Welcome to our new column One City Eats! As you might guess from the title, we’ll be reviewing some of our favourite meals in the City. It’s a tough job but someone’s gotta do it…
We’re kicking off our column with Gaucho in Chancery Lane.
A couple of weeks ago, we were invited to review Gaucho’s lunch set menus. Tucked away on the corner of Chancery Lane and Fleet Street, this location is perfectly placed between the City and the buzzing West End.
Gaucho first opened in London in 1994, taking inspiration from Argentina with a vision of bringing the world’s best steak to London. The very first Gaucho was on Swallow Street, in an area that was considered ‘off the beaten track’. The site (now the entire building!) is now home to Gaucho’s flagship restaurant in Piccadilly. The collection of restaurants in the UK has grown to 12 in London and 4 in Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh. Continuing to serve some of the finest beef in the world, complemented by an extensive food and wine offering in a contemporary setting.
From the moment we arrived, we knew we were in for a treat. The interior is sleek, intimate, but at the same time quite spacious. Perfect for a business lunch or a dinner date. Showcasing contemporary design, which reflects the modern Gaucho and a more modern Argentina.
We started our meal with some delicious CBD cocktails…yes, you read it right! CBD to calm you down and soothe your soul. And if you fancy a mocktail, The Punchy Peach, Ginger & Chai is quite possibly the non-alcoholic beverage of our dreams. Even more refreshing than regular lemonade, and very calming.
We then moved onto our starters, which included the Seabass Aguachile, watermelon Panzanella salad and a selection of empanadas. Covered in radish, cucumber, coriander, lime and toasted cancha, the seabass was simply delicious. Aguachile is a Mexican’s much spicier version of ceviche. ‘Cooked’ in lime juice, the acids cause the fish to go through this cooking process. A lip-smacking way of cooking fish, light and healthy, this recipe feels very fresh with lime and coriander.
We then moved to our mains. And of course, when in Gaucho, you must have a steak! We opted for their signature dish, the Churrasco Cuadril (take a look at our interview with Chef Steven Allen to read the recipe). Marinated in garlic, parsley and olive oil, Churrasco Cuadril is a specialty worth having as it offers a true taste of Argentina. The meat was tender and properly cooked with the juices flowing over the plate at the press of a fork.
However, there’s a whole lot more to Argentinian cuisine than steaks. Have your steak with a side of chips, or seasonal greens, or if you’re up for a special carbo-load… a side of Mac & Cheese never disappoints.
We ended our lunch with a selection of desserts, the limoncello and almond cake was superb and over-indulgent. But after all, isn’t Gaucho an appropriate place for some much-needed indulgence?! We’d like to think so. And if this is what a meal in Argentina is like, then book us a plane ticket.
It is fair to say that Gaucho is one of London’s culinary gems, serving a range of dishes in addition to Argentinian steaks that it’s famously known for. And when you think of Argentina, you immediately think of high-quality meat. Treat yourself to Gaucho’s superior meat dishes, alongside other traditional meals.
We sat down with Steven Allen, Gaucho’s Development and Training Chef, to talk about steaks and different cuts, his job, and tips for an aspiring chef.
Tell us a bit about your background and how you got to Gaucho.
I’m 40-years-old so it might take some time. I’ll tell you the quick version (laughs). I’ve been a chef since the age of 16, when I moved to London and did an apprenticeship at Boodle’s, a private gentlemen’s club. I then worked for an Italian restaurant for a year and then moved to Gordon Ramsay’s Restaurants, and I stayed there 10 years. I then moved to Claridge’s, where I started at the bottom and left as an Executive Chef.
I then decided I needed a break, not from cooking, but from London and was really interested in Asian food, so I went to Malaysia and eventually Singapore, where I worked at a restaurant called POLLEN. I then moved back to the UK with my wife just before the lockdown. Not exactly great timing. I was looking for a role that had to do with development and working with people, it took me 9 months to find this job. I went through a lot of interviews, but nothing matched what I wanted, until I came to Gaucho.
I spent a day in Gaucho, and I fell in love with it. It’s a big company, but they’re still using fresh produce, cooking good food, whereas a lot of restaurant companies, when they expand, they look at how they can produce things in bulk, buy products in.
At Gaucho we still use fresh beef, pair it, and prepare it properly. Everything comes in fresh, vegetables, potatoes, we use the best ingredients we can find. And for me this is the core of a great restaurant group.
What’s the best thing about working at Gaucho?
It’s using fresh produce. We train our chefs to be chefs, and how to cook a good steak, as well as understand the importance of seasoning.
What should one look for in the perfect steak?
For me it’s always about the crust of the beef. I always look for a good caramelisation, not black and grey, but a nice brown colour with char lines on it. There should be no blood flying around the plate, if there’s blood, then I’ll know it’s not been rested properly. When I see this happening, I often suggest ‘don’t serve that yet, leave it for a couple of minutes, let it rest a bit more before you serve it’.
Some people think cooking a steak is really easy, but there are so many different aspects of it. When you cut into it, it should be how you want it cooked. You need to make sure the cooking is right, and the seasoning has been done properly.
Red wine is usually the default drink for steaks. But are there are other beverages that work just as well?
I’ve changed over the years. When I go for a meal, if I’m not drinking, which is most of the time, I prefer to drink sparkling water with my steak. The reason is that I always look for a good product, so if I decide to have a steak, I will definitely go to a steak house first of all, I wouldn’t order a steak in a pub. The next thing is I would prefer to taste the steak, for this reason I choose sparkling water, as it cleanses your palate and you’re able to taste the steak and enjoy it. It’s not something you eat every day, so you need to appreciate it.
Apart from that, I’m a really funny drinker, so occasionally I like to have a nice IPA with steak. There are so many craft beers at the moment. When I lived in Singapore I used to attend beer tastings and have meat with beer as well. I would say a nice IPA, but generally speaking, I’m a funny person so I like to have my food with sparkling water.
If you like wine, red really is the best, especially with Argentine steaks.
For beginner cooks, what’s the easiest type of steak to prepare at home?
At home there are so many things which can go wrong, and you don’t have the same equipment and tools as you have in a restaurant, so you’re more prone to overcooking a steak. I would always stick with a nice fatty cut, like ribeye, as it’s got that nice fat content, so if you do overcook it, it’s not the end of the world. It’s still going to taste nice.
Avoid sirloin and fillet, as they’re very tender pieces of meat, and as soon as you overcook them, it’s game over. Unfortunately, it’s a very common mistake people make, my mum for example always overcooks her steak.
Can you share a steak recipe with our readers?
My favourite steak recipe is Churrasco de Chorizo. Usually, I won’t marinade steaks, but when I arrived at Gaucho, I really fell in love with it. It’s so flavourful and works well with the Argentine beef.
250g good quality sirloin steak 1 clove garlic 4 sprigs flat leaf parsley 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 pinches sea salt ½ lemon
You will need to butterfly your steak, do this by carefully slicing the steak through the centre but not all the way through so you can spread your steak out like a butterfly
For the marinade, crush the garlic, chop the parsley, grate the lemon zest and mix with the olive oil
Add your steak to the marinade and leave in the fridge for at least 4 hours to marinate or up to 24 hours for best results
When you’re ready to cook your steak, you should start cooking about 10 min before serving
Get a thick bottomed frying pan and bring to a high heat, literally smoking
Place the steak in the pan and season the steak
Leave the steak for 2-3 minute until nicely browned
Turn the steak over and season the over side of the steak
Leave the steak for 2 minutes and then remove from the pan and leave to rest for 4-5 minutes before serving
Serve with your favourite sides, I would suggest a simple Heritage tomato salad and baked potato wedges
What advice would you give to an aspiring chef?
The one advice I’d like to give to aspiring chefs is to research what you’re going into, it’s not as pretty as it looks on TV. If you love cooking, you also have to look at the other side, which is very different in reality. You don’t go into a restaurant to cook a dish and then leave a big mess behind. You have to constantly clean, tidy up, it’s hard work.
So, whenever I do interviews for staff, all I ask is ‘do you know what you’re getting yourself in for?’ You obviously have to be passionate about food, but also be aware of what goes with it as well, because there are so many people in our industry that go through 4 years of college, cooking nice food, without real experience. Then they come into a restaurant and instead of cooking a few different dishes every day, they’ll have to cook 3 or 4 dishes, 50-100 times every day. It’s a different environment, the passion is different, you need to have a passion for cooking 50 portions exactly the same, standing on your feet all day, cleaning up what you do, being in a hot kitchen.
So, do your research, get a part time job, see how the restaurant environment works. I started in a kitchen when I was 13, doing part time washing up and then doing hotel breakfasts at the weekend, and I loved it. I loved the aspect of food and camaraderie amongst the team. I didn’t mind the hours at all. When I was in Malaysia, I took an office job in a restaurant as a General Manager, and I really couldn’t cope with not being in the kitchen.
Most people who don’t like coffee say it’s because of the taste. If you don’t drink coffee because you find it too bitter, we’re here to make sure you find your perfect blend. Luckily for you, the City is home to a number of delicious independent coffee roasteries.
And just when it looked like summer was over, a heatwave finally arrived in London and is set to remain for most of the week. Whether you’re fully back to the office or are coming in the City only a few days a week, make sure to grab a coffee (hot or iced) on your way to work or during your lunch break. We’ve rounded up some of our favourites below.
Award-winning coffee shop Prufrock boasts a great menu that goes beyond espresso-based drinks. Here you’ll find a curated selection of filter coffees at the brew bar, which changes its menu every week. The iced filter coffee is always a great choice – whatever the weather… And if you’re feeling peckish, grab one of their pastries, or sit down for a proper London brunch!
Expectations of coffee quality are high around the Fleet Street area and Press Coffee & Co doesn’t disappoint. The coffee is their own roast, and if you look up on the walls, you’ll see different tubs highlighting all their blends and single origins and flavour notes. Bulk brew filter and Chemex are available as well as espresso-based drinks.
If you fancy a quick bite have one of their morning pastries, otherwise their lunch menu usually offers soups with homemade artisan sandwiches.
Just a short walk from St Paul’s Cathedral, you’ll find Alchemy at Ludgate Broadway, which has been serving exceptional coffee to the locals and City workers since 2013. Take a seat and watch the world go by with a slice of cake and a brew in their window seats or grab a take-away coffee and explore the sights the City has to offer.
Ozone is a major hit among City workers. Coffee isn’t limited to espresso and its offshoots, there is a daily changing pair of slow-brew specials, and the expertly roasted beans show well with this treatment.
The space is stunning, with exposed red brick walls and huge windows. The atmosphere is laid back, which makes it a great location for meetings, and working (if you’re not quite ready to go back to the office full time!)
For those of you who’ve had enough of mainstream iced coffees, Rosslyn is for you! The menu doesn’t only offer a long list of traditional coffees but also sweet treats, including a vanilla ice cream infused with coffee from Origin and dusted with chocolate powder.
Carefully sourced Brazilian and Honduran single-origin roasts and a two-bean blend from Nicaragua and El Salvador have been allotted to filter, espresso, and milk-based drinks respectively; the milk is perfectly silky and the latte art always impeccable.
What makes this place even more special is that the staff know their loyal customers by name and for most City folk this is the only café to go to.
As the name suggests, the ‘London Love Affair’ is designed to make you fall back in love with our city, and positively encourage you to return to London. Lots of businesses across the Square Mile have been supporting the campaign by offering discounts and offers to all their visitors.
We’re proud to support the campaign and are working alongside the Central London Alliance to bring you two exciting competitions. Last Friday we launched an Instagram competition on our page (@onecityldn), and you still have a few days to enter! Keep an eye on our page this coming Friday 13 August, as we’ll be launching another exciting competition…
In the meantime, check out www.londonloveaffair.com, and show your love for London by sharing locations that are special to you, including images of the capital, using the #londonloveaffair on social media. Good luck to all our competition’s entrants!
Mozzarella is one of the seven wonders of the world, or at least I’d like to think so. Moist, tender and creamy – it’s the perfect ingredient. Making fresh mozzarella is considered by many to be an art, from making the curd to the stretching process that gives it shape and texture. It’s one of, if not, the most popular Italian food specialty, and it’s now finally being made available outside of its birthplace.
Il Caseificio is a unique mozzarella bar at Eataly London, dedicated to offering fresh cheese handmade daily. It’s a great opportunity to watch the team transform local milk sourced from Devon into fresh mozzarella right in front of you. You can learn about the age-old process, enjoy fresh cheese inside their restaurants, or alternatively take some home! We sat down with Nicolò Calogero, Head Casaro (Mozzarella Maker) at Eataly London, and chatted about his job, mozzarella making, and of course, Italian culinary traditions.
Tell us a bit about your background and how you got to Eataly.
I was born in Messina, Sicily. My family has been in the mozzarella business for the past 30 years. I grew up watching my grandfather and then my father making mozzarella and it’s become second nature to me; when I was a teenager, I used to work in my family’s cheese factory in my spare time. It was important for me to continue this tradition, and I’m grateful that my parents wanted me to go to school and get an education. Once I graduated, I took this business seriously. I’m new to London – I saw the job opportunity advertised on Eataly London’s website and thought it would be amazing, so I applied and here I am!
What’s the best thing about working at Eataly?
I love Eataly as it feels like home. It’s a little slice of Italy in London. You can really breathe Italian smells in the air. What makes Eataly special is that it truly brings Italian traditions abroad, as we don’t only offer Italian goods, but most importantly their production, ranging from fresh mozzarella to pasta and pizza, dairy products and cured meats. We bring Italian tradition outside of its birthplace, and that’s our strength. I have never seen a mozzarella lab in a London store before – it’s unusual and our customers love it!
Another great aspect of working at Eataly is its internationality – my team is made of five people, and none of them is Italian. We even have someone from Australia who grew up with a passion for Italian food and culture, learnt skills back home, and then refined them here at Eataly. Passion for our traditions is all you need to make mozzarella.
Tell us about a day in your life.
My day starts at 5.30am and finishes around 3pm. The first thing we do every morning is receive fresh milk from a dairy farm in England. British milk is great, as it’s very rich with good nutrients and fats. The milk arrives here already pasteurised, brought up to a temperature of 85 degrees, and then back to the processing temperatures around 35 degrees. We then put it into boilers mixed with hot water, rennet and enzymes. We then let the mixture rest for a few hours, until the surface appears shiny and compact. The processing phase ends with the cooling of the mixture, which is then shaped into various shapes, including bocconcini, burrata, treccia (braided mozzarella), fior di latte and so on.
What is your favourite dish to cook?
I’m not a chef, but I like cooking. I particularly enjoy baking focaccia and pizza. And of course, what’s better than mozzarella and tomatoes on pizza?
Can you share a recipe with mozzarella for our readers?
I think mozzarella is best enjoyed on its own. A very simple yet great recipe is Caprese Salad, which is a great summer dish. Few quality ingredients that, when assembled together, make an exceptional meal! Recipe for two people below.
200gr mozzarella 4-5 fresh tomatoes (datterini are excellent) Fresh basil Extra virgin olive oil Salt Pepper
This recipe truly encapsulates Italy’s essence for its simplicity yet excellent quality.
What are your favourite spots in the City?
I’m new to London, I only arrived here in December 2020. However, I have to say I love pubs. I’m a fan of beer and the atmosphere in pubs is just great.
Last, but not least…did you watch the match on Sunday?