Gaucho in Leeds was sorely missed when it was recently closed for refurbishments but the good news is that it’s back with a brand new sophisticated look and a revamped menu developed by Culinary Director, Mike Reid, whose career has included Le Gavroche and Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in London. Already strongly influenced by Argentine cuisine, it reflects a shift in tone from a traditional Argentine approach to an offering that reflects modern Latin America, showcasing some of the region’s lesser known dishes. We hotfooted it down there to see what the results were…
The Tuna Ceviche (£14) was the lightest and freshest possible start to our evening meal with the Dulce de batata, sweet potato and chilli combining beautifully to give the palate a thorough work out. The accompanying black tortilla provided a satisfying crunchy counterbalance to the softness of the fish. A most welcome new addition to the menu!
Again a dish of contrasts, four immaculate discs of Seared Diver Scallops (£16.50) came under a mini avalanche of crispy nduja crumb. The accompanying spiced mango puree and red pepper sauce ensured there was plenty to keep the full attention of our tastebuds.
And now onto the main event. Our choice for top billing went to the Tira de Ancho (£43.50 for 500g). Tender spirals of slow grilled rib eye were complemented, rather than being overwhelmed by, flavoursome chimichurri. A side of Green Beans (£5) adorned in Confit garlic, lemon and butter, proved to be a more than reliable companion.
Keen to see if Gaucho were also able to provide plenty of decent alternatives to those looking for a non-beef option, our second choice of main was the Braised Lamb Shank (£30), which didn’t take much persuasion to fall away from the bone. Lashings of mint chimichurri were just as readily soaked up by the Ratte potatoes as they were by the lamb. The flavour levels were enhanced yet further by the addition of a side of Buttered Lettuce (£5) that came with a tasty pickled shallot, avocado and yoghurt dressing.
While Gaucho’s is obviously renowned for its quality cuts of meat, it is also equally skilled at choosing just the right wine accompaniment and our sommelier for the evening proved particularly adept at selecting something that was just right for our meal choices. In this case it was the Viña Patricia D’Oro Malbec 2015, a delightfully bold yet smooth wine that was ideal for both of our main dishes.
Date sponge, generous salted dulce de leche sauce and clotted cream ensured that the Sticky Toffee Pudding (£8.50) was on the same excellent level as the dishes that preceded it.
The combination of whipped ice cream, walnuts and rum of the Don Pedro (£10) provided a delightfully boozy end flourish to proceedings.
The new design of the restaurant oozes class and we were impressed with the the effect it has had on the overall ambience. The cowhide and dark colours are gone, replaced by a subtle colour scheme that invokes the Andes mountain ranges. That said, we’d be telling a mighty big lie if we claimed to be more excited about seeing the decor than sampling the food. Thankfully it didn’t disappoint either with the old favourites being as high quality as ever. What’s more, if the Tuna Ceviche is an indication of the quality of the other new additions to the menu then we can’t wait to sample them on our next visit.
Beautiful food in beautiful surroundings.