I love Gaucho. Always have. It opened in 2001 in the converted Methodist church previously occupied by Sticky Fingers and is renowned for serving some of the best steaks in Manchester. The restaurant is a temple for meat lovers, spectacularly decorated with cowhide leather laden interiors and crystal chandeliers.
For years, they’ve been the bovine San Carlo in town. Then the Northern Powerhouse kicked into gear and established chains with headquarters in the capital started bringing their fancy London delights to town.
So, last year, Gaucho upped their game with an extension and fancy pants refurb. To encourage a pre-dinner drink or three, they’ve introduced a glitzy destination bar at the front with a ‘black cracked glass’ bar top.
Walking through the leather-walled corridor, through the glass doors into the massive, cowhide-clad main dining area, you’re struck by the combination of astonishing architecture and steakhouse charm. There are central circular booths and a new glass-walled wine room that creates a striking divide between the bar and restaurant area.
It creates an environment in which Sean Penn’s character from Carlito’s Way might meet Del Boy to catch up on the finer details of a lorry load of goods due from Boulogne while showing off to their other halves. Love it.
The service is a mixture of menu and presentation with the cuts of steak brought out on a wooden chopping board for our server to talk through.
He is polite, knowledgeable, enthusiastic and admirably patient.
The deal at Gaucho is a choice of steak (no limit of size/weight), chips or salad and any sauce to accompany – all for the price of the chosen cut.
After we devoured a few platters of salty cheese bread, chimichurri and chorizo, I went for my standard ribeye 400g, medium (£30.95), chunky chips (rather than fries out of misguided stubbornness), greens (both £4.95) and pepper sauce (£3).
We can’t comprehend enjoying a special steak without the unbeatable sensation of washing it down with a full bodied red wine. Viña Patricia, a Malbec named after the owner’s wife, was the recommended wine of choice (£48.95 a bottle). After all, Malbec is the jewel in Argentina’s crown. Ripe black fruits, raspberry and ripe cherry, with silky soft tannins. Complex but always drinkable. It’s also amazing with chocolate, but that’s another story.
The steak was wonderful – really tender and marbled. I’m vaguely aware of the differences between the preparation of steaks the Argentinian way (they’re wet-aged as oppose to dry-aged) but, to me, a good steak is a good steak. And it was. Spot on medium, juicy, seasoned. Delicious.
So was the pepper sauce.
To my everyday taste buds, their steaks are great. High end of the market in terms of cost, but well worth the money. Drunk or otherwise – cheers Patricia!
The issue with Gaucho for me is the sides. It’s the difference between them and other high end restaurants. The sides in Gaucho feel and taste like a bit of a garnish – I’d murder a macaroni and cheese with truffle oil.
But if you’ve got meat on your mind and only the best will do, Gaucho is still the place to go for some of the best steaks in town.
Gaucho has come up with the perfect way to accommodate hangovers. You can now spend Saturdays indulging in a bottomless brunch with endless Argentine bubbles, cocktails and fresh juices to the sound of a live DJ spinning bassy beats. Electro Brunch is hosted every Saturday from 11am to 3pm with unlimited food and drinks included* for £45 per person. That Bloody Mary!
*One drink per person, at any one time
2A St Mary’s Street, Manchester M3 2LB
Book: 0161 833 4333
Photos by Georgie Glass