A few years back if you had asked someone where you could get the best steak in Manchester the answer was simple – 'Gaucho' or 'Grill on the Alley' (see here).
Of of the two, Gaucho was always my preferred choice (my wife was less keen) – I liked the venue, the lighting, the music and most of all the whole cow vibe… oh yes, I liked the steaks too!
I say ‘liked’ because for some reason* I am unable to recall I have not been back for a couple of years (it seems unlikely but perhaps my wife started to get her own way?).
*One reason could be the availability of other decent steaks in the city at places such as: Smoak (here), SoLita (here) and Le Relais de Venise L'Entrecote (here).
Of course, Gaucho is not all about the steaks – their menu now features a good selection of ceviche dishes. I selected the Mackerel Ceviche with mango and passion fruit sauce, which ‘on paper’ seemed right up my alley.
It was colourful, fresh and vibrant looking but lacked a little in execution to my mind - I found much of the mackerel a little ‘mushy’, the fried plantain slice dry and unpalatable and I failed to taste the passion fruit.
Re. the steaks: I’ve recently heard people knocking Gaucho’s steaks for being a) over priced and b) Argentinian*. Personally, I found my Tira De Ancho steak to be good value for 500g of high quality, well cooked and flavoursome beef.
The Tira De Ancho is ‘spiral cut’ rib-eye, basically translating as a strip of rib-eye. As requested, mine had been ‘medium rare’ - slow grilling allows the marbling of this particular cut to melt and permeate the steak with flavour. The flavours were then further enhanced with their version of a chimichurri sauce.
The classic chimichurri consists of oil, parsley, oregano, vinegar and chilli. Gaucho’s much sweeter version seemed to omit the bitter oregano and use the sweeter coriander in its place; with further sweetness from the addition of onion and sherry vinegar the result was a bit too, err… sweet.
(*As for being Argentinian: of course, I agree with buying British and local and all that but no one knocks Italian restaurants for importing Italian goods – It tasted good, so what if the Falkland’s want it back.)
The Grilled Asparagus was little dry and withered at the ‘stalk end’ and came with Gaucho’s gremolata – another ‘fiddling with’ of a classic recipe: I liked the addition of capers - good but, ‘not as we know it, Jim.’
The chips were ‘finished with deep fried thyme’ but I would appreciate it if they had been more generous with the thyme. I found the béarnaise sauce quite poor – one of the blandest versions I’ve had in a while.
I wasn’t going to have a dessert but my friendly server suggested the Apple Pancake - describing how it was topped with popcorn and cinnamon and cooked it in hot sticky caramel… I was sold! Well done waiter!
Although, if he ever considers a change of career, I’d recommend becoming a used car salesman – it looked that part, but at £8.50 I was disappointed in what I found was a stodgy, barely warm pancake (thankfully only one); stale popcorn; average ice-cream with only the faintest hint of cinnamon.
For me, Gaucho’s saving graces remain the venue, the lighting, the music and most of all the whole cow vibe… oh yes, I still like the steaks too!