True to its Argentinian roots, Gaucho Birmingham puts steak and red wine firmly at the heart of its offerings. Before you even get started, a waiter brings over his wares - slabs of various raw steaks - to explain the various cuts of beef and what you get for each type.
You may not have noticed Gaucho as it is hidden down a side street off Colmore Row in Birmingham city centre. Although its address is 55 Colmore Row, the entrance is actually in Church Street and almost opposite Hotel du Vin.
Down a discreet entrance, it opens out into a foyer before you enter through double doors into a lavish dining room. Cosy yet luxurious, the golden shades, elegant lighting and sleek fittings give a thrilling first impression. This feels like a special place to dine.
The service is good too. Quick and keen to please, the friendly waiting staff introduce themselves so you feel as though you are getting to know them and their food and you're not just a passing customer. They have a wide range of knowledge about both the food and the wine list and it's worth asking them for recommendations from the lengthy list of choices of both white and red wine.
Although this restaurant obviously attracts couples for a romantic meal out, I noticed there were also large families with children and I can see why as Gaucho makes everyone feel welcome in its buzzing atmosphere.
Getting to the food, there's plenty of options for lunch and dinner, plus Gaucho does an Electro Brunch every Saturday between 11am and 4pm, which has a soundtrack of chilled out tunes. Over two hours, diners can feast themselves from the brunch menu that includes the Choripan sandwich, Gaucho Benedict and steak and eggs for £49.95 or £59.95 for the premium brunch.
I dined at Gaucho of an evening when there is a laid-back ambience amid the decadence. The menu has an option of two courses for £20 or three courses for £23.
There's a range of flavoursome starters that go beyond Argentina as there are dishes like an Ecuadorian ceviche alongside an empanada and baked provoleta, which is suitable for vegetarians as it's made with caramelised onions and aji molido and accompanied by sourdough toast.
Empanada - a spicy version of a pasty that translates from Spanish into "enbreaded" - comes in three choices, wrapped in the bread. There's beef, humita (made from fresh corn and onions) or sun-dried tomato and mozzarella. There's a salsa to dip it into.
The ceviche is the one that Gaucho has become synonymous with. It's cold and fresh with lemon and the spicy tomato sauce providing a perfect companion to the shrimp and avocado. I found it a very refreshing way to start the meal.
Moving on to the main event, the steaks come perfectly cooked and are of the highest quality. There's plenty of options too, even in the set menu, but there is also the a la carte if you want something more tailored to your tastes.
The friendly waiting staff are only too keen to explain the options so don't be afraid to ask. There's the cuadril, a 225g slice of rump, which is also the leanest cut. There's also the chorizo at 225g - a sirloin that is tender and comes with a strip of juicy crackling. I plumped for this and wasn't disappointed.
Meanwhile, the lomo is also a 225g cut of beef that has a £6 supplement. It's the next step up as it's a lean fillet and has a delicate flavour. The ancho is a ribeye steak at 300g that also has a £6 supplement. This is delicately marbled throughout to give a superb, full-bodied flavour.
This restaurant prides itself on its steaks so whichever you choose, you are bound to get succulent, tender meat that melts in your mouth. They all come served with chips or rocket and kale salad too, and there's also a choice of sauce including peppercorn, mushroom, béarnaise, blue cheese hollandaise or red wine jus.
If you aren't a big steak fan, don't worry as there are other options from a half spatchcock chicken to a poached salmon salad; although the vegetarian choices are more sparse.
It's worth saving room for dessert too as there's some classy fine temptations. On the set menu, the cinnamon churros come with a dolche du leche sauce, while the lemon tart is deliciously sharp on the tongue with sweet toasted Italian meringue on top. For a more refined dessert, you could opt for the affogato, which is an espresso coffee with a dollop of dulce de leche ice cream in it and shortbread crumble to finish.
There's something very satisfying about dining at Gaucho. It's a combination of the fine surroundings, the knowledgeable staff and the excellent menu that has flourishes of South America throughout and a passion for steaks and wine. It's the perfect recipe for great food and ambience.