Gaucho in London is synonymous with Argentinian beef. They have a monopoly on the stuff. I was walking past their Gaucho Smithfield outpost just the other day, and as I'm always scouting for places that do a burger, and as I've eaten 35 day aged Argentinian beef steak at Gaucho a number of times, and absolutely love it, I made a bet their burger was going to be pretty tasty too!
The Gaucho visual identity is sleek and sophisticated (the colour black has long been used to market luxury goods based on its association with power and exclusiveness), and the interiors of their restaurants reflect that with dark wood tables, cow hide chairs, and subdued lighting. Even on table the luxury feel is extended with large shiny silver cutlery, brilliant white napkins, and thick cubed-crystal candle holders, all the way down the to cool, thin menus that concertina out to reveal their wares. Gaucho sponsorship of the London polo extravaganza lends nothing but gravitas to this exclusive brand postitioning. But sod all the marketing crap, do they make a good burger?
|Only one restaurant in London offers this much cow hide|
|Luxury bread and a crystal cube candleholder sit elegantly side-by-side|
At £16 for the Gaucho burger, and an extra £3.10 for chips, this is my most expensive burger to date. At £19.10 for burger and chips, I'm expecting great things.
Bored. The presentation of the burger was slap-dash. Served lid-off on the plate, a single curl of gem lettuce covered a dollop mustard mayo that had been slapped onto the lid of the bun. On the bun bottom, what could only be described as a ball of anaemic-looking mince was plonked on a couple of rings of onion and tomato, and perched on top were a wedge of cheddar, and a piece of rather tasty looking bacon - the only redeeming aspect of this presentation. Chips looked great, served in a separate bowl on the side.
Bacon was the star of a rather underwhelming set of toppings, it was a thick tongue of char grilled, salty, streaky bacon. The Dansglad cheddar was still in hard slab state rather than being nicely melted, and was even sweating - possibly at the sight of a ravenous burger blogger giving it the third degree. Chipotle chutney was a nice idea, but the chipotle was drowned in the preserve. The malbec mustard mayonnaise was neither malbec-y nor mustard-y.
This could have been so good. This burger is made up from cuts of 35 day aged sirloin, rump, fillet, and rib-eye, minced together and hand-formed into a patty. Salivating yet? Well don't.
I requested this be cooked rare, and rare it was. What I hadn't expected was the anaemic bowling ball of barely cooked mince that appeared in front of me. Please don't get the wrong impression, I am a big fan of very rare meat, but the white, emulsion-like surface to the pattyball with the merest hint of char-grill lines was less than appetizing. The way it was structured also meant that when lidded and squashed the fats hadn't had a chance to bond the meat and so the whole thing began to unravel as fast as the post-Lehman banking crisis.
The only mitigating factor was that the raw mince had a deep aged beef flavour.
Good. The bun was the winner here, again proving that a glazed, part-brioche bun is one of the most appropriate vehicles to absorb the juices a burger can throw at you, not to mention mustard mayo, and chipotle onion chutney.
The chips were great. Hot, crispy and crunchy. They were a cross between pub chips and french fries, and were delicious. Bread left untouched in case it incurred a hefty cover charge...
Overall Rating: 4/10
This is a fecking terrible burger. If you eat at Gaucho, have the steak. The burger is shit. You can have a more appetizing, better executed burger at the Bishop's Finger, just the other side of Smithfields market. In fact, you can have TWO Bishop's Finger burgers for the price of one Gaucho burger. The problem is the ingredients are good but the execution is atrocious. Gaucho, for what it's worth, no amount of polo sponsorship or cow hide or dark wood can buy your way out of serving up such anything as terrible at this burger. Especially at £16 a pop.
On the back of that burger rant, I would like to note that the service I received was excellent and my waiter was very attentive, a ray of light on an otherwise quite uninspiring burger experience.