To say Gaucho has been on my (practically never-ending) list of places to visit for awhile is quite the understatement. Having heard of their business lunch ages ago, I had been waiting for the right time to check it out. With the Eid holiday to ease any traffic issues and needing a palate cleanser from the disastrous night before, Hubs and I popped over to the Gate Village at DIFC, no reservation necessary (and parking with ease).
Having a look at the menu ahead of our visit, I loved the concept of ‘Be Good’ versus ‘Be Great’ for the business lunch — essentially, a chance to save a few calories (but certainly not compromising on taste), you can choose a lighter option (which I did). Hubs, being the intrepid diner that he is, found the ‘Be Great’ menu to be right up his alley. Drink recommendations are also listed, should one be so inclined.
If you’ve not been, Gaucho is a truly unique restaurant and one of my favorite fit outs in the city. While there is a chic dining room and sophisticated lounge, there are also private rooms, the ‘igloo,’ outdoor dining space, and a dedicated wine room (which I think can act as a chef’s table, should one be so inclined). Any of these spaces can be set up for private dining, or for one of the many events the restaurant hosts (honestly, there are a number of unique dining experiences every month at the venue).
As directly compared to our experience 12 hours previously, literally each of the staff we interacted with at Gaucho was friendly, polite, and professional. With each conversation, it was clear that top industry standards were in place throughout the restaurant. So, how about the meal?
I started with the citrus crab crostini, while Hubs chose the baked shrimp. However, before we were served our first course, we were provided with a deluxe serving of bread, complete with salt, pepper, and a fantastic homemade chimichurri. Honestly, this is one of the better bread baskets I’ve enjoyed in the city (and might be my favorite).
My crostini was plated beautifully and while I could’ve enjoyed perhaps a tad more texture (cucumber or celery come to mind), a pinch more heat (a dash of chili flakes) and maybe a squeeze more lemon — all that being said, it was light and refreshing. Hubs’ prawns came in their own little skillet and disappeared quite quickly. Dieters, take note, the shrimp were literally swimming in garlic butter (complete with sourdough toast), so just know the Gaucho team doesn’t shy away from their ‘Be Great’ mantra.
For our mains, I chose the Flash grilled rump steak (200g) and Hubs picked the Rib eye steak (200g). We both asked for a preparation of Medium rare, and that is exactly what we were served. As the ‘Be Good’ menu boasts an estimated 500 calories in total, I could hardly believe the amoung of food I was able to eat for the calories. For my part, the steak was almost too big (although, to be fair, I’m not sure there is a 150g cut on a menu anywhere). With a salad including grilled corn, chili, and a light dressing I was quite happy with my choice.
Hubs’ steak was an equally lovely cut, and came with chips (that of course, I had to sample) as well as mushroom and peppercorn sauces (we had a preference for the mushroom flavor). What I like about Gaucho is they, for lack of a better description, respect the meat. You do not need to do much with a nice steak except to season it and cook it well. I would be happy to order either of these dishes again.
I opted out of the dessert, but Hubs chose the dulce de leche brownie (yes, for those wondering, the Be Good menu also offers desserts, albeit healthier choices). While you might have thought we would split this beatuiful chocolate creation, this one was all Hubs. With real vanilla ice cream, I think Gaucho does quite well with this classic sweet dish (but not enough to break up my love affair with the campfire s’mores at The Hide).
While the meal in istself was a wonderful experience, this was made much more enjoyable by the fact of how reasonable the cost was! Two courses for me (plus bread) came in at AED120, Hubs’s three courses were AED150 not to mention a nice glass of Sauvingon Blanc for AED45 (do you hear me, Pierchic? I paid MORE THAN DOUBLE for a similar glass two weeks ago). Even better? The menu changes monthly. I’d even go back in September to try the options I didn’t get the chance to sample during our visit.
Like my visit to Laluz, opting to try the busines lunch only whetted my appetite to go back and make reservations for dinner or brunch. So, kudos to DIFC, who, as a destination are consistently putting up wonderful, world class food. Next on my list is to try and get to R Trader for their business lunch offer (let me know if you’re interested in joining).