It’s been quite some time since I last sat down with the Editor of Northern Soul to break bread and chew the fat.
What with full schedules, deadlines and general busyness it had been difficult to pin down a time and a place to catch up. Promising not to pull any tricks, ruses or hearty wheezes, we agreed on April Fool’s Day at Gaucho to try its new lunch menu.
Gaucho is undergoing a slew of changes, including new menus, new interiors and a new ‘destination’ bar. Exciting times and all enthusiastically explained by Angus and Daniel who met us on our arrival on what was a typically bleak Manchester afternoon. Warmed by a gin and tonic (while I’m not entirely sure you can be warmed by a gin and tonic, I can only say that the mere sight of one brings me sunshine), we sat down.
Gaucho is housed in an old Methodist chapel with its organ intact and playable. The ceiling is Victorian-high, giving the room light and air but none of the temperance tone that must have filled it with brimstone and abstinence all those years ago.
Forswearing my Methodist upbringing, I ordered a bottle of the Luigi Bosca pinot noir from the Mendoza region. It had legs longer than Twizzle (showing my age again, Twizzle was an early Gerry Anderson TV puppet whose arms and legs could expand at will), a nose to be proud of, and a long, long finish.
The meal soon showed up courtesy of the friendly, informative and attentive Francesca. We started with a selection of breads and cured meats. Beef and chilli salami, bresaola and chimichurri cured salt beef (all delicious) were followed by small beef empanadas. These were pastry parcels of diced beef flavoured with red peppers, onion and aji molido (Argentinian ground pepper) that wetted the appetite rather than swamping it, leaving plenty of room for our mains.
We both ordered the rib eye steak and chips, served with a béarnaise sauce and a side of chilli-spiced broccoli and a humita -sweetcorn and pumpkin in melting mozzarella. They came perfectly medium and handsome as any Argentinian-reared steer. The chips were good too.
Of like minds again, we finished with the smooth lemon posset and raspberry tuile and washed it down with a glass of sweet, crisp amalaya. I couldn’t get Helen’s opinion of this as it mysteriously disappeared as fast as a New Mexico roadrunner. Deliciously beep beep.
After a splendid two hours and more at table, we had a final gin and tonic, a Principe de los Apostoles unique to Gaucho, before setting off into the still bleak Manchester afternoon. Full and a little drunk, it didn’t seem to matter so much.
Where: St Mary’s Street, Manchester
When: the Lunch Menu is served 12-6pm, 2 Courses £23, 3 Courses £26, drinks extra
More info: www.gauchorestaurants.co.uk/restaurants/manchester/