbiata.
We can’t resist ordering steaks, though. Because 90 per cent of diners can’t be wrong, can they?
But first, starters. A new dish of fresh, zingy tuna ceviche is light and elegant with charred palmito (heart of palm), grapefruit, coriander, pomegranate and popping yuzu pearls.
Plump king scallops are served in the shell with blood pudding, spiced orange butter, charred orange, chorizo crumble and nasturtium.
The steaks live up to expectations. My rib eye is beautifully fatty and full of intense beefy flavour, cooked perfectly medium rare with a seductive char on the outside. The accompanying béarnaise sauce is rich and aromatic, spiked with a fragrant, aniseedy hit of tarragon.
Wine-wise we go for Malbec. Gaucho are so passionate about Malbec that in 2007 they bought their own vineyard, tucked away by the Rio Mendoza. Viña Patricia from the vineyard is rich and elegant with aromatic notes of violet and soft spice.
In addition to the extensive wine list, there’s also a Coravin system so you can push the boat out and try something special by the glass.
Desserts include rich, warm chocolate fondant, melting in the middle, accompanied by shortbread crumble and vanilla ice cream. Our server tells us it’s her personal favourite.
A silky smooth cheesecake is made with sweet, milky dulce de leche with a hint of salt, while a sticky sweet syrup and ginger tart balanced by mascarpone ice cream and orange curd.
Then for additional indulgence, there are dessert cocktails.
A bannoffee old fashioned sees craft rum mixed with chocolate bitters, banana sugar and dulce de leche. Strong and sweet.
Cafe a noix de coco is a take on the espresso martini, mixing Courvoisier VSOP cognac with RumChata (a rum liqueur with vanilla, cinnamon and a touch of spice), chilled espresso and coconut water.
The cocktails are both delicious. You could have them instead of dessert rather than as well as, of course, but we don’t have that sort of willpower.
And after all, this feels like a place for indulgence. If this is what dinner in Argentina is like, book us a plane ticket.
In the meantime, you’ll find us at Gaucho.