We hadn’t seen each other for ages, my friend and I, and we had something to celebrate, so we decided to go out for Champagne and dinner together. It was his turn to choose the venue, and he picked Gaucho Picadilly, a luxurious Argentinean steak restaurant in London. An interesting place to take a vegetarian, to say the least, but their menu was online and it looked like I wouldn’t have to starve, so out we went.
At the entrance, a waiter took our coats and lead us to the lounge where we could have our first drink while waiting for our table. All the walls were black and from the high ceiling enormous crystal chandeliers reached down, reflecting on the black lacquered bar and tables. Vegans wouldn’t even be able to sit here, I noticed, since the hair on hide poufs and leather Chesterfields would surely clash with their principles. A bit distracted by the setting (and a waitress with a vacuum cleaner who was casually taking care of the carpet) we picked the Alma 4 from the Champagne list. To our surprise it turned out to be a sparkly red wine (it was actually the “Champagne and Sparkly Wine” list, but who bothers reading the menu properly?), but we liked its elegant ,fresh sensation so much that 5 glasses of Alma 4 ended up on our bill.
When our table on the first floor was ready, we asked for a tour of the entire building. On the second floor, there was a cocktail bar that seemed worth a try, though in the end we didn’t get round to visiting it.
I already knew I’d have to order a risotto for mains (because it was the only vegetarian option on the menu). But after one waiter had brought us fresh bread, another Argentinean boy came round with a big slab of wood and on it five chunks of juicy, raw meat. To show us how big each steak on the menu would be. I didn’t want to be impolite by not looking at the display, especially since the boy had to bend his knees slightly to keep the wares at eye level for me. But a look of disgust would have been just as impolite, so after my friend had asked some specialist questions, I explained my awkward behaviour by asking if he could recommend a vegetarian starter. Since there were none on the menu. He advised me to choose one of the sides, the grilled vegetables with tomato vinaigrette in specific. So I did, and they were delicious indeed. He also recommended the Argentinean melbec, El Porvenir De Los Andes to go with whatever type of meat my friend was having. I don’t whether it suited his steak (so big that he couldn’t even finish it), but with my rich and creamy risotto (of which I only managed to eat a third) and a side of spinach in lemon drizzle, that wine was absolutely delicious.
We were lucky not to have finished our mains, though, because the dessert that followed was the best taste sensation of the whole night: a chocolate cake with orange, cardamon and coffee cream. Think of the high-end version of Bayleys and Terry's Chocolate Orange. It was sort of like that, but fifty times better. At least. I’d go back to Gaucho just for pudding.
Honestly, that night, I was constantly struggling to choose whether I should talk, eat or drink. If you can stomach a rather carnivorous atmosphere, you can send your vegetarian taste buds to heaven in Gaucho Picadilly.
This review was also published on www.askda.co.uk
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