It’s safe to say, Gaucho is not for the likes of us.
We are in Smithfield on a Friday lunchtime a few weeks before Christmas. We’ve tried two lunch venues already. We didn’t make enough of a plan. We stumble into Gaucho, fumbling around in the dark, bouncing off white pleather chairs and girls in Little Black Dresses.
The black mirrored surfaces, the waitresses dressed like Robert Palmer’s backing band, the all too self-aware cowhide chairs, the ambient funky house soundtrack. It’s the Hollister of steakhouses. It’s not our scene. Our backs are up as soon as we walk in. Gaucho used to think itself a Big Deal before the relatively recent London steakhouse revival. They are now everywhere.
After negotiating the razor thin menus and pissing off our secretary waitress by only ordering one course and no wine, we wonder whether Gaucho might trump our low expectations.
A good twenty minutes later, the burgers turn up and Rob is all like WTF.
They are presented open, but everything is in the burger - there’s no need to add condiments or anything.
Actually, there are no condiments to be seen. So why present it open? Perhaps to make the meagre specimen take up more space on the gargantuan plate it’s served on. It highlighted how pathetically small the burger was compared to the bun and, in Rob’s case, how skilled the chef is at putting a thick black layer of burn on the top side of his patty. It was got-too-engrossed-chatting-about-golf-at-the-barbecue burnt.
There are several heinous crimes being committed here. Let’s take a closer look:
It looked and felt like something you’d get in a kid’s My Fisher Price Bistro set. Plastic that had been sprayed with cheese flavour. It didn’t melt. It just got a bit sweaty and uncomfortable. It’s called Dansglad cheddar. It’s either Danish, or has been invented by those Gaucho bastards since that’s all Google will tell us.
Always a worry. Here, it’s been used as a relish replacement and apparently had chipotle in it. No noticeable smokiness to it, just unpleasant gagging sweetness that refuses to go away. In fact, we had to go to the excellent Dose Espresso across the market to get rid of the aftertaste.
Four cuts! Four! All four that they have!
It makes it sound like they’ve scraped up the off-cuts from the kitchen floor. Unfortunately we can’t comment on its quality because it had not been seasoned at all, it had been burnt and our palates were devastated by the aforementioned chutney.
The big problem here is the apparent inability to cook. Any average piece of beef can be dressed up to look posher than it really is, so one can only imagine what they might do to a £30 ribeye.
Sixteen pounds. It would’ve been more worthwhile investing it in Northern Rock two years ago.
Gaucho is not cheap. This is right up there for London spendy burgers. Our bill overall came to £50, which included two flat diet Cokes, two small baskets of (admittedly quite nice) chips and service.
Our visit to Gaucho was penance for not being organised enough to book anywhere else in Smithfield’s on a Friday lunchtime, and you can’t help but feel it’s only there to serve the Torodean overflow from down the road.
- Simon & Rob.