When my brother and sister-in-law went on their around the world trip a few years back I was probably most enchanted with their stories of life in Argentina. They said the people were very friendly, the beer flowed like wine and they felt like beautiful Beunos Aires could easily have been somewhere in Europe. Being a carnivore, the part I most clearly recall was my brother’s statement that you could have an amazing steak anytime and almost anywhere for a fraction of what you would pay back home. I have never been to Argentina but when I need to find a ‘happy place’ I think back to those stories with a big smile on my face.
El Gaucho is located conveniently on the corner of Sukhumvit 19 next to Terminal 21 and is the Blue Point Group‘s first foray into Thailand following quickly on the heels of 1 location in Hanoi and 2 in Ho Chi Minh Vietnam opening up in 2011. When the renovations started a few months ago I was very curious to see how this place would fit into Bangkok’s steakhouse scene and last week we had the pleasure of checking it out.
Just before entering the restaurant there is a very large patio that I could envision being a popular place to have dinner during the cool season or having a drink and a cigar. The ground floor has a nice bar where you can watch the grill master do his thing while having a cocktail before heading upstairs for dinner. The restaurant’s odd long and narrow shape is actually a blessing as there is plenty of glass along the length of the dining area. The second floor mixes a smart blend of seating options featuring a large semi private room at one end, ample bar style seating in the middle and various sizes of tables throughout. Something that I don’t see that often in a dining room (maybe I need to get out more) is the lower tables and chairs which would be a perfect place to share a few appetizers and a bottle of red wine with friends on a rainy night.
Speaking of apps (not the programs on your phone) we started off with the homemade spicy salchicha and an order of chicken empanadas. The salchicha is chorizo’s skinnier brother and we both liked the strong paprika flavor and not overly oily texture. The chicken empanada was filled with a nice mixture of chicken and sauteed peppers and the flaky pasty was the highlight of the dish.
For the main course we had the mixed grill which came with a grilled spring chicken breast, bbq pork ribs, salchicha sausage, rib eye steak and a grilled vegetable skewer. The bbq ribs were a little on the sweet side for my tastes but were probably the most tender I have had in Thailand. I loved the hot off the grill flavors on the fresh chicken and C.B. especially enjoyed the nicely grilled fatty rib eye steak. Both meats were seasoned with just a pinch of sea salt and that allowed us to enjoy the true flavor of the meat.
We couldn’t leave without trying some dessert and C.B. chose the cheese cake with strawberry sauce and I opted for the apple and raisins wrapped in filo pastry and vanilla ice cream. I had low expectations for the desserts but couldn’t have been more wrong. The cheesecake had a fantastic crust and the hint of orange zest definitely set it apart. The flaky filo pasty was a welcomed change of pace and the apples were cooked perfectly. We both agreed that El Gaucho would be a perfect place to go for a late night dessert.
On the night we were there the place was almost full to capacity and here are the reasons why I think it has a good chance to stay that way:
1. The price for a comparable steak (though not cheap compared to the west) is about half the price of the big steakhouses in town such as The New York Steakhouse or Rib Room & Bar. I know there are thousands of expats like me that would love to have a steak once in a while but can’t justify spending $75-$200 per piece of meat (Damn you import duties!). At El Gaucho the prices are within a much more reasonable range of approximately $30-$100 per cut.
2. Everything is freshly prepared in house.
3. Great central location.
4. Service. A large amount of the staff are NOT Thai and the difference in friendliness is night and day. The wait staff from the Philippines and Europe have terrific English and their easy going friendly manner is such a refreshing change to the often lazy and rude service that is sadly the norm in Thailand. El Gaucho’s service may not be as slick as a 5 star hotel but they more than make up for that with attitude.
El Gaucho is a breath of fresh air in Bangkok’s over-priced steak scene. If they can keep their food quality and service standards high, I think I might have just found my new happy place.
El Gaucho Argentinian Steakhouse
8,8/1-7 Sukhumvit Soi 19, Sukhumvit Road,
North Klong Toey, Bangkok 10110
Opening hours: Daily from 4PM until late
Reservation – Tel.: +66 22 552 864 l Email: firstname.lastname@example.org