Gaucho Charlotte Street

Gaucho - Steak tray

Gaucho – Steak tray

Gaucho is a name that needs little introduction. With a string of steakhouses throughout London, it is famous for it’s brand of grass-fed Argentinian cows which are left to roam freely over the fertile lands of the Pampas. The beef is then shipped chilled to the UK and is never frozen. Of interest to the diner is that Gaucho also offers a reasonably priced lunch menu (2 courses – £23, 3 courses – £26), a cigar menu, a selection of fine Argentinian wines as well as a take out service.

I headed to the Gaucho branch on Charlotte Street which is slick and shiny with black floors, black walls and chandeliers. Gaucho Charlotte Street has a clubby feel and a prevalence of moo-cow seat covers which are quite strong on the eye. There are also lots of circular booths for big groups. The restaurant has been designed so that diners can sit comfortably and really enjoy themselves.

The meal begins with a bit of theatre – the presentation of the meat board which showcases four key different cuts, these being the rump, sirloin, rib-eye and fillet, as well as the churrasco de lomo (more on this later). There’s a good range of cuts of steaks on the menu as well as varying sizes.

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Chez Boubier, South Kensington

Chez Boubier, Café de Paris has opened its first branch in London on Brompton Road in South Kensington. The restaurant serves the single menu (£26.50) of salad, bread and steak and fries with a Café de Paris butter sauce that has seen its 90-year legacy thrive across Continental Europe since 1930. Its famous Café de Paris butter sauce can be found in several locations around the world with restaurants in Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Hong Kong and the UAE.

Its signature trademark is not only the Café de Paris sauce but also the single menu that is promised to every diner at £26.50. The butter sauce was made famous by then owned Arthur-François (Freddy) Dumont of Café de Paris. The birthplace of the butter sauce is commonly mistaken for Paris, France however, it was actually conceived in Geneva, Switzerland by Dumont’s father in law, Mr Boubier inventor of the original butter sauce. It is considered a heavily guarded secret recipe enhanced with multiple spices, herbs and other ingredients. It is so guarded even the staff don’t know the ingredients!

We arrive to a warm and inviting décor that is relaxed with its striking red colour scheme. The interior takes you back to that unmistakeable Parisian bistro feel where you can cosy up to your own booth.

To start, we begin with a green salad served with Chez Boubier dressing and a side of bread. Don’t be surprised if they do not serve butter with the bread because there is plenty of butter to be had later on. I was even told that there is so much butter sauce that most patrons do not finish it. But of course, I was able to finish it!

Chez Boubier - green salad served with Chez Boubier dressing

Green salad served with Chez Boubier dressing

When your 180-gram sirloin steak arrives, you will notice that it has been slightly seared and slightly undercooked based on your serving preference. You also won’t miss the remarkable amount of Café de Paris butter used to nestle your gorgeous steaks. This plate is then placed on a burner to continue the cooking process and melt the butter sauce in and around your steak. The wait staff will assist by turning and basting your steaks but feel free to take the reigns and baste these beauties as well. The signature butter sauce is simply superb filled with robust flavours and herbs. No one can really confirm what it is in the sauce so the wait staff and I had fun guessing what was in the ingredients. You should see if you can pick out the ingredients too!

The steak was delicious, tender and of high quality. A perfect combination with the signature butter sauce, which was delicious, but very rich and a little salty. Included in the £26.50 menu are 3 servings of French fries and I would highly recommend having this dipped in the butter sauce.

Chez Boubier - Cafe de Paris butter & sirloin steak

Chez Boubier – Cafe de Paris butter & sirloin steak

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Sullivan’s Steakhouse – Austin, Texas

In Texas meat is king and nowhere did I experience this more in Texas then in Austin. Dinner one night was a steak meal at Sullivan’s Steakhouse, an American chain that had its origins in Austin some twenty years ago and is therefore an Austin institution. Alongside its hearty selection of steaks is a varied selection of seafood starters and mains dishes as well. Side dishes are also plentiful as is customary in a US steakhouse.

To start your meal at Sullivan’s I would thoroughly recommend the ‘knockout martini’ ($11), the Sullivan’s signature cocktail. This is made using Clementine vodka, infused with fresh Hawaiian gold pineapples for two weeks and it is this long slow infusion that provides the martini with its ‘knockout’ flavour. This martini easily deserved its signature cocktail status as it was delicious, beautifully sweet and yet delightfully refreshing.

Seafood starters on the menu included a jumbo shrimp cocktail ($16.50) containing five pieces of firm and reasonably tasty shrimp served with a well made cocktail sauce. Another seafood starter of shrimp and lobster bisque (bowl – $9, cup – $7.50) bore more similarities to a chowder rather than a classic French lobster bisque with a rich lobster flavour. It was pleasant in taste, and also a little spicy and would therefore offer a certain appeal for the most typical of American palates.

Sullivan's Steakhouse - Shrimp cocktail

Shrimp cocktail

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Gillray’s

Gillray’s Steakhouse & Bar offers an oasis of calm from the hordes of crowds hovering around the aquarium and The London Eye. The restaurant is part of the Five Star London Marriot Hotel County Hall and is located on the South Bank. With its wonderful location, it offers spectacular views over the River Thames, Big Ben and The Houses of Parliament.

The building in which the hotel is housed was once the home of the Greater London Council. The building is resplendent and still holds onto the glamour of a historical city building. Gillray’s décor is classically English and is in keeping with the look of a County Hall building.

There’s a cosy bar at Gillray’s where afternoon tea can be taken. The views from here are really good as well and there’s also a plentiful array of beverages including some eclectic cocktails such as Gillray’s molecular take on a pina colada (£13). Fresh pineapple is caramelised in a flame of Navy Rum and then shaken with Flor de Caña and pineapple juice before being finished off with a coconut foam and a chocolate twist. The Gilray’s pina colada was amazing, with a light refreshing taste and none of the heaviness of the more traditional pina colada recipes.

Gillray's - Amazing pina colada cocktail

Amazing pina colada cocktail

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The Rib Room

The Rib Room Bar & Restaurant in the Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel opened in the 1960s and soon became well known in Knightsbridge as ‘the’ place to go for its roast rib of Aberdeen Angus beef. Today The Rib Room remains a grand dame of an English restaurant. The voluminous dining room is filled with plush furnishings and is sumptuously decorated in a sea of green and amber. It’s the kind of place where, back in the day, you might have imagined customers dining in their dinner jackets.

Head chef Ian Rudge worked with Nigel Haworth at the one Michelin starred Northcote Manor and the two Michelin starred Whatley Manor and he brings a touch of the modernity to The Rib Room with his Seasonal Menu. But it was for its Classic Menu that The Rib Room became well known, and this menu is still available to diners to this day. The Classic Menu is fairly pricey so the seasonal menu at two courses for £49 and three courses for £58 offers reasonable value.

From the Classic Menu, half a dozen Loch Fyne Angel oysters (£15) were glorious with the oysters being fresh, creamy and extremely meaty. There was a shot of Bloody Mary to go with the oysters which was nicely done. With the gentlest hint of Worcestershire sauce, it livened up the flavour of the oysters wonderfully. We also asked for some vinaigrette which was excellent. The sweetness and acidity was really well judged to produce a vinaigrette that was one of the best that I’d ever tried.

The Rib Room - Oysters

Oysters

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The Meat Co

The Meat Co is a steak house situated on the Southern Terrace of Westfield’s Shepherd’s Bush. The ground floor operates as a bar, and upstairs is an enormous dining area decorated in warm dark tones. Established in South Africa in 2000, The Meat Co resonates meat through and through. The headline act is the Connoisseurs’ Choice of cuts, which included chateaubriand, wagyu and kangaroo. There are also super-aged steaks, and for something simpler, meat skewers and burgers are available as well. For non-red meat eaters there are also chicken, seafood and veggie options. Basically there is a little something for everyone.

From the starters we tried the burrata cheese salad (£13.50) which came with a tasty whole piece of burrata and fresh Roma tomatoes, cucumber, rocket, and hazelnuts. A balsamic dressing had been used, but the salad needed more seasoning.

The Meat Co - Burrata cheese salad

Burrata cheese salad

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Palm Restaurant

The Palm Restaurant in London is an American steakhouse that first opened in New York in 1926 and which has since grown to several dozen restaurants throughout the United States. The London branch feels American through and through, and is located on Pont Street in Belgravia, right next to the Belgraves Hotel, a destination hotel for many American tourists. It is therefore unsurprising that most of its clientele are Americans, like the ones we spoke to while we had a drink at the bar. It’s a classic American steakhouse through and through with its white-linen tablecloths, soft lighting and booth seating, and it suits the well-healed clientele of Belgravia well.

For something reasonably light to start ahead of our big meaty meal, we went for the half a dozen Colchester oysters on the half shell (£13), which gave way to a sea-salty flavour and rich texture. Also yummy was the beautiful sesame seared yellow fin tuna (£15.90) with pickled ginger, wasabi, mache greens and ginger vinaigrette. It was a delight to eat and it needed little by way of accompaniment because the fish was elegant and flavoursome.

Colchester oysters

Colchester oysters

Yellow fin tuna

Yellow fin tuna

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Fire & Ice, Raffles Hotel, Dubai

Most of the best restaurants in Dubai are located in the hotels, and Fire & Ice is no exception. A sophisticated grill situated in the Raffles Hotel, Dubai, its dark, earthy colours and brickwork décor gives the restaurant the look and feel of a big hitting New York steakhouse. Flickering flames guard the open kitchen and this adds to the sense of the restaurant’s drama. Raffles Hotel predominantly caters to a corporate clientele so the design of the restaurant suits its customers well. Fire & Ice specialises in a variety of quality cuts of meat prepared to your liking, although there is also a reasonable range of seafood choices.

Being part of the family that includes the famous Raffles Singapore, it would be remiss to not begin the meal with a Singapore Sling, or in this case, a Dubai Sling (AED70 – about £12), a delicious mix of Plymouth gin, coriander, chilli gomme, fig preserve, lemon soda and angostura bitters. Fire & Ice also has an extensive list of 700 wines, and was awarded the Wine Spectator’s 2013 Award of Excellence.

Our meal started with an amuse bouche of cured salmon perched on top of some pickles and bell peppers that had been fragranced with saffron and coriander seeds. It was delicious from the superb spicing, and the salmon was sweet and delicate.

Cured salmon

Cured salmon

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