Gaucho Manchester, 2a St Mary’s Street, Manchester, M3 2LB – Visit Now
Manchester’s Gaucho has to be in the running for one of the most impressive-looking venues in the city. Walking in from the darkly atmospheric pre-drinks bar area, you enter a cavernous space containing plenty of original fixtures from its days as a Methodist church – most notably the enormous church organ – as well as sky-high ceilings and tasteful chandeliers. It’s nothing less than jaw-dropping.
Even better, the staff share this sense of wonder, clearly delighted to introduce diners to the finest steaks in the city, not to mention some incredible varieties of wine.
The name Gaucho is synonymous with Argentine steak – but it’s not solely about beef, the menu has a range of smart dishes that are much more than a mere afterthought. We begin with yellowtail tiradito – sashimi-style slivers of white fish, with truffle mayo, some yuzu soy pearls and a scattering of panko breadcrumbs. This Peruvian dish is wonderfully delicate; a confident mixture of textures and gentle flavours.
Sticking with the seafood starters, in preparation of the heavy meats to come, the seared diver scallops come resting on a pea and lemongrass purée, dotted with bright green peas and shoots. The scallops are plump and prepared well: soft, bouncy and gleaming white all the way through.
Every inch full of deep earthy flavours
With a hint of old school glamour, the cuts of meat are laid out on a wooden board, shown off by the waiter who talks us through each cut, advising on the best for our tastes, and how it should be cooked. My guest opts for the churrasco de chorizo, a spiral cut, marinated in garlic, parsley and olive oil. And it’s fantastic, every inch full of deep earthy flavours, the meat so soft it almost melts on the tongue.
With eyes bigger than my belly, I opt for The Gaucho Sampler (skimming past the comment saying ‘For gluttony or sharing’). This is an almighty platter of meat, four huge chunks: rump, sirloin, fillet and ribeye, weighing in at a near-ridiculous 1.2kg. Of course, I barely make a dent in it, but spend the next two hours unable to stop slicing more pieces off. If you have to stick to just one cut, go for the ribeye. To my mind, this is the standout option, thanks to the marbled fat running through it, dark and charred, while the medium rare meat beneath stays beautifully purple.
For a truly lavish experience, ask your waiter to pair the wines
If you’re looking for a truly lavish experience, ask your waiter to pair the wines with your food choices. This is how you’ll come across exceptional reds like the Vina Patricia 2014, a Malbec from Mendoza, and possibly the finest mid-range red you’ll find in Manchester. Ink black in colour, and both rich and gentle at the same time, it’s almost too easy to drink. This is exclusive to Gaucho, and almost worth a return visit in its own right, but thankfully you can buy a bottle from their on-site shop to take home for a special occasion (which you should, and which I most certainly will).
By this point, dessert seems like an impossible task but the coconut tres leche sounds nice and light – and indeed it is. A coconut-flavoured flourless cake, paired with a nicely sharp pear sorbet that cuts through just enough to provide a neat end point to the meal.
A phenomenal end to a superb meal
But the salted dulce de leche cheesecake, as recommended by the manager, is something else entirely. A soft, wildly sweet cheesecake, topped with toasted marshmallow, resting on two strips on caramel and cream sauce, sat next to a pile of soft crumb. Without exaggerating, it’s the best dessert you’ll try all year, an expert combination of sweet and cream and cake so good it forces you to close your eyes to focus all your attention on the taste and nothing else. It’s a phenomenal end to a superb meal.
The steak scene in Manchester has hit fever pitch in recent years, with countless newcomers trying to make their mark. But where some places can have a slightly off-putting atmosphere, Gaucho takes a more elegant approach – nothing too pompous or macho, just top-quality produce prepared beautifully, with countless subtle touches that most competitors couldn’t even imagine.