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Gaucho Grill

Gordo pampas himself with an Argentine steak

Written by . Published on October 4th 2007.

Gaucho Grill

Gordo, you will not be surprised to find out knows his fillet from his feather steak. This comes from working in the family butchers since aged 13. The best steak in those days wasn’t a boss eyed rare breed steer playing a banjo, but vacuum packed sirloin (striploins) that had spent up to six weeks in the chilled belly of a steamer that had crossed the Atlantic from Argentina.

Lobster tails and gambas are on the menu as starters, at an eye watering £15.50, through to a platter at £31. Gordo instinctively checks his wallet. It isn’t anywhere to be seen.

Take them out, cut off a thick slice, season, cracked black pepper and saxo salt, into a smoking hot (beef dripping in those days!) frying pan. Two and a half minutes each side got a ten-ouncer medium rare. Slice on the angle thinly having let it rest for seven minutes then onto Warburton’s lightly buttered (Lurpack) white bread. All done in the back room of Uncle Sam’s shop in Longsight. Heaven. Then we joined the common market which meant that we couldn’t take any more Argentine beef.

Other Gordo beef memories include an amazing Rib of Beef, cut a third of an inch thick Yankee style, in the Hilton Hotel, Paris, 1989. A sirloin steak like no other at the quite astonishing Guinea Grill behind the Bentley showroom on Berkeley Square, London, in 1976.

Back to a drizzly day in Manchester. Noting the Gaucho Grill, which serves Argentine beef, has been nominated for Restaurant of the Year in this year’s Food and Drink Festival Gordo decides to give it a go for an early dinner. Is he going to get a great steak at last?

There are only two restaurants that haven’t suffered from design fatigue over the past seven years or so, one is Restaurant Bar and Grill, the other, The Gaucho. Subtle changes have been made to this refurbished church hall, but the original layout remains the same. The place actually feels more comfortable, the lighting tweaked to a mellow burnt yellow and brown that flatters the ladies. Through a curtain at the back is one of the best, but least known private dining rooms in the city.

Gordo looks at the menu. It’s a big one reflecting what is a big country: Argentina. Lobster tails and gambas are on the menu as starters, at an eye watering £15.50 through to a platter at £31. Gordo instinctively checks his wallet. It isn’t anywhere to be seen. All he has is forty quid stuck in his back pocket. Starters are out. The only things that are in his price range are the empanadas. A bit like pasties. Beef with olive and egg, spinach with pine nuts along with ham and cheese, £4.75, £4.25 and £4. Ok thinks Gordo, one of these. Then he notices the terms and conditions. “Choose a minimum of two from the following selection”. These people know how to charge, that’s for sure.

Bread arrives, free of charge, so Gordo starts filling up. Terrific baked cheese ‘biscuits’ (notes say ‘scones for cowboys’) along with very good slices of bread redolent of caraway and maybe fennel. Maybe not. The bottle of Glenlivet Speyside sparkling water had ‘you are a twat for buying me’ written in invisible ink on the front. It was £3.65. It’s 60p in Costco. Two wine lists were wafted under Gordo’s nose, one fine wine, the other everyday. They represent possibly the most interesting selection of Argentinean wines outside that country. But Gordo couldn’t afford any. You, dear reader, can see the menus and wine lists by clicking here.

Gordo chooses carefully. The menu meanders through salads (palmito sounds nice, hearts of palm, avocado, red onion, cherry tomatoes, radish, black olives, coriander and sherry vinaigrette, £6.25), Ceviches, (fire and ice sounds nice as well, lobster and shrimp cured in a lime, coconut and citrus sauce with red onion, jalapeño and coriander). Bloody should do at £14.50 mate.

Is the beef good? Gordo orders a 300g Rib Eye Steak, cooked on the barbecue, part of an open kitchen running half the length of the room lending a sense of theatre. Baked potato, which comes with sour cream and béarnaise on the side, all part of the offering at £15. Gordo orders some spinach with garlic and lemon (£3.25). He passed on the sautéed green beans with garlic. They must have been flown first class from Kenya at £4.75. These prices are exactly the same as their establishment in Canary Wharf down south, where the rents are astronomic and the pay roll withering. This one must be a banker.

So, paying London prices what do we get?

Firstly, the place is a gas, it has an atmosphere missing almost everywhere else. Nearly sixty covers in at six thirty. The service is exemplary, from the young lady who takes you to the table to the station waiter who clearly knows what’s what.

The steak is laid out on the table like Goya’s Naked Maja, only more enticing. The baked potato was creamy, not burnt like Gordo’s, cooked all the way through and waxy. It arrived with a pot of sour cream. It wasn’t sour enough to Gordo’s taste and could have done with a few chives. Mind you the potato was better than the ones coming off the bonfire in Agecroft, Salford, forty five years ago. Spinach? This is three star spinach. Eaten by Gordo for healthy bowels rather than taste sensation normally, he finished a large helping seasoned just so with garlic, zinged along with a squeeze of lemon.

Sorry to everyone working for local produce with the rare breeds. You are doing well, but the cattle used here reflect a part of the world that is virtually pollution free, grazing over miles and miles of pampas and lush green rolling pastures. These fellers have breathed freedom. It shows in the quality of the eating. This is the best steak Gordo has eaten in England for thirty years.

The Gaucho Grill has some fine competition this year (Luso, Isinglass, River Restaurant, Café Jem & I and Harvey Nichols), but judging on this hugely enjoyable dinner it should give them all a run for their money.

A Gordo Go

Rating: 17/20
Breakdown: 8.5/10 Food
4/5 Service
4.5/5 Ambience
Address: The Gaucho Grill
2a St Mary’s Street, Manchester
M3 2LB
0161 833 4333
Mon-Thu noon-10.30pm,
Fri-Sat noon-11pm,
Sun noon-10.30pm

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20 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

ancoats girlOctober 4th 2007.

I agree with Caroline, stick to steak & wine (and maybe a pudding... I love the crepes with ice cream and dulche de leche) I've never had anything but good service and great food there, though it's a bit jumping on Friday and Saturday nights - so don't go then if you want a quieter meal.Top tip - they have Gauchos in Amsterdam, perfect for the post coffee bar evening munchies...

EllieKateOctober 4th 2007.

I fully agree - the only place I've ever been where you can't help but eat with your eyes closed it's that amazing! Sod the prices, it's worth it!

JenpenOctober 4th 2007.

Absolutley! What a fabulous treat.

Jason FOctober 4th 2007.

First time I went there, I asked for a steak knife. The waiter told me arrogantly that in thier restaurant their steaks are so tender that they dont need a steak knife. 10 minutes later when i tried to saw through the steak it ended up on my lap.I have been there 4 times now and I am sorry every body, dont get me wrong, it's ok, but terribly over-rated. In all honesty I have cooked better steaks myself at home, in fact Captain Birdeye does a mean steak burger! And like someone said, the wine is way overpriced. Whats all the fuss about?

KatherineOctober 4th 2007.

I was looking forward to go to this restaurant for weeks, but was extremely dissapointed. The service was poor, the food was very average and I found the staff to be arrogant. I don't mind paying the price for good food, but this place was definately overprices and overrated. On a plus, the decor is superb, but agree with earlier comment that the loos stank. 5/10.

AnonymousOctober 4th 2007.

The Grill on the Alley has a better menu, the Kobe steak is far tastier than anything Gaucho has to offer, including the Churasco de Lomo. The service and scenery is also better. so there.

MatiasOctober 4th 2007.

Coming from Argentina I am dissapointed for Manchester's restaurant scene that this is described as one of the best restaurants. Having eaten in the Manc and London versions it seemed like style over substance. The only decent Argentine restaurant is Santa Maria de Buen Ayre in Hackney. Dulce de Leche, Chori Pan and a real Porteno on the Parilla.

CSOctober 4th 2007.

Couldn't agree more, the steak here is magnificent.

ktfairyOctober 4th 2007.

Outstanding restaurant - I have been here well over 10 times and had a great meal with great service everytime. I always take my friends here on their first visit to Manchester. Just one tip - if you are looking to impress ask to see the steak board, they'll bring out great chunks of cow and explain them all to you - very impressive. I don't care it's expensive - it is worth every penny.

HellersdadOctober 4th 2007.

Hellers swears by the place, so it must be good!

CarolineOctober 4th 2007.

I've been a few times now, and the best bet is not to ahve overpriced and tiny starters and side orders.Just a big fat steak and a bottle of wine!

leeOctober 4th 2007.

Manchester best restaurant and steak not only is the food amazing, its great to see a place who pride themselves on great service instead of giving someone a note pad and a pen and calling them a waiter the staff here a well trained and knowledgable. the restaurent always has a great atmosphere. Only downside is the price of the drinks the food is cheap in comparison.

CountryboyOctober 4th 2007.

I have eaten at the Gaucho Grill and the steaks are very good, but Argentina is along way away and beef as good, if not better, can be found in this country. The best steaks I have ever eaten were at The Packhorse Inn at Crowdecote near Buxton in Derbyshire. They came from cattle reared in local fields, slaughtered locally, and delivered after hanging a minimum of 28 days. Cooked simply, as great meat demands and deserves, there is none finer.

HeatherOctober 4th 2007.

Don't get too excited...this is England don't forget and we're pretty rubbish at "wow factor" restaurant/leisure hospitality!! We booked a table on a Saturday night, it took well over an hour to get our main course (which was good but not that good!)we were kept quiet by a pretty poor starter and even worse service... it'll take a lot of persuading to get me back in there! its a pity as it could be fabulous.

AnonymousOctober 4th 2007.

This restaurant must have improved since the last time I went two years ago! We didn't get seated until 45 minutes after we arrived (even though we had booked 3 weeks prior!), they had run out of most of the sides, which meant everybody had to have chips with their steak, and the waiting staff were slow and unattentive. Unfortunately the poor service overshadowed the evening so much I can't even remember if the food was good or not!

AnonymousOctober 4th 2007.

Had a table in front of the kitchen. Saw the waiter drop a steak right in front of us and took it back to the kitchen, only to see the chef re-plate it onto another plate and then the waiter served it to the table. Complained, but the manager denied it!

NiBsOctober 4th 2007.

I called for a steak on Thursday night at 9.30 service was OK for me but next table had been waiting an hour and their order was wrong. My small sirloin was OK but someone needs to teach them how to cook CHIPS they were dire. Gents bogs stank. Will try again.

KeithOctober 4th 2007.

I last went on a Friday night and the place was busy but the service was still good. The best restaurant steak I've had in England and a long way ahead of other steaks I've had in Manchester restaurants. I think charging extra for sauce and veg is a bit off when you consider the price of the steak. The other negative point is mark-up on wines which is a bit steep. Having said all that for me the positives out weigh the negatives.

Matias MendezOctober 4th 2007.

As an Argentinian I am the dissapointed to find that the Gaucho Grill is rated as one of the best restaurants in Manchester. Having visited both the Manchester and London versions I find them second rate. The best you will visit is Santa Maria de Buen Ayre if you are ever in London. A true BA parrilla run by Argentines. The gaucho isn't 25% as good.

LocketOctober 4th 2007.

I wish I could eat at Goucho every night. Service is always fanatastic and the steak mouthwatering. And I dream of that cheesy bread!

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