After a fellow diner informed me that “it is hard to get a bad meal here”, my expectations of what was to come were raised instantly. The newly refurbished Gaucho Argentinian restaurant in the centre of Leeds is indeed a fine restaurant, although the entrance might take a little bit of finding. Situated on Park Row down a short staircase Gaucho was surprisingly full, particularly for a Monday night.
Centred around the culture of modern Argentina, the food and wine menus at Gaucho reflect their contemporary global influence. The menu informs you of the speciality of their steaks: Argentinian beef from premium black angus cattle. Gaucho hand-selects the farms their beef comes from, where the cattle are reared in a free-range lifestyle by partners they have long-standing personal relationships with. Though with COP26 underway, this did make me think about the impact of importing beef. Yorkshire’s beef would surely prove just as tasty as that from halfway around the world, without the carbon footprint!
The Gaucho experience
Upon arrival, I appreciated the offer of having our coats taken to the cloakroom, and this was the first of many personal touches. As the Leeds restaurant is underground, you might find that your mobile phone signal is very weak, or even non-existent. However, this was fine by me, as I get tired of people looking at their phones when out dining.
Stylish dance tracks were playing in the background creating a sophisticated atmosphere. Though having no internet access meant that trying to use Shazam to see what a particular track was proved impossible!
The wine list, as you might imagine, is mainly Argentinian – and the staff will happily guide you through which wines best accompany each meal.
If you fancy something non-alcoholic there are two mocktails on offer to tempt you. I tried the ‘tiki twist’ (a delicate mix of Seedip Grove non-alcoholic spirit, blossom water, pineapple and orange juices) and it certainly brought a refreshing touch of South America to Leeds.
Time to eat: meat and more
We began our dining experience with the bread: a selection of sourdough bagetini, pan de bono, and chimichurri with butter. Served warm this was a good introduction to what was to come, and was priced at £5.
My partner decided on the empanadas, which come as a minimum of two per order priced at £5.25 each. The sweet potato and provolone empanadas, and the chicken and chorizo, came in a light pastry with plenty of filling.
The knowledgeable and friendly staff lead you through the range of steaks on offer which come in 225, 300 or 400 gram servings. All steaks are served with chips, though the menu did not make this clear. Sauces are an extra cost, but my blue cheese sauce was thick and had a wicked kick to it.
My 225g lumo fillet steak was cooked to my preference (well done), but at £33.00 was a little costly – more akin to London prices! The steak was lean, tender, and had a delicate flavour with each mouthful a delight upon my taste buds. My partner chose the 300g chorizo sirloin steak, priced at £28.50, and described it as excellent, and tender yet succulent.
We chose a seasonal green salad as a side, which cost £5.50 and was served with peas, broad beans and sugar snap peas.
Gaucho’s sweet side
If after all this indulgence you have enough room for a dessert there are over eight delights to tempt you. My partner decided upon the alfajores, an Argentinian ice cream sandwich with coconut parfait served with a robust hot chocolate sauce, which cost £7.00.
For £12.00, my cheese platter may have benefited from some accompaniments such as grapes, as well as the cheese being served at room temperature. Despite this, the blue cheese still had a sharpness about it, the cheddar was strong in taste, and the goat cheese had a classic tart and earthy taste.
By now the restaurant was almost full and it was time to collect our coats and venture out from Gaucho’s warm and inviting atmosphere into the cold autumnal evening – the meat was definitely on!
Gaucho, 21-22 Park Row, Leeds LS1 5JF
Telephone 0113 246 1777