Gaucho, Edinburgh is an Argentine restaurant centrally located in the buzzing, cosmopolitan, St Andrews Square. It is the ideal spot for lunch after a morning of battering the credit cards in the fabulous shops that Edinburgh has to offer.
This is Gaucho’s flagship restaurant and bar in Scotland, and hopefully will be the first of many. Located over two levels, it is easy to forget what time of day it is, as the windowless restaurant is situated in the basement.
We arrived after a wonderful morning of hitting the shops and were there to celebrate a milestone birthday. On the ground level entry there is an elegant cocktail bar with an extensive drinks menu. We were shown downstairs to the main dining area and it really is like going into a zone, where time is of no consequence. We emerged quite merrily, full to the brim more than a few hours later, to find it was completely pitch dark outside.
The definition of Gaucho is “a cowboy from the South American pampas”, which explains the décor. Cowhide fabrics adorn the furnishings, and there is a large tree as the centrepiece. There is also a glass walled private dining space, which is perfect for special occasions or entertaining clients.
Gaucho is a meat lover’s paradise. The menu consists of the best free-to-roam, grass-fed Aberdeen Angus beef cooked with big Latin flavours. There were two of us dining, me, (a pescetarian) and my girlfriend who would eat steak for breakfast, lunch and dinner given a chance. I was interested to see what this meat-centric restaurant had to offer for a non-meat eater and I have to say, it didn't disappoint.
Of course all great steaks need an an amazing wine and you're certain to find one here as the extensive wine list includes more than 200 exclusive Argentinian wines, some of which are produced in the restaurant’s own vineyard in Mendoza.
For starters I opted for the Cured Patagonian red prawn Tiradito, served with pickled cucumber salsa verde and whipped crème fraiche. Tiradito is a typically Peruvian dish of raw fish cut in the shape of sashimi, which reflects the influence of Japanese immigrants on Peruvian cuisine - a real fusion of both cuisines. It is often referred to as ceviche’s lesser-known sibling, and it also tastes delicious.
My girlfriend selected the sausage board, which consists of a generous amount of pinchos, chorizo and morcilla served with romensco sauce.
For the mains, surprise, surprise the birthday girl opted for a steak. The raw steaks arrive on a wooden board, and the waiter talks you through each cut, size and weight, which gives you a real visual of what to expect - no surprises in store. The steaks come from premium Black Angus cattle, bred in Argentina farms, where they graze on 17 different types of grass from the Pampas provinces of Argentina. The cows enjoy a lush, free-range lifestyle in an area famed for its fertile soil.
The Cuadril, which is the rump steak, is the leanest cut and has a pure, distinctive flavour and was cooked in a peppercorn sauce and was served with a side of thyme salted chips. I continued the fish theme and settled for the Grilled Swordfish, which comes with a side of mixed bean cassoulet, palourde clams and grilled lemon to garnish. Despite being pretty stuffed, it wouldn’t be a proper birthday without cake. The lemon tart and the affogato all but finished us off!
The atmosphere in the restaurant is relaxed and warm. The staff are friendly and attentive, not pushy or overbearing. and overall the service was outstanding. This fresh, modern, sophisticated addition to the Edinburgh dining scene is certainly welcome, and we are already looking forward to our next visit.
Top tip: Arrive early and sample the legendary cocktails at the lovely bar.
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