Friday, November 16, 2007

A dark day at Gaucho's

I’m very lucky as it is actually pretty rare I feel I have to slate a restaurant I’ve visited and most of the time I am having to pile on the accolades but Gaucho I am thoroughly ashamed of you! You have served stunning Argentinean beef on many occasions and though I’ve felt that sometimes your service left a little to be desired and frankly your restaurants are too dark, tonight you really let yourselves down.

When glamorous Swedish M said that part of her birthday celebrations would be taking place in a private room at the Gaucho’s where her equally glamorous sister works, I thought we were in for a treat. But it seems Gaucho’s were determined to make sure we had a memorable night for all the wrong reasons. The private room was fabulous; if I could have had it to go I would love it be my dining room at home and we were introduced to our waiter for the evening. We had quite a large energetic party and it seems we were a little much for our waiter, I wasn’t drinking tonight as I was only just holding it together with my lurgy so was rather medicated but I was sure they could whip me up an exciting strawberry cocktail. The drink I eventually got did seem odd and curiously devoid of strawberry but that transpired to be true as I had Swedish M’s other sister’s cranberry drink instead. And then we had to place our order, as we were a large party we had a smaller menu to choose from. The waiter seemed curiously baffled himself by the menu and kept changing his mind as to what the specials were, I can’t work out whether it was his first day here or he just found us intimidating. I thought I’d miss the starter as I normally do at Gaucho’s and have some cheese bread instead but the waiter said that I had to have something as it was included in the price. So I thought I’d try the mushroom soup. I wish I’d stuck to my guns and had the always pleasing cheese bread instead of that murky, thin and gritty soup that I could only face a couple of mouthfuls of. But I had a rare steak winging its way up to me so it really didn’t matter, that is what Gaucho is really all about. But when they turned up they were overcooked, a complete travesty and we were fairly sure people had been bought the steaks of the other diners. We tried to work out the rarest and Swedish M’s sister seemed to think that as hers was clearly swimming in blood it was the one plonked in front of her but as she’d ordered hers to be well done it didn’t seem right. So I swapped my clearly well past rare steak and tried hers instead. It was true that it seemed to be lying in a bloody pool but the steak was as tough as old boots and a mockery to be called a Gaucho steak. The side orders arrived quite a time after our main courses which was intriguing. Our waiter said he was struggling as the kitchen was downstairs from us and there was a lot to carry. Personally I think that isn’t good enough, are we supposed to have a worse service in the private room then we could expect in the restaurant? – very curious!

After our desserts we then had a surprisingly mammoth bill to split, I was only surprised as quite a few of us weren’t even drinking so clearly we’d paid a premium somewhere for an extraordinarily average meal. I was keen to pay sharpish as I had my last train to catch, but that was another farce as the remote credit card machines don’t work in their private room and the waiter had to meander off with my credit card. When finally he’d sorted it out I darted down to the cloakroom to grab my bits and run but yet again Gaucho’s seemingly aversion to light struck. There were totally no lights in the cloakroom and the attendant had been furnished with a pathetic little torch and as a special treat for us in the private room all our belongings had just been piled in a huge heap with no rhyme nor reason. Needless to say it was very tricky finding all my black belongings from a large pile of other black items in a totally black room. Thank you Gaucho – if the time it had taken to serve us, or pay the resultant excessive bill had not prevented me from catching my very last train then the joke of trying to locate my much needed coat etcetera before venturing out in the cold put any chances of me getting my train firmly out of my way. So not only was it an awful meal food-wise (though definitely not company-wise) I then had a ‘fun’ two hour journey home via tube, night bus and taxi to endure. A terrible end to a truly awful meal! I’ve had many delicious steaks at Gaucho to hopefully wipe out this one bad experience but several of my fellow diners had never been to a Gaucho and they all said they would never grace their dining tables again. So my advice is that if you are invited to dine in the private dining rooms at Gaucho One More Place – just say no, I know I certainly will!

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