Steak-tastic at Gaucho Grill
Having spent the earliest part of my career frequenting London’s Gaucho Grill, for the proverbial “quick lunch” that tended to finish past most average people’s bedtimes, I looked towards the Hong Kong opening with excitement, nostalgia as well as trepidation. Would it possess a similar absence of natural light and clocks to cause one bottle of Malbec to turn into five as its British ancestor was so good at? I was certainly keen to find out.
The first thing that differentiates Gaucho Grill HK from that in London and indeed the two cities, is that one is built upwards and the other downwards. While the UK chain spans several inner city dungeons, our local newbie occupies the 5th floor of the LHT tower and while dimly lit, disappointingly has the odd window and reminder of everyday life. However, the ever-prolific cowhide continues to cover most seats while smoky mirrors adorn the walls, which on leaving the establishment seem even more opaque. I challenge you to disagree after a long lunch.
It’s hard to judge a restaurant from a press night as we only managed a few tastes while I know we were all secretly yearning for a MASSIVE FAT STEAK! We kicked off, unsurprisingly, with a 2013 Malbec, which I was overjoyed to taste having honeymooned in Mendoza. Naturally I informed the sommelier about this with some gusto and not only did he tell me I was the 5th guest to mention they had holidayed in the region but also the 5th to admit they couldn’t remember exactly which vineyards they had visited.
Onwards and upwards, we moved to the steak table, where we listened to a masterclass in the differences between the Aberdeen Angus cuts of tender fillet, lean rump, succulent sirloin and marbled ribeye as well as the distinction between Argentine and Scottish cows. While it might be obvious that the fillet is more tender because it is worked less as a muscle, that tenderness is multiplied when applied to the Argentine cow versus the Scottish herd, given the flat Pampas in which it roams versus its hillier northern counterpart. We tasted their wet aged beef, raw in a carpaccio, with the famous chimichurri sauce. This is the only steak sauce I know which possibly works without the steak. In fact, the last time I had a slightly deviant feeling towards chimichurri, I made and ate so much of the damn stuff that I had to leave it quite a few years before trying it again.
We continued to swill Malbec while trying a few other Gaucho staples such as the crowd pleasing empanadas. This is the South American answer to the Cornish pasty, with some cheesy, some meaty, but all decidedly satisfying. We also tried a few less Argentine bites: an Ecuadorian ceviche, spicy tomato pizza and king prawn canapés.
The venue is smartly presented with an elegant private room aka cellar which has HK wine and boys clubs written all over it. As a member of neither however, I would still be back for the empanadas, steak and dulce de leche for dessert, although perhaps this time with more convincing chat for the sommelier…
Gaucho Grill is located at 5th Floor of the LHT Tower, 31 Queens Road East, Central.