“The salchicha is a sausage which is spicy by definition, an advanced-user’s version of the chorizo, with all of the latter’s advantages and with one added addition – a slight spiciness that spreads over the inside of the mouth. Well, truth be told, it isn’t so slight because my dinner companion was soon halfway to the cool waters of the duck pond…” There is nothing like a feast of meats when male bonding is called for.
Nothing competes with a meal of fine meats when bringing an exhausting day of school to a close. To my chagrin, however, my beloved girlfriend was stricken with the ever-brutal flu, and so could not accompany me to dinner. Now, how does a supportive and caring partner handle such a situation? He’ll fix his dear woman a cup of tea with honey, turn on the TV for her, cover her with a warm blanket and… will charge off to have dinner with a good friend. So we were away, Tevel and I (yes his real name is actually Tevel), on a short drive to El Gaucho and a pleasant evening of male-bonding, without a single mention of a female (well maybe a little, we are men, after all).
The restaurant is located at the center of a beautiful garden (free entrance for guests of the restaurant) which boasts several swings, slides, and a small pond, and trendy background music. Pairs of ducks and swans were swimming around in the pond, completely ignoring the two carnivorous males gazing upon them. We realized that this pond offers nothing to sate our appetites and decided to enter the restaurant. Rimon, the owner, waited for us at the entrance. A veteran restaurateur with years of experience, he led us to our table which was being set by Yigal, our waiter for the evening.
For starters, Yigal brought over 3 dishes: spring-chicken and vegetable enchilada, meat empanadas, and mushroom empanadas. The enchilada is a basically a roll of dough, golden brown and crispy, containing marinated chunks of spring-chicken combined with cooked vegetables , all with gentle seasoning that serves only to better the dish. The empanada is a slightly browned and stuffed pastry. Ours arrived stuffed with a mixture of ground beef and green olives, which added a slight bitterness to the overall meaty taste. The second empanadas dish arrived stuffed with a thick mixture cooked mushrooms. Both were served over a thin layer of sweet chili sauce. At this point Tevel mumbled something to himself, his mouth filled with food. Either he was expressing his satisfaction with the food or he was choking. Either way, I slightly ignored him and focused on my meal.
As we were finishing up our starters, Yigal arrived, all smiles, with our next course: chorizo and salchicha. The chorizo is the famous South American sausage, not spicy, juicy, and flavorful as is befitting any self-respecting sausage. On the other hand, the salchicha is a sausage which is spicy by definition, an advanced-user’s version of the chorizo, with all of the latter’s advantages and with one added addition – a slight spiciness that spreads over the inside of the mouth. Well, truth be told, it isn’t so slight because my dinner companion was soon halfway to the cool waters of the duck pond.
After a short break, it was time to bring out the big guns, so to speak. First up was a heaping bowl of Argentinean fries seasoned with garlic and parsley, along with two wedges of baked-potato garnished with seasoning-herbs, and a plate of salad with gentle vinaigrette dressing. Then there was a small grill. On top of this charcoal grill, and resting quietly (if you ignore the hissing of the coals), were a sirloin cut, entrecote steak, boneless and fatty asado, and cuts of spring chicken marinated in soy and honey. Yigal advises on eating the sirloin before it is too well done, and we follow this advice promptly. The sirloin, as expected, is tender and juicy, with a gentle seasoning of black pepper that only reinforces its fine taste and adds a slight aroma to the dish. The entrecote was properly done – a meaty dish requiring a set of sharp teeth but worth the effort. With some added chimichurri, it is even tastier. Last and certainly not least is the asado. Reuven the grill man explains to us that El Gaucho employs the Asador grilling system, which involves placing a sizeable chunk of meat over a small-flamed grill for slow preparation over 4-5 hours. Upon receiving an order, they cut the ap