It’s been just over a year since, motivated by environmental concerns, my meat-loving other half announced he didn’t want us to eat beef at home. Overnight, we went from eating steak three or four times a month, to eating it as a treat once in a blue moon (and then only when we could be sure of the provenance). We have no doubts on that front when it comes to the new Gaucho.
The Argentinian steak chain is now in its 25th year and under new leadership. With that comes a bold new socially responsible future vision. One that is articulated in the radically renovated Charlotte Street restaurant, which reopened late last year.
Gone is the cowhide which typified the original site, in its place, richly textured accents of ochre, deep blue and grey that bring to mind the wild Argentine landscapes. Buenos Aires is a city rich in Art Deco influences, and that is reflected in the dramatic mirrored bar that takes centre stage, while intimate leather seating booths evoke Argentine’s gaucho-country. Everything exudes glamour.
As we sip pre dinner cocktails, the bartender explains the new concept to us; prestige Argentinian wines are available on tap, transported in kegs – significantly reducing the CO2 emissions associated with transporting bottles. In fact, the whole set up here will be carbon neutral by the end of this year, thanks to work carried out with the University of Cambridge and the University of Buenos Aires. Collaboratively they have studied the methane output of Gaucho’s cattle, in order to design a new style of feed which will reduce it. And they are offsetting the carbon they are producing by planting trees in Argentina. Socially responsible too, they’ve worked with five key partnerships, including Clink and Only a Pavement Away to deliver a more inclusive workforce, and ten per cent of the team here have been recruited through these partnerships.
We’re seriously impressed, all the more so by the food. Reinvigorated menus have been overseen by new culinary director Mike Reid (ex Le Gavroche and Restaurant Gordon Ramsay). There are plentiful seafood options, including a divine scallop ceviche starter, but the steak is, of course, the hero. My ancho comes beautifully marbled and so tender that there is no need for a steak knife. Worth breaking the ban for; we’ve no doubt we’ll be back.
60a Charlotte Street, W1T (020 7580 6252; gauchorestaurants.com)