I’m not going to lie, I didn’t think steak in Birmingham got much better than Anderson’s Bar & Grill (you’ll see why here). It’s one of our favourite places in Birmingham that we’ve returned to and one of our favourite steak occasions. We (ashamedly) haven’t yet been to Lasan’s acclaimed Fiesta Del Asado and to be honest, where else do you go in Brum for steak? CAU arrived with lack lustre fanfare so hopes were high for the city’s latest Argentinian steak restaurant (shh) chain.
So enter Gaucho, the largely London-based steak group with restaurants also in Dubai, Hong Kong & Buenos Aires, breaking into middle England territory in one of the fastest growing dining scenes outside of the capital.
The spot couldn’t be better. ‘Hidden’ (with a big fat GAUCHO emblazoned door) underneath the shiny new 55 Colmore Row, Gaucho sits on the now majestic row of Victorian refurbishments alongside Gusto, The Alchemist and the wonderful Grand Hotel renovation. A row that now feels like a jaunt down a bourgeois Parisian arrondissement, with the odd red double decker passing by.
The restaurant itself is a beautiful cave of twinkly lights and mirrors, greys upon greys (heaven) and delicate mood lighting which also allows you to actually see your dining companions and what you’re eating (cameras not so much). It really feels special, swanky and oh, very Instagrammable darling.
I don’t think we’re quite accustomed to cloakrooms and hostess service in Brum (unless you’re going Michelin) but here at Gaucho they are. This welcome feels very London. Very swish.
The bar area’s small, only really enough to order or perhaps enjoy one drink whilst you wait for your table. The wine list is EXTENSIVE (@winepressgirl would have to explain all to me – I think she’d approve) so without even thinking I went against the red meat grain and took the advice of a glass of a dry white, an Argentinian Torrontes. Virgin cocktails and apparently a very good pale ale were also enjoyed.
What surprised me is that there’s actually so much on the Gaucho menu that isn’t steak. I almost expected it to be a place where ‘The Beef’ is the sole occupier of the menu. Whilst this is great for veggies and red meat unenthusiasts, tbh all of this good stuff is unfortunately lost on me. Convert this menu into another restaurant and lamb rump, swordfish steak and fillet steak milanese all sound right up my street for any other occasion.
Similarly, I’d recommend skipping starters (I’m even censoring those we enjoyed for the purposes of this review). Simply enjoy these bad boy breads as your appetizer (dipped in their house chimichurri dressing – oof) and then pause to savour the main event plus allll the sides.
So as I said it really is all about the main event here. They even start you off by bringing you a big old board of all of the glossy cuts of raw meat to talk through with you. On the menu which simply describes ‘The Beef’, there’s some seriously sexy-sounding steaks. From MEDIA LUNA DE VACÍO to ENTRAÑA FINA, one of Gaucho’s most popular is the CHURRASCO DE LOMO (the herby one): a spiral cut piece of beef, either sirloin or fillet, marinated for 2 days in garlic, parsley and olive oil. Or opt as I did for the chunky fillet (10oz ish, top right) and have it basted in the same marinade. Winner.
Even from the first soft squidge, I knew this would be cooked to my perfect rare. One succulent, juicy hunk of cow junk. No steak knives required.
The garlic, parsley and olive oil basting was also just enough to complement the delicate char on the coating of the meat, never overpowering or out-doing the flavour or exquisite texture of the meat. I would highly recommend.
The churrasco also went down well, the marinade working well with the thinner slice of sirloin (it’s also mahoosive – enough for a steak lunch the next day 😉
As for sides, whether you’re a thin or a fat chipper, either way you won’t be disappointed (although the fat ones do rival those at Anderson’s that I love so dearly). Mushroom and peppercorn sauces were nice, but second best to the garlicky, parsley basting.
Equally, I’d also be quite happy next time with the vegetable side dishes for a simple accompaniment, particularly the delightful Humita Saltena; a chunky sweetcorn paste served with mozzarella served beautifully IN AN ACTUAL SWEETCORN HUSK. Like nothing I’ve seen or sampled before but deliciously creamy, savoury sweet and tasty. Slightly salty spinach and sugar snap peas were also enjoyed.
Again just like the starters, probably unnecessary but there were some damn good sweet flavours here and some nice twists on classics. Petty improvements would be thicker cheesecake biscuit base and probably smaller portions but overall, really nice sweet mouthfuls to share and end the meal. I could have simply have a bowl of that divine toasted marshmallow and dulce de leche. Yum.
As expected, divine. My Dad probably wouldn’t like it because they do do that “have you eaten at a Gaucho before?”
à la Harvester/Nandos and the like… but put that past you and you can have a genuinely good time basking in their expert knowledge of the restaurant and its menu. It’s that slick kind of puts-your-correct-main-down-in-front-of-you without asking kinda thing.
Don’t get me wrong, they have parachuted expert staff in from their London restaurants, like our delightful server Nancy from the first restaurant in Piccadilly, so it’s 60:40 expert:local staff. But that’s what good brands should be doing. Don’t open your restaurant with partly trained staff and throw them to the masses. Allow them to bask in the expertise of those already embedded in the brand restaurant experience to learn from and treat your first customers to the best first impression possible. And repeat. Just like Hickory Smokehouse which I raved about here.
I’d like to think Gaucho have come to Birmingham to sit alongside our glowing culinary portfolio currently flourishing in the city, not to eclipse or steal the limelight with their London glamour.
I’m also not going to sit here and wax lyrical about the new addition to Birmingham being the be all and end all for steak lovers. We sure do have great places for steak, such as Anderson’s, Fiesta Del Asado, most definitely not Marco Pierre White’s and many other great steaks on various other menus. They’re all welcome in my eyes and offer different things for different occasions and locations. For example, get me to a Gaucho social dining night/Gaucho film club or their Electro Brunch (with Aperol Spritz, hello), Fiesta when I’m feeling a trip out of town or to Anderson’s for a sure fire steak dinner winner.
However, I most certainly urge steak lovers to go get a really special fix here, on a special occasion, client schmoozing or a really impressive date night. Welcome to Birmingham, Gaucho.
55 Colmore Row (enter around the corner on Church St)
Disclosure: on this occasion our group were guests invited to one of Gaucho’s soft opening taster nights courtesy of Rewired PR, an experience I will cherish for a long time. Whilst I wasn’t obliged to write a review for Gaucho, I was inclined to do so because it was so exquisite. The best kind of review. I really loved it a lot and shall be returning with card in hand because this is steak excellence.