Monday, March 31, 2014

RESTAURANT REVIEW: Gaucho (Picadilly Circus)

Seeking to right the wrong I explained here of having not been to enough steakhouses in the capital, I popped just down the road from the last place I visited, to Gaucho, a famous Argentinian steakhouse. As with Hawksmoor, it, too, was steeped in prestige; with a man outside the restaurant, not to mention two women to take your coats at the foyer. The decor, however, can only be described as how a Londoner would picture Argentina to be like, with faux-fur draped tables and walls and wooden floor panels.

As for the steak itself, I was a little less enamoured with the filet steak I had at Gaucho than the ribeye I had at Hawksmoor. Partly that was my fault - I’d asked for it to be cooked medium, when really I should have asked for well-cooked. There was perhaps a bit too much blood for me in this one. On the plus side, there was absolutely no fat, so I demolished all 225g of it, but the price really was quite steep - £28.50 for this small quantity.

Fortunately, the starter and dessert were a lot more agreeable, if, also somewhat steep at over £9 each. For starter, I had a sort of grilled cheese concoction, and it was wonderful, made even more delicious with the spicy oil they put on all tables (bread, scones and butter come to you too). And for dessert, I sampled one of my favourite Argentinian treats: dulche de leche, as a side with a macadamia cheesecake. I am not exaggerating when I say it was one of the finest cheesecakes I’ve tasted, although, again, I have a foible with the measly size. For the cheesecake, rather than the steak itself, it’s worth visiting Gaucho.

I think the biggest stumbling point for Gaucho is that they didn’t offer a lunchtime express menu like Hawksmoor. At Hawksmoor, I had a starter, handsome helping of steak and dessert, for just over thirty quid. Here, just the steak itself was almost £30, and it was a paltry amount as well. So when it comes to picking between the time, I am firmly in the Team Hawksmoor camp.

Grade: B-

Saturday, March 22, 2014


I had a pretty awesome night getting drunk on Thursday in Dirty Martini, just off Oxford Circus. I thought I'd recommend the place to you, and help a brother out: on the website, they list their contact numbers, but they're 0844 numbers which cost an arm and a leg. Here is the 0207 number, which is much cheaper to call (and free if you have free minutes);

0207 659 0860

Happy drinking!

Sunday, March 09, 2014

RESTAURANT REVIEW: Hawksmoor (Picadilly Circus)

For a self-proclaimed foodie, I have visited shockingly few steak joints. This year, I will set to remedy such a wrong, and I started with the much-hyped Hawksmoor. It was a bit pricier than the usual places I go to, but if any restaurant epitomised "you get what you pay for", it was this classy joint.

For £23, you can have the “express menu”, which is a starter and a main from a pre-elected selection. For a few quid more, you can have a dessert, so it was pretty much a no-brainer. And given that Hawksmoor is much-esteemed for the quality of its steaks, I thought this was a very reasonable price indeed, particularly given the high quality of the food.

I like to have my steaks cooked medium, so that there’s still a juicy bit of blood seeping out. The one at Hawksmoor was rich, succulent, and utterly filling - so much so that I had to leave a bite or two, lamentably. For sauce, I’d ordered bĂ©arnaise sauce, and it was delicious and complemented the meat perfectly. My side of choice were chips, and I’m delighted to say they elevated themselves above the usual bung-it-in-the-oven-job I’ve come to expect from most restaurants in their haphazard treatment of chips as an afterthought. The chips at Hawksmoor were handcut and marinated with just the ideal amount of butter and salt.

For starters, I had shrimp on toast, which as as good as it sounds and looks, although the portion size could have been larger. And for dessert I had peanut butter shortbread, which was not something I’d heard of before. Hawksmoor’s decor, by the way, seemed quite 50’s American with its oval lamps and dark green high-topped seats, and this sweet treat may have been in the vein of that, as peanut butter is not a ingredient seen in many British menus. Anyway, it was heavenly; the blend of soft ice cream with hard shortbread crust worked a charm. I had thought after my steak I couldn’t digest another bite, but I wolfed down my dessert in a matter of seconds.

The only downside of the place was that when I arrived, the woman at reception was a right snooty cow, and chose to purposely misunderstand what I was saying (just because I’m Chinese doesn’t mean I can’t speak English, love). But that didn’t put a dampener on my lunch, which genuinely was one of the finest steak dining experiences I’ve had.

Grade: A-