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Gaucho Dubai – Argentine Restaurant or Steakhouse?

Having interviewed the man behind Gaucho Dubai and attended an impressive media opening, FooDiva was most excited to finally review the all-Argentine meat and wine list. So how does the brand’s second Middle East location (at DIFC) fare?

Well firstly our reservation was easy peasy thanks to the Open Table online booking system on the Gaucho website. More restaurants here should really sign up to this effortlessly efficient process. Taxi drops us right at the entrance just further up from Zuma’s, where a hostess (pretty of course) escorts us to the glass elevator. The decor screams cow hide, from the walls to the seating, and that’s 160 of them – combined with black and white leather furniture, mirror panels and crystal chandeliers – it’s monochrome bling. A glass staircase and another beautiful hostess take us down to the multi-level dining area, with eight-metre-high floor to ceiling glass walls.

Service was impeccable right from the start – the staff, manager included, were very attentive to our ‘please can you turn-down the A/C’ request. Great to also spot Ryan Hattingh, the international operations director, roaming up and down the restaurant all evening – luckily he didn’t recognise FooDiva until the end.

The slinky and slim concertina style menus are elegant yet quirky. In an age where restaurants have gone back to basics with menu design, it’s lovely to see a creative yet simple take on the menu. Whilst we’re digesting the menu, our waitress brings over the butchers block to explain the different beef on offer. More on that later. The sommelier also descends to entice us with a new Argentine Pinot Noir. We tasted and didn’t like, opting for aMalbec from the Mendoza region (Santa Faustine) at AED 385. It’s worth noting that champagne aside which has to be French, all of the 200+ wines – white, red, rose, sparkling and dessert – are all Argentine.

Anyhow more importantly onto the food and specifically the starters our trio shared. Gaucho prides itself on ceviche, otherwise known as Argentine sashimi – or some would say Peruvian. The salmon ceviche is cured in citrus juice and served with diced avocado and palm hearts in a roasted pepper dressing. I guess it’s a sexy take on a prawn cocktail – succulent, moreish and bursting with flavour. The chorizo sausage is beef not pork. Gaucho does not, and by its own choice will not have a pork licence, but by its own definition the sausage is leaner and simply served with a giant roasted red pepper drizzled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. A must-try. Empanadas, to the Anglophiles known as pasties, are another Argentine tradition. The beef empanada failed to wow us, unlike the cheese, oozing with hot mozzarella and parmesan. We could easily have wolfed down one each.

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