Elegant, spacious and airy


What you need to know:

  • Recipe. Gaucho grill has been expanded to cater to private diners, writes A Kadumukasa Kironde II.

Around half a million years ago, history tells us that the world  witnessed an incredible revolution in the form of an ape-like creature that was destined to become man while in the same breath became the first known animal to actually prepare its dinner.

In many ways the evolution and usage of fire by Homo erectus circa 500,000 BC resulted in nothing less than the advent of civilisation. Interestingly, anthropologists are in disagreement whether or not the primitive act of roasting meat over fire eventually led to art, language, religion and a host of complex social organisation. Personally, I am of the school of thought that postulates that grilling begat civilisation.

What will forever remain a conundrum is how our forebears learned to grill. One could very well speculate that the first barbecue was due to forest fire that resulted in bison, venison and other game on the hoof in a natural conflagration. Could it be that haunch of meat fell into a campfire?

Maybe lightning struck a tree and transformed into charcoal; the definitive truth shall never be known. Regardless, archeological evidence suggests that by 125,000 BC man was using live fire to cook his meat and to help him extract from the bones a morsel particularly prized in prehistoric times viz. bone marrow!

The following millennia brought about numerous refinements to the art of cooking ranging from the invention of pottery and pots to the bread machine, the Chinese steamer, the microwave and last but not least the air fryer. Having said that, when it comes to bringing out the primal flavour of food, nothing can beat the grilling over a live fire.

Grilling is the oldest and most widespread and most forgiving method of cooking known to man. Over time, there have been numerous refinements to the process of cooking food over fire viz from grills and grates to rotisseries and turnspits to gas grills and infrared burners. With these refinements they have allowed us to cook an ever wider repertory of ingredients on the grill. Regardless, the basic principles remain constant, as does the primal pleasure of fire-cooked food.

The expansion project 
Ugandans from all walks of life love chicken, pork and goat muchomo though more often than not the dining setting leaves a lot to be desired. 

Going onto a decade, Jimmy Habumugisha came up with the idea of Gaucho Grill in Bwebajja with a view to specialising in a variety of grilled meats, fowl and fish of all types. Mindful of the need for discerning customers who were willing to pay for comfort and good grills, without a doubt he has succeeded in carving out a niche.

Business is brisk and upbeat, and as we discovered much to Habumugisha’s credit, he has expanded the place and created more space upstairs where one dines assured of maximum privacy, whether by design or choice; as well as solitude. The music is played downstairs, allowing one a choice of preference. The new wing is elegant, spacious and airy as well as comfortable and is also suitable for private functions.

No visit to Gaucho Grill would be complete without checking out the much acclaimed Rodizio which offers a bounty of char grilled meats and fish on a rotisserie in an all that you can eat affair. First to be served was the fish followed by chicken drumsticks that were marinated in beer and spices and then along came the cuts of beef rump steak and the garlic beef cubes. There was also an outstanding leg of goat meat that was ever so tender and succulent. Seldom does one encounter crocodile meat in Uganda, a favorite and delicacy of mine, and one that I must feature in my diet more often.

Crocodile meat has the texture that is similar to large fish. The meat is segmented and easily divisible when cooked. In terms of flavour, the type that are reared in captivity in a crocodile farm have a tendency to taste like chicken. The reason for this phenomenon is due to the animal being fed with chicken. Naturally, there was also pork and other cuts of beef but what left a great impression on us was the rabbit meat. I am sure that in a blind tasting, few would be able to discern rabbit from chicken. The grills are served with a choice of salad, potato wedges or vegetable rice and sauce. We must give credit to the young Ugandan woman who is in situ in the kitchen as the executive chef Linda Nakimuli. Kudos to her for doing a sterling job and making sure that the kitchen runs smoothly and standards are well-maintained.

Not surprisingly, the popular dessert of choice was the freshly grilled whole pineapple with cinnamon and sugar. The whole pineapple is coated in a mixture of brown sugar and cinnamon and then grilled to delicious and juicy perfection. This particular dessert is a Brazilian steakhouse favour...

The deal 

Place: Gaucho Grill
Address: Bwebajja, Entebbe Road
Smoke-free zone: Strictly observed
Recommended items: Rodizio is a favourite and well-priced.
Service: Professional
Ambience: Good
Open: Daily for lunch and supper
Our rating: Not to be missed
Menu: Besides the Rodizio they have such delicacies as guacamole with tortilla chips, smoked salmon and avocado, chicken Mexican salad, sizzling chicken or beef, etc. Wood fired pizzas.
The space: Semi alfresco, informal and cozy including a newly created upstairs for private dining.
The crowd: Middle class Ugandans and expats
The bar: Good wine, beer, spirits, soda and juice
The damage: The Rodizio is an all that you can eat treat that is priced at Shs 80,000.
Sound level: Downstairs has nice background music featuring old school tunes
Parking: Available and very secure
If you go: Daily
Ratings: These ratings are purely the reviewer’s personal reaction to food, ambience and service with price being factored into consideration. The menu listings and prices are subject to change without notice.