Tropeiro363 Argyle Street,
0141 222 2102
£ – inexpensive
££ – mid-price
£££ – expensive
££££ – very expensive
A carnivore atmosphere
Review published on 26/07/2010 © Sunday Herald
Lets fast-forward, because as you will soon gather thats what the waiters need to do. Its the last cut of meat of the evening, and a huge skewer of lamb marinated in rosemary crisp on the outside, pink on the inside and with nuggets of garlic studded through it arrives at the table. Not on its own, because that would be truly spectacular, but transported by a waiter.
Well, not actually by a waiter, but by a blue-shirted gaucho. The reason is that tonight, ladies and gentlemen, we are eating the gaucho way. Yee-hah, or whatever the Brazilian equivalent is.
He carves a long slice. I take it from him with my tongs and slide it on to a plate which already bears testament to the carnage caused by the demolition of 11 (or was it 12?) different cuts of barbecued meat. The lamb is delicious moist, caramelised, juicy and full of flavour. Hallelujah. Or to put it more precisely: at last.
OK, lets rewind, back to the bit where just three or four cuts of meat have been brought to the table on long skewers from the shiny new grill contraption at the back wall that looks like a warming rack for swords. The cuts are carved by Mr Gaucho himself, because that is the style of this new Brazilian restaurant.
At that point the problem is as follows. The chicken thigh has been bland, the lemon-marinated chicken wrapped in bacon good and the bit of pork loin so-so. The meats have arrived at five-minute intervals, and there havent been enough to prevent the feeling of a stop-start meal that is low on quantity, a culinary version of postal chess. Is it a ploy to fill you up with the cheaper cuts first?
On the table, as part of the fun because, yes, there is a fun theme are two cards for diners to hold up. One is red and says: Stop, mate youre killing me with all this crazy, delicious gaucho meat. Or something like that in Portuguese. So far I have had no reason to use it. The other is green and says: Ay caramba keep it coming, my gaucho friend. Or something like that in Portuguese and not Spanish. Unfortunately there is no card for: Bloody hurry up. In Scottish. And its sorely needed.
For the first five minutes of the meal my plate is full of only salads, pickles, preserves and one or two spoonfuls of tender Brazilian stews. All these items have been picked up from the long salad bar in the middle of the room, but Im not paying the fixed price of £22.50 for salads rather dull ones at that.
What Im supposed to be paying £22.50 for is an endless parade of sizzling meats brought in the rodizio way that prevails in Brazil and Portugal, but at this rate it will be dawn before I get my moneys worth. Eventually, and frustrated by it all, I have a quick word with the friendly Scottish waitress that sends her galloping over to Mr Gaucho.
The meats start arriving sirloin, top sirloin with sea salt and garlic, fillet, bottom fillet called fraldinha, skirt steak and keep coming, sometimes two at a time. Theyre marinated, crisp and, while not mind-blowingly good and occasionally a bit chewy, largely decent. There are sausages too, not very nice ones, and moist yet crisp pork ribs. When the meat eventually starts to flow, it flows well.
This is an all-you-can-eat restaurant which appears to be part of a chain that is moving north, next stop: Aberdeen. Is it good? What I will say is its different. Once the skewers start doing the rounds there is no problem with the choice or the quantity or the value. It also makes a pleasant change from the other buffet operations out there.