Myself and my most trusted roast accomplice set out to have a tourist day on Sunday, by walking over Tower Bridge (the glass ceiling thing), so that we could practice our Instagram selfies, maybe taking us to the hallowed point of being able to sell any old shit like Belle of Brunch does:
Aren’t you winning in life? I’m sure she’s a very nice person, but if ever I become that shameless please set the Russians onto me.
I do quite like her fashion taste though. Oh wait a minute, is that another advert not marked as an advert? Because it just sounds soooooooo natural.
As we were around Tower Bridge, we thought that we should go somewhere nearby. Alas, I may have 155 places on my to-do list yet nowhere near Tower Bridge. Until we realised that I had a couple of chains on the list, and one was Gaucho.
Ooooh Gaucho. Ohhhh Gaucho. I was going to take it off my list as they went into administration earlier this year, closed their CAU restaurants (which incidentally did used to do a very good roast…with onion rings) and subsequently those with CAU vouchers were out of pocket. Except Hawksmoor kindly (shamelessly?) offered a round of drinks to those with CAU vouchers.
I questioned whether I should still be giving free publicity to Gaucho, but not enough to actually take it off. And we wanted somewhere near Tower Bridge so that we could also check out the overpriced tat in the Christmas market. Yes I did spent £2.50 on a cookie from a miserable bastard, which was no better than Gregg’s. Besides, Gaucho’s roast might be disappointing – just look at what I thought of Hawksmoor.
My accomplice messaged me beforehand to ask whether she needed to wear shoes. I only have trainers in various states of disrepair and smell, and it was pretty obvious that Gaucho needed the money more than they need anyone to wear shoes. I concluded that trainers were fine, though I decided against wearing my new hoodie. Was a bit too mild. That may or may not be me.
Incidentally, is it just me or were the Spice Girls so badly coordinated when it came to style? I appreciate that I cannot always talk, given my sock collection – or my hairstyle.
Fashion advice over, we arrived at Gaucho to be greeted at the door, which is a nice touch. Our coats were taken from us and we were shown to our table. The decor is heavily on the black side – with black chairs and black carpet, giving a kind of elegant touch. Maybe. The seats were actually really comfortable too – designed for both sitting upright, and relaxing after a meal. A warning to any gentlemen though, that the bathrooms are heavily mirrored – anyone washing their hands will be able to see your willy when you wee. Well, unless it is as small as mine. Half the toilets were out of order too.
There were two options for the roast, beef sirloin or beef sirloin. Either medium or well done, and at a slightly pricey £20. We both chose medium beef sirloin.
Dinner took barely 5 minutes to arrive. Maybe it was 10 at a push.
Yes. I was in a proper restaurant, yet barely had chance to have a sip of my drink and only half of the bread, and my main meal was already in front of me. This was the only thing wrong with the service – otherwise it was always pleasant, greeted at the door with our coats placed in the cloakroom, and given plenty of time afterwards to relax. But the dinner arrived way too soon. And quite a time before the red wine too.
There was a plentiful and neatly-stacked pile of carrot batons, sprinkled with thyme. Sadly they were very al dente, and needed more effort to both cut and chew (well…crunch) than I’d prefer. My accomplice really enjoyed them, and thought they were superbly buttery and thymey – I could taste neither, partly because of my weekend’s fairly high alcohol consumption but also because of the broccoli.
Regular readers will know how I often bang on about wanting some imagination. So often you just get plain old vegetables. I didn’t get plain broccoli in any stretch of the imagination here – it looked most interesting specked with chilli, and tasted even more interesting – it was what I tried to eat first, soaked as it was in soy sauce – with a rather interesting but soon becoming almost repugnant Chinese taste. I should add, that I’m not keen on Chinese food. The first bite I quite liked, second bite I thought interesting, third and fourth I disliked – at which point I gave up on it. And wished I hadn’t started.
It took a while for my mouth to approach neutral.
There was watercress in the Yorkshire pudding. Some will hate salad leaves on a roast dinner, but I’m surprisingly fine with it, given how much of an awkward fuck I can be – quite simply, salad leaves taste good with gravy. Obviously not a full-on salad as that would make it not a roast dinner, as I pointed out to some bloke called Tom Kerridge on Saturday night that roast beef and salad is not a roast dinner. To which he advised that it was lamb.
It’s roast Greek style leg of lamb with a Greek salad…… potatoes underneath the joint are rolled in dried herbs. 👍
— Tom Kerridge (@ChefTomKerridge) December 2, 2018
The watercress did at least help to balance out the taste of the broccoli. Yes I did have quite a lot to drink this weekend. Still wasn’t a roast dinner though, Tom.
Unlimited Yorkshire puddings were offered, however I would have quite happily have been limited to zero. It was unusually thick and sponge-like, tasting very floury with perhaps a hint of the advertised beef dripping. Unlike the vegetables, I did eat it but I have no idea why.
It doesn’t read well so far, does it? Thankfully the roast potatoes were very good. Quite sizeable yet close to perfection in terms of inner softness. One was even perfectly crispy on the outside – the others just respectable.
As you’d expect at a minimum, the beef was excellent. Sirloin of beef, cooked medium. It was much easier to cut than the carrots, really juicy and tender – the crispy, fatty edges quite heavily salted which made for a pleasant contrast.
Apart from being served in a wanktastic mini-saucepan, the gravy was fine. A red wine gravy, it neither particularly added or detracted value. Too thin, of course but I was never going to get gravy with a proper consistency in a tiny saucepan. 84 reviews in, and I still don’t think I’ve been served gravy at anywhere close to a consistency as to what I make.
THE SOUTH. Henley Regatta. Shit gravy. Jobs.
When I posted a preview on Twitter last night, I had a range of comments from “looks decent” to “Oooh hell no”. And both myself and my accomplice had a very different view of how good this was. I was satisfied but mostly unimpressed, my accomplice was really impressed. I thought it not a patch on the roast dinner last week at The Alexandra in Wimbledon, my accomplice thought it much better than there.
Where we did agree was that it was quite a relaxing experience, and we had an excellent view – sat right next to the window, watching out onto Tower Bridge, the nearby fountains and a guy with a fairly useless leaf-sucking machine.
Also it was nice to see at least some effort and inventiveness – the Chinese-style broccoli seemed most unusual on a roast dinner – so even though I wasn’t keen, kudos for actually not just providing ordinary over-blanched broccoli.
We had ordered the cheapest wine, a Malbec, on the basis that it was probably good enough for a fat, ugly scumbag like myself – which wasn’t too pricey at £16.25 for 500ml. Quite a fresh, fruity-feeling wine. Alas we’d also ordered some water – four pound fucking twenty five. What did they think they were, a nightclub in Ibiza? I shall state that in numeric form too, £4.25. For table water.
For some reason we also got a free glass of cheap sparkling wine – something that my accomplice had signed up for through working in the hospitality industry (one glass still had a hint of lipstick around the rim). And for some reason I also ordered a beer – I’ve no idea what it was, some kind of pilsner but it had a hearty complexion, and was tasty, if completely unnecessary.
Service was generally good, apart from the meal arriving barely after we were seated. You could probably even justify the 12.5% service charge, which is nearly as much a miracle in London nowadays as getting decent gravy.
You probably have guessed that I’m scoring it differently to my accomplice. The yorkie was crap and the vegetables semi-inedible (for me), but the meat was excellent and so were the roast potatoes – and there was a fair amount of effort and thought gone into it. And it was better than Hawksmoor’s roast dinner. Just. I’m giving it a 7.11 out of 10. My accomplice is rather shocked by my “low” score, and said it deserves at least an 8.
But she likes Pimm’s.
Arguably I could have rated it lower given that I disliked both vegetables, but I disliked them more to personal taste.
Next Sunday I’m going to be in hipster land – one of those that could be very good, or could be utter crap (hello People’s Park Tavern). It might also be the last one before Christmas.