From the moment you arrive at the all-black valet entrance to this DIFC institution, first impressions suggest you’re in for a classy experience. Given that Gaucho’s popularity extends to 15 locations in the UK plus three international outposts – Dubai, Hong Kong and Buenos Aires, there’s got to be something special about the Argentinian cuisine they’re serving up.
In case you were not already aware that this establishment is all about the beef, the cow hide interiors decorating the
dining room should hint at what they love to serve. A lofty space with dramatic double level ceilings, the main dining room is resplendent in chrome and glass, crisp white and black (and of course the aforementioned trademark black and white cow hide).
On this occasion we take up the offer to start our evening in the moody lounge bar for a cocktail from the intriguing and interesting list. My Basil Smash (Tanqueray, lemon, basil, elderflower) impresses as does Tommy’s Margarita, selected by my dining partner. The wine list showcases a wide range of Argentinian wines, however most of those we tasted by the glass were too acidic for my preferences. Surprisingly, the Cabernet Sauvignon served by the glass was delicious – I say surprising, as it really didn’t taste like a Cab Sauv (which I normally don’t like), rather more like a Syrah.
Cocktails conquered, we hungrily start on appetizers – the stand out of the bunch being the Braised beef back ribs (75 dhs). The menu describes them as, ‘Glazed in a hoisin and chilli orange sauce with sesame seeds, fresh orange and pickled jalapeños’, I describe them as outstanding. Lovers of gooey grilled cheese shouldn’t miss the 48-hour dry-aged provoleta (60 dhs), though it really needed more than the singular plum tomato and basil bruschetta that accompanied it – thankfully Gaucho’s famous cheese breads came in handy there. The Beef Chorizo Sausage (65 dhs) reminded me much more of standard sausage than any chorizo I’ve had, not really making much of an impression. Of the empanada selection, my advice would be to go straight for the vegetarian options. Both the humita (corn) and provolone (30 dhs each) were indulgent and delicious. The Lomo Carpaccio (80dhs), however, was a total strikeout, devoid of flavor and minuscule in portion size. My advice? Just order a large portion of the Braised beef back ribs (150 dhs) and you will not be unhappy.
Gaucho’s sweets are even more indulgent than the rest of the menu. They are all pretty heavy (and don’t even think about dessert if you’re lactose intolerant) so we selected the Mango mess (50 dhs) as a fruity option alongside the decadent Dulche de leche cheesecake with hot salted dulce de leche and toasted marshmallow (60 dhs). The former didn’t really work, just ending up a gooey mess (funnily enough), though the version I had tried on a previous brunch, the Coconut mess, was a winner. The latter was delicious and very rich – it’s best shared – though the added salt topping tipped the balance a little too far in the salty direction. My standard nightcap, an espresso martini, unfortunately didn’t live up to the high standard of the cocktails we enjoyed earlier in the night – both the drink and foam were watery.