It takes a strong man to go to a great, Argentinian steak restaurant and order the burger. It’s power of will over instinct and desire. It’s the same amount of willpower that one has to muster up to order the Hawksmoor burger or the Goodman burger at those steak joints. But, I’m just the man for the sacrifice of this task.
Gaucho is a restaurant on par with the Hawksmoors and Goodmans of London for steaks. Their twelve locations around London (and counting) speak to the success of their approach to South American steak. They also have locations in Hong Kong, Dubai, and Buenos Aires – all serving up Aberdeen Angus breeds that have been raised on the grasslands of Argentina for generations.
While Goodman goes for a 60s Mad Men feel, and Hawksmoor is like stepping into the art deco 1920s, Gaucho takes a contemporary approach to the steak house. The interiors are decked out in mirrors, chandeliers and cowhide wall pieces. Even the chairs are made from cowhide, so you’re quite literally having a beef experience of Argentina from the moment you sit down.
I love Gaucho’s steaks, they are delicious… which is why I was so disappointed with the burger when I tried it this week.
The burger lacked juiciness. It lacked flair! The seeded bun overwhelmed the flavors that should have shown through. The beef was overdone without any pink left in it, which is a real shame. The bacon may have been my favorite part of this burger, and that’s just not right.
The Gaucho burger is a blend of their four main steak cuts: Filet, Rump, Sirloin, and Ribeye. It is served with smoked bacon, provolone cheese, caramelized onions, garlic mayo and house-made ketchup. It comes served with french fries and will set you back just about £16 – you can add a fried egg, as I did, for £1.50 more. It is served in a minimalist way; on an oversized chopping board, and on an oversized bun. At £16, it’s competing head-to-head with the Hawksmoor burger… and losing.
One of my biggest pet peeves with any burger place is when the bun overwhelms the burger. When the beef’s diameter is significantly smaller than that of the bun it’s a tragedy. This is the case with the Gaucho burger, a burger which is also surprisingly small even before you put it on the bun. The effect is that the bun drowns everything else. With every bite, the flavors are being watered down by the amount of bun you have to chomp through to reach the toppings, sauces and the beef! You get hints of the powerful quality of the beef every now nd then, but it should be the thing that shines, not peaks through once in a while.
I guess the fact that my burger was well-done also didn’t help. It’s like the overcooking had just sapped all the juiciness out and left me with a dry hockey puck of really expensive meat. The bacon starred and the fried egg did its best to make this burger more interesting, but at the end of the day they are just accompaniments to what should have been the star of the show.
All I can say is save yourself the disappointment and order a steak. Gaucho’s steaks are good, really good. Perhaps their cooks are spending all their love, care and attention on the steak orders while my burger got shuffled to the back of the grill only to be rediscovered in time for the rest of my table’s service to leave the kitchen. I can highly recommend their Ancho (ribeye) steak cooked to a nice medium to allow the fatty marbling to melt into the beef – and I will recommend it, very highly indeed, in a subsequent steak-focused post.
But for now I shake my head and wonder how it could have all gone so wrong with the Gaucho burger. My lesson is learned; stick to the steaks and I’ll be happy. One thing that deserves happy mention in this post is the extensive wine list at Gaucho. It’s impressive and comprehensive. I never have had a bad wine suggested or chosen for me in many trips to Gaucho and I still think that their list of South American wines is arguably the best in London.
You can find Gaucho at multiple locations across London as well as in Leeds and Manchester. Visit their website here.
Gaucho Burger – 30/50
Beef (5): Four great cuts of meat combined to make something nowhere near the sum of its parts.
Bun (3): Too large for the patty, to dense to allow flavors to come through.
Toppings (7): Good, fresh, crisp toppings and excellent bacon.
Value (5): For the same price, £16, I’d much prefer to have the Hawksmoor burger.
Ambiance (10): I do love the interiors of Gaucho and their service is always great.