Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Gaucho Grill

Our New Year's Resolution for the year was to eat at a restaurant in the L.A. area that we'd never eaten at before at least once a month.  This sounds easier than it really is...at least for us.  So far we're on track, but we usually don't get around to trying somewhere new until the end of the month.  Once again, we had reached the last week of the month and hadn't tried a new restaurant yet, so last night we decided to correct that.

We found a Groupon for Gaucho Grill in Woodland Hills.  The menu looked varied, and the reviews were okay, so we decided to give it a try.

We arrived around 7pm, and the restaurant only had half a dozen or so tables filled.  We were told we could sit wherever we wanted.  We chose a table near the windows.  Actually, they're doors, but they looked like windows.  We looked over the menu.  My husband was considering one of the sandwiches, and I was torn between a couple salads, but in the end we decided to order the Parrillada, which was intended to be shared by 2 people.  It comes with skirt steak, New York strip, half a chicken on the bone, chorizo, and sweetbreads which are all served on a hot grill.  It also comes with two sides, mashed potatoes and grilled zucchini.  Our waiter said we could substitute any other sides for the included sides if we wanted, but we decided to stick to the potatoes and zucchini.

While we were waiting for our food to arrive, we were given a bread basket and chimichurri sauce.  There were slices of both white and wheat bread in the bread basket.  I chose a slice of wheat and spread it with the chimichurri sauce.  The bread was fine.  It was soft and fluffy.  I think I was expecting something more along the lines of flatbread or pita bread, but it was good.  The chimichurri sauce just tasted like olive oil to me.  I like a lot of flavor, and I didn't taste much.  I like the chimichurri sauce my husband and I make much better.  It's a pretty simple but incredibly flavorful recipe I found in Sunset magazine.  (Click here for our chimichurri recipe.)

The interior of the restaurant seems a little confused.  It's pretty dimly lit and leaning towards the rustic and romantic side, except that there are several TVs at one end, and the ceiling are really high with exposed ventilation, which gives it an industrial feel.  It was also really cold inside.  I usually bring a jacket with me in case there's strong air conditioning, but even with my jacket on, I was cold.

My husband noticed plates of food being brought outside, so we asked if we could move to a table outside.  There were plenty of empty tables, so our request was accommodated without a problem.  I liked it out there better.  It's too bad their location is right next to the entrance of a shopping center, but there were palm trees and flowers along the edge of the patio which improved the view.  The music was piped outside.  It sounded a little like elevator music, but it was better than no music at all.  Between that and the traffic, it was kind of hard to hold a conversation.

Once our food arrived, we were too busy eating to talk anyway.  I tasted everything before adding any extra seasoning to it, and I thought it all tasted really bland.  A little salt and pepper helped immensely.  I liked the skirt steak and the New York strip the best.  We ordered them cooked medium, and they were perfect, no pink but perfectly tender.  The chicken was okay, but a little bland.  I didn't like the chorizo or the sweetbreads.  They were way too greasy.  The mashed potatoes were cold by the time I got around to tasting them.  They were okay, but once again, bland.  My favorite part of the meal was the grilled zucchini.  It was served on the grill under all the meat, so it had a nice flavor.  It makes me think I need to start grilling zucchini at home.

In short, everything is fine, and the meat is cooked well, but I didn't find anything exceptionally great.  I don't think we'll return.  I'd prefer just to make chimichurri at home with grilled zucchini and skirt steak.

Happy eating!

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