First Day Review: Gauchos BBQ and Grill

Gauchos BBQ and Grill on South Avenue West finally opened yesterday. I started to write about Gauchos about two month ago when I realized that some work was getting done at the location of the former Taxco Grill. At one point I speculated that Gauchos would be opening by the end of June. And I was looking forward to it. With the demise of Samba Grill (at the location where we currently have Cosi) several years ago, there was a void of BBQ restaurants in Westfield. So I felt good that one was coming that is not a chain.

Now end of July Gauchos opened after a few delays and we certainly had to check it out the day of the opening. They didn't do any marketing or announcements to avoid being overrun and to sort out the initial kinks first.
We went for dinner at around 8:00 PM and there were a few other guests dining both in the dining room and at the side walk tables. The first issue was that the air condition didn't work well so it was a bit hot inside. With the temperatures outside being OK and the humidity bearable we decided to sit outside.
Service is very friendly, attentive, pro-active and trying very hard to accommodate the customer's desires. It was not always efficient but for first day operations it was remarkably good. Because of the heat we decided not to go for the full all-you-can-eat Rodizio but rather have individual BBQ dishes. These are the same meats as the Rodizio (i.e. they come from the skewer), however it is just one particular meat and not the all-you-can-eat feature. These BBQ menu items come with beans, fries, rice and salad bar. Considering this, they are actually very reasonably priced. E.g. the Brazilian Sausage BBQ plate that I ordered is $10.95. My wife ordered the pork ribs which were only slightly higher.
Our order was taken and after we made our way to the salad bar it turned out that they were out of both meats. I guess they had underestimated the amount of first day patronage. The owner came out himself and apologized and helped us to find alternative options. My wife had the Rodizio sampler, for $10 you get samples of some of the different Rodizio meats they have with rice and fries. Also not a bad deal. I had the Onion Steak which also comes with fries, rice and beans. The meat was actually pretty good but done quite a bit more than medium which is what I ordered. OK, let's say this was another day one kink.
With both our alternative selections the salad bar was now not included but we already had it. No questions asked we were not charged for it.
The salad bar is fairly small but good quality and fresh. In addition to greens and vegetables there were three pretty good prepared salads: pasta, potato and vegetable/tuna.
For dessert we had the flan. Very well done and for $4.50 almost a steal. Gauchos manages to captured the essence of flan quite well. The taste is full bodied but not overwhelming, the texture is smooth and firm but neither too creamy nor too heavy. It comes with a chocolate sauce that is not poured on the flan but around it. So if you don't like the sauce (like my wife) you can just eat the flan.
When talking to the owner (who clearly likes to talk to his guests) it is very apparent that he sees his restaurant as more than just a business. We certainly felt very welcome as customers and guests.

In summary, for a first day operations quite impressive. If they can retain their very customer oriented attitude, maintain or even increase the high food quality and iron out some of the logistical and food preparation kinks, this could become one of my favorite restaurants in Westfield. This would be pretty cool, as from where we live this is the closest restaurant to walk to. Not to mentioned outside seating and BYOB.

We were also told that there will be live music every other Friday, so that would be next Friday and "Grand Opening" is targeted for Saturday next week (2007-08-04). If our schedules work out, we will be back next Friday.

Siging Off - The Westfield Blogger

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