An evening with Gusto, Manchester
Three weeks ago I was lucky enough to be invited to an evening at Gusto in the city centre of Manchester to try out a new menu. I’d never been in that particular Gusto before; for those in the same boat, it is a beautiful grade II listed building with tall ceilings and a classic 1920s feel. Our authentic Italian evening was to take place in their Private Dining Room which hosted around 12 of us.
I was (as always) the first to arrive, and was escorted to the Dining Room which homed a decadent square table set for the party to arrive. Greeted by our host Anotonia, I was handed a Brockman’s Aviation which was a concoction of Brockman’s gin, parma violet liquor and lemon juice, decorated with a violet on top – very sophisticated! The other guests arrived and the evening began.
To start we were served a consommé which was served with red peppers, french beans, basil, and a mini brioche on the side. Now I got too excited and forgot to take a picture of this (whoops!) however it’s clearness allowed you to see the magnificent colours of the garnish. On closing your eyes it had a taste of gazpacho with the fresh taste of tomato and after taste of red peppers. This would work well as a cleansing dish or appertiser, and possibly not as a starter. Then again I may just be being greedy!
Cornish crab salad
Then came the crab, served with a tiny dollop of saffron mayonnaise, fresh grated apple on sourdough bread. I’m a huge seafood fan so this was right up my street. If I was to be honest the mayonnaise was more of an aioli, which I loved, but it did deter a little away from the wonderful fresh seaside taste of the crab. The grated apple worked really well to provide that crisp taste, alongside the toasted triangles of sourdough.
Prosecco spumante la Cavea
To sit alongside to two starter dishes, we were given Gustos house prosecco. Being a massive fan of prosecco this was ideal for me – this particular bubbly gave hints of green apple and pear.
Then came the pasta courses.
Chicken liver tortellini
Sat in an oxtail broth, which really enhanced the ‘pate’ aftertaste, were three beautifully shaped tortellinis – which were deliciously rich. There wasn’t much colour to this dish, but it was a hit with all the guests commenting on it’s delightful taste. This sat well as a pasta dish, as it wasn’t presented in how we typically receive pasta dishes in the UK, this was true Italian size – which I appreciated.
Straight away when I heard nero, I knew to expect squid ink. As scary as ink sounds Gusto truly nailed it! I’ve been to restaurants before when this element has been over done, and ended up turning people’s lips black – this was not the case here. Everyone loved this dish, the garlic and the heat worked beautiful with the meaty taste of the kings scallops. This was probably my favourite for the pasta dishes.
Pinto Gregio, Ponte del Diavolo
With the pasta course we were given a gorgeous pinto gregio which produced tastes of peach and sherbet.
This tuna was the best dish of the evening. It’s not very often you get the opportunity of tuna on the menu, and this was cooked beautifully; the lemon and pepper crust worked wonderfully to add some extra texture to the dish. The fish sat on top of a bed of caponata, which is a Sicilian aubergine dish of cooked vegetables. Decorated with pea shoots and yellow flowers, this dish was ideal for a warm summer evening. I could have eaten it over and over again it was that perfect!
Pan fried loin of venison
Accompanied with blackcurrant and apple sauce. This dish smelled absolutely incredible! Venison isn’t something I would usually pick from a menu, nevertheless this was a good piece of meat. The sauce was a little sour for my preference, something a little sweeter like a cranberry would have made this dish for me personally. However, still delicious and well presented.
So as you can tell by this poor description above, the alcohol may of taken its toll by this point…(!) Not usually a fan of red, but this wine sat brilliantly with the tuna.
Now you’re talking! Absolutely loved these martinis, and also the fact they were not overwhelming in their size. They were simply delicious; the perfect after dinner drink.
Selection of Gusto desserts
A panna cotta, a tiramisu and chocolate mousse were our finishers for the evening – and a trio of triumph they were! The winner though in my eyes was the tiramisu. In an ideal world this creamy coffee deliciousness would be served alongside the espresso martini we had prior to this course – it would be pure coffee heaven. The tiramisu was light and not too strong, which is how I like this classic Italian dessert to be made.
In conclusion I had a fantastic evening with Gusto. The team gave their full attention to our needs, which meant the group could focus on socialising and trying all the delicious food. A massive thank you to team Gusto for the most wonderful time – a great way to spend a Wednesday evening in Manchester!