Argentine restaurant is latest in a city swimming in sirloin
If there are two things that Dubai has in abundance, it’s tall buildings and steakhouses – and despite the excess of each, there isn’t a day that goes by when we don’t hear of a new one in the pipeline. The latest new launch is Gaucho, an Argentine steakhouse that became a household name in London, which lands in Dubai in October. But what can it offer a city that’s already swimming in sirloin?
To ask this is, according to newly appointed Gaucho international operations director Ryan Hattingh, to miss the point entirely. ‘I don’t want to be obnoxious,’ says Hattingh, ‘but we’re not a steakhouse. We specialise in Argentine beef.’ We’re not inclined to argue with the imposing South African. Besides, if there’s anyone who knows about steak, it’s Hattingh – the man has been grilling meat since 1983.
As you’d expect from any Argentine steakhouse (sorry, restaurant), Gaucho’s beef is imported from the grasslands of Rosario in Argentina. The vast majority of the restaurant’s grape-based beverages are from Argentina, with the exception of bubbly. The beef is taken only from Angus cattle, a shorter and stockier breed, meaning smaller, more flavourful cuts. But it’s the way the cattle are reared that Hattingh wants to convey.
‘We don’t supplement at all. By ‘supplements’, I mean grain, corn and any other stuff that they give to these animals,’ he says with emotion. ‘I know there’s a big market campaign around the fact the meat is being grain-fed and whatever-fed, but, at the end of the day, cows are made to eat grass and walk around and live happy lives.’ Until they end up on the plate that is.
‘Rearing cattle properly takes time and effort,’ continues Hattingh. ‘If you grain-feed cattle, you put them in feeding lockers – you’re giving these poor animals a buffet of grain and corn and all sorts of stuff, and they just stand there and eat. This way you get a lot of marbling and the animals fatten quicker, so instead of slaughtering them in two years they are slaughtered in 10 to 11 months.’
Hattingh’s opinions will doubtless ruffle feathers in Dubai, because the menus of many restaurants here proudly state that their steaks come from grain-fed cattle or wagyu farms.
‘If you take a grain-fed, corn-fed or supplemented animal, they’re put in a pen and within 24 months will weigh up to 700kg,’ continues Hattingh. ‘Our cattle will weigh between 300-400kg. What’s more, if you take a piece of rib-eye [from a grain-fed animal], the amount of fat is going to be between 24 and 30 per cent – much higher – and 80 per cent of this is going to be saturated [fat]. The animals can’t walk off the fat – they don’t move around, they eat bad stuff, so it’s not healthy for them or us. What’s more, you get a spongy texture that has no taste.’
The meat that will be served at Gaucho when it opens on October 1 was slaughtered at the beginning of September, packed by September 10 and preserved by a process called ‘wet ageing’, before being flown out to Dubai on September 23.
The long, intricate journey undertaken by Gaucho’s prime cuts is all the more remarkable considering the minutes, if not seconds, it takes to prepare a steak. Gaucho’s chefs use a custom-made German KSF grill, which warrants a mention not just for the built-in water bath (the water creates steam, lending moisture to the meat), but the fact that this equipment flies in the face of the notion that steaks should be cooked at high heat.
‘For me, this is one of the biggest myths about steak – you only burn it this way,’ says Hattingh. ‘We use corn oil [on the steaks] because it has no taste and a very high smoking point. We don’t want flames; flames lick the meat and burn it.’
The intricacies involved in rearing and slaughtering cattle, preserving and transporting the meat, and preparing and serving of steak, perhaps explain why Dubai is still in love with this seemingly simple dish: dining on good steak is to dine on a flavourful, complex back story. In this respect, the steakhouse is a unique breed of restaurant, which is why there’s always room for one more. Gaucho, we hope, will be a valuable addition – even if it’s not technically a steakhouse. Gaucho opens on Saturday October 1 at DIFC, www.gauchorestaurants.co.uk.
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Isabella Jan 30, 2012 06:22 pm
Best steak and best service in Dubai.
Delara Dec 08, 2011 02:00 pm
Being a huge fan of all the Gaucho's in London I was extremely excited to visit the new restaurant when I was visiting Dubai. Gaucho Dubai exceeded my expectations phenomenally! The restaurant itself is one of the most beautiful ones they have designed yet with incredibly high ceilings which makes it feel so spacious and open. The large bar area upstairs is perfect for a pre or post dinner drink or if you would like to eat there they also had an interesting looking lounge menu.
We were brought down to dinner by a lovely hostess who took very good care of us and also showed us the wine tasting room which is a beautiful glass walled room with endlessly high ceilings also. The food was absolutely delicious. The steak was cooked to perfection and the wine chosen for us by the extremely knowledgeable waiter was divine. It was very refreshing to see someone who really knew what they were talking about. After dinner we went back upstairs to a buzzing bar which was a wonderful way to end the evening.
All in all Gaucho Dubai was an incredible experience and I highly recommend it to all!
Vassilis Nov 25, 2011 12:03 pm
The place is very trendy, and I believe its location is perfect and will attract its desired clientele of yuppies etc. The lobby bar is quite large and one can sit down and actually have a conversation which is rare for Dubai , service was also good and smiling.
The restaurant is very bling, not so post recession but I guess it would be expected for a steakhouse in the DIFC. The night started by good service and we were offered the special martini of the day which a refreshing touch by waiting staff wearing 'pearls'.
The starters and main courses were overall good, nothing out of this world.The side dishes expect for the corn dish was was unusual were quite staple, the quality of the meat was very good however not matching jW steakhouse.
However the service during the meal just seemed to go down, the bubbly waitress started stressing as more tables started to come late. Our dessert order was a mess, we run out of water and had to ask for it 3 times (not so dramatic but the place is expensive) and the coffees were sent back.
The bill was an avg of 450 AED a person, with only one glass of wine consumed. Thats 90 EURO's and for me way overpriced, but its teething problems i'm sure...
Oh and paying for valet if you stay there more than 3 hours is a joke.
Mohammad Oct 18, 2011 11:01 am
The place is yet to be open. I passed by last weekend (15th Oct) and they told me the grand opening is no later than 4 weeks away.
Eva Krogdahl Oct 10, 2011 08:55 am
Please, I need a phone number so I can book for my husband`s birthday