Review: Why Gaucho stands out from other Latina American restaurants in Dubai

The steakhouse was facing stiff competition before changes in management and food brought it back to life
By Lubna Hamdan
Tue 11 Jul 2017 03:38 PM

Few can argue that there isn’t a shortage of Latin American restaurants in Dubai, with cuisines from such countries as Argentina and Peru becoming increasingly popular across the city. Areas such as Downtown and Sheikh Zayed Road are home to dozens of Latin American concepts, while DIFC has at least a handful.

Despite a budding food and beverage scene, Dubai’s high rents and fierce competition make it especially difficult for restaurants to attract and keep clientele. Peruvian restaurant Totora Cebicheria in DIFC fell victim to the market saturation when it closed in March 2017.

Neighbouring Argentinian outlet Gaucho was also seeing a slowdown.

While we found the steakhouse to be successful following an opening in 2011, we noticed a shift in occupancy in 2015 and beginning 2016, where occupied tables were outnumbered by empty ones.

That all changed, however, when Gaucho switched management in July 2016. Having visited the restaurant several times in the past few months with no knowledge of the move, we instantly noticed the change in atmosphere and occupancy on weekdays and weekends.

The same was noted during our visit for dinner, but first, let’s discuss the food, which was also modified for a targeted clientele.

We started, as always, by devouring the kitchen’s freshly baked Latin breads; one of our favourite elements that keeps us coming back to Gaucho. Our most cherished is the arepa, which is slightly sweet, though the chipa with cheese filling is just as good.

We then tried the empanadas with mozzarella and cheddar as well as some with slow cooked lamb shoulder. Both were savoury and made with thin dough that did not overpower the filling. When it was time for mains, we had to opt for the rib-eye. Gaucho is, after all, a steakhouse. Cooked medium to well, the meat was tender and distinctively flavoursome. We also tasted the gambas shrimp skewer. Thanks to its garlic and parsley marinade, we found it to be juicy and exquisite.

The date and pecan tart with vanilla ice cream ended the meal. Surprisingly for a date dessert, it was not excessively sweet. We liked its somewhat soft dough and the pairing with vanilla ice cream.

Judging by the improved quality of the food and service, we were not surprised to find Gaucho’s profit increased by AED3m in 2017 compared to 2016.

Furthermore, the restaurant’s sales increased by 15 percent while its cost decreased by 19 percent thanks to better brand positioning and strict cost controlling measures introduced by then-director of operations Natissa Bouhezila, who has worked at the joint since July 2016.

Bouhezila said she created a friendlier atmosphere that targeted loyal clientele and resulted in strong recommendations. Given our experience at the Gaucho, we’d say we’d highly recommend it ourselves; either for a relaxing after-work evening or intimate weekend dinner, as the restaurant’s dimly lit and plush décor offers a cosy yet modern vibe.

It is also perfectly suitable for businesspeople in the area thanks to the G lounge, an area with its own menu that is often used for morning meetings and afternoon coffee breaks.

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