If there is a heaven then I sincerely hope there’s room for a Gaucho restaurant because their food is, quite simply, godly.
The routine here is simple. Sweep past the minimalistic menu board and disappear down a metal stair which takes you off the main drag of Park Row. Enter a darkly lit subterranean emporium, full of secluded corners, glinting glass and slightly overwrought chandeliers.
There are cow hide chairs, cow hide walls and huge beguiling mirrors. If you were to get rid of the chairs and soften some of the edges and stick a DJ in the corner, it could be a nightclub.
The seclusion is embracing. There’s the slight whiff of decadence too, which is only enhanced when the waiter arrives with a wooden platter full of fresh cuts of beef.
He knows what they’re all called and where they all live on a cow and even though he runs you through all this, you won’t remember any of it, so don’t even bother trying. That’s not the point. The point is this is a little but of theatre.
Despite the spiel, I went for the 400g tenderloin which I’d already spied on their menu on Park Row. I asked for it to be done medium. It came with a delightful blue cheese sauce served in a little saucepan and a side salad sprinkled with toasted melon seeds and parmesan.
Quite simply, it was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. When it arrived on the plate, a thing of beauty, I thought, ‘I’ll never eat all that’.
How wrong I was.
From first mouthful to last, it was just glorious, the fat rendered just enough, giving it a nice soft crunch. The sauce was a sheer joy, unfolding layer upon layer of flavour, from its headline act of punchy cheese to more subtle hints of onion, mustard and a tiny whisper of lemon. Even the salad, which I tried to ignore, was good.
They also brought me an entirely unnecessary, although equally scrumptious, dish of fresh baked warm bread and butter and a kind of salsa vinaigrette.
I’ll admit that I was full just over half way through the steak but it was so good, it just kept beckoning me back for more and each time I went back, the better it seemed to taste. Seriously, you just don’t want it to end.
The only (slight) problem is the price. This little outing, which included a glass of house white, set me back £61.60.
That said, you should not let this bother you overmuch. For Gaucho is there to be savoured, honoured, even worshipped. For most of us, it will be a place to go for a rare treat. Yes, there are cheaper options but then again, how often do you get to taste a little bit of heaven?
Gaucho, Park Row, Leeds