27th May 2016 7pm
We visited Gusto at the request of my sister and her boyfriend. I hadn’t been for a few years so was looking forward to it. Upon arrival we were taken up to the mezzanine level. The restaurant was quite busy but not in an off putting way. Gusto has a classy, plush feel to it and you could easily not realise it was part of a chain. After having a look at the menu, we decided to go for nibbles instead of starters, so went for some olives, garlic dough petals and some hummus. Then for mains I opted for the venison special, my sister went for spaghetti carbonara and her boyfriend, a veggie, went for the sweet and sour aubergine steak. My sister and I also had a strawberry and vanilla martini, which flavour reminded me of a mivvi ice lolly I used to have as a child (that’s a good thing).
The nibbles came and the hummus in particular was very generous. The accompanying flatbread was quite large and the crudités were chunky. The garlic dough petals were lovely and had a wonderful rosemary flavour running through them (although my sister did find it a little overpowering for her palate). It was a shame that the accompanying butter was quite hard. A little warming so the petals could almost be dunked in it would have been good. The olives were excellent and of high quality.
Onto the mains. My venison was absolutely delicious. It came pink as requested and sat intermingled with mushrooms and caramelised onions. A beautiful sauce was poured over the top, which complemented it well. However, I have one slight issue with this and it was price. Whilst I didn’t ask the price of the special and I knew it wouldn’t be cheap, I was stunned to see that it was just shy of £28 when the bill arrived. I had no additional sides. To give you some perspective, venison at Wedgewood (which features in the Michelin guide) is only £23.50. Even Gusto’s own medallion of beef fillet only comes to £22.95. This venison was definitely overpriced even if it tasted good. Anyway, onto the spaghetti carbonara. My sister thought it tasted good but she’s have liked it to have more sauce. I think that it was served traditionally with just enough sauce to coat the pasta which she’s not used to. As for the sweet and sour aubergine steak, it got a thumbs up and was a decent sized portion. The polenta chips looked so good even I would have tried them over a normal chip.
We skipped dessert and paid the bill. Gusto does nice food but I would be avoiding the specials in future.
Food – 8/10
Service – 9/10
Atmosphere – 8/10
Value – 6/10
Overall – 31/40
Would I eat here again? Maybe
Cost £86 for 3 x nibbles and main courses, two cocktails, a large bottle of still water and a lemonade.