My partner and I have seen the Tower Bridge branch of Gaucho a hundred times but never quite got around to going as it always seemed out of budget. We love the area for a stroll, though, and I lost count of the times we’ve pointed at it and said ‘that looks like a nice place to go.’
For our anniversary dinner, we managed to bag a Groupon deal, so finally we got to check it out!
Location and first impressions
Gaucho is right beside the Thames, meaning you’ll always be hit by a chilly breeze on all but the warmest days, although the stunning skyline – featuring skyscrapers like the Shard right next to the Tower of London – more than makes up for it.
This day, it was so cold that it was a huge relief to be blasted with warm air as soon as we stepped inside. The staff were still getting our table ready when we arrived, but we didn’t mind because we were so keen to check out the bar upstairs.
The bar – being at the back of the building – is hidden from the street, so we weren’t sure what to expect. And we were pleasantly surprised!
Whilst grand bars with epic views of London are something you should definitely experience at least once (see Sky Garden, Duck and Waffle or The View From The Shard), smaller, more intimate bars are special in their own way. Thus one has the right combination of gentle music and low-key lighting, plus we had the place all to ourselves, which suited us fine in such a small environment. In a larger bar, it might be kind of odd, but here it just felt like our own private room.
The cocktails were also fantastic. I’ve had many negronis in my life, but this was hands down the best one I’ve had. As soon as we had ordered, someone came to tell us our table was ready, but that we could take our time and come down whenever we were done. At this point, it seemed to be peak time, as almost every table was full, so it was pretty nice of them not to hurry us at all.
The main restaurant and food
Our seat was in a good location, looking out onto Tower Bridge on the left and the huge, impressive glass town hall on the right. If you come here on a warmer day or night, I highly recommend taking a stroll after you eat – nowhere else in London captures the city’s striking contrast between the old and the new in quite the same way.
I’ve made use of plenty of Groupon restaurant deals in the past, and even if it does usually limit the choices of what you can order, saving a bit of cash takes the sting away from that. However, in some places I’ve had difficulties trying to figure out what’s available from the menu when the staff aren’t aware of the voucher or how it works. Luckily, this wasn’t a problem at Gaucho – they even had a handy ‘Groupon menu’ so there’s no fussing around trying to figure out what you can and can’t order.
It’s worth mentioning here that our visit was before the London lockdown, so I think that this particular Groupon deal isn’t running currently, but this is likely because they’re extending their Eat Out To Help Out offer until the end of September.
As you’ll see, even though this is a steakhouse, they have vegan options, which is nice. For those who are really here for the steak, they make the selection easy: our waiter actually brought over a tray with three raw steaks on to show my partner the different options and talk through them.
Here’s where this review might be a bit disappointing if you’re a steak aficionado – I didn’t have the steak, so I can’t review that here. I had the hake, and we both had the pan fried artichoke as a starter.
Given how busy the place was, everything arrived surprisingly quickly.
Presentation is unfussy and everything tasted quite mild and gentle. As someone who puts an unreasonable amount of salt and hot sauce on anything and everything, my palate is probably not that sophisticated, but I was still able to appreciate it. I like a bit of a kick to my food, so perhaps next time I’ll have something else, but everything was perfectly made with well-chosen flavour combinations.
It’s worth mentioning that this is definitely a light meal – the portions are probably designed to go with more add-ons and sides. My hake was delicious, but could have done with some green beans or potatoes on the side to fill up the plate.
Overall, we both loved the atmosphere at Gaucho and were sad to leave – not only because it meant going back out into the cold. We’ll be back!