Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The good, the bad and the Gaucho

I love Gaucho's. Well I love their juicy Argentinian steaks, the warm, oozy cheese bread, their cow hide décor, the abundance of chandeliers (I'm a sucker for a chandelier) and of course the theatre that is the meat presentation. But there are some things I don't like about Gaucho. They are generally way too dark and possibly because of the gloom the service can be a little random. Maybe the waiters and waitresses genuinely can't see their diners are deficient of something or in one case are even there at all. I was told by American J to not be too harsh about our visit to the new Gaucho near London Bridge tonight but to make up for the superlatives I've heaped on them in the past I also want to tick them off for various transgressions.

Firstly, there were nine of us but they opted to seat us at a table which I would think would normally accommodate six but we're friendly and a round table is so much sociable so I'll forgive that. We got a few bottles of water but our waiter/waitress (we had several) didn't pour any for American J and then squirreled the remaining water away out of reach.

We had the slabs of meat show and tell and most of us opted for their fine steaks and we ordered a multitude of sides to share. I bucked my usual trend and opted for a rump steak with béarnaise sauce. The cheese bread was a fabulous as ever!

But it really started to go wrong when the steaks, sausages, fish and an allotment of vegetables turned up. Eight mains were laid in front of the grateful recipients but it was difficult to squeeze in all the side dishes. One spot that seemed to be the most accommodating was directly in front of H, in the space that we may have expected her steak to reside. But repeatedly the incredibly observant waitresses would plonk a dish in front of her. And each time I enquired "where on earth would her steak go?" Apparently the answer was nowhere as our smart waiting staff didn't seem to notice that even though there were nine of us there were only eight main dishes. Eventually someone conceded that an omission was made promised to conjure up the missing steak and H started on the fat chips. However when the steak turned up it wasn't even the one H had ordered so long ago. Cue more promising to resolve the mysterious steak swapping issue and recompense and in the mean time H had a few more chips. Eventually it was decided that as we'd nearly finished our meals that H would eat the wrong steak and wouldn't be charged. I asked what they were going to do about most of the side dishes now being cold. This threw them entirely and they mentioned something about a free dessert also.

Now as generous as this seems, surely when you go out with a group of people you want to enjoy your meal with the rest of them, not eat a late, incorrect steak with tepid vegetables and then be rewarded with a free dessert. I guess the only saving grace was as that H had been amusing herself by eating their rather fine fat chips she wasn’t too bothered with eating any steak after that.

As they were so very keen to order dessert we ordered a few for the table to share which were carefully squeezed in the centre. And then we though how are we to share these out. So we asked for a dessert plate, someone rushed off and duly grabbed a stack of plates but apparently straight from the dishwasher. Now typically when eating hot food I am very keen on a hot plate to maximise enjoyment but the contrary is also true when I am eating a cold dish. Well I don’t necessarily want a cold dish but definitely not one that is hot. And straight from the dishwasher will guarantee a hot dish and that’s what we had. And as we scoops the parfaits, the ice creams and sorbets they almost instantly wilted and melted on the hot dish. Hmmm not the finest finale!

I am still a huge fan of Gaucho’s, the excellent steaks ensure that but the service can be very haphazard so as much as I’d still visit I’d be loathed to inflict a possibly chaotic meal on a client. So Gaucho will remain a solely 'understanding friend' experience from now on.

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