We were off into town on a Tuesday night to check out Gusto on George Street’s new menu and it felt a bit naughty!   We decided to take the bus as we heard Gusto’s cocktails were delicious, so planned to make a night of it.   It’s been a few years since we last visited Gusto so we were looking forward to our visit.
On arrival, Gusto dazzles with it’s fairy light clad window and glitzy interior.   Our table was on the mezzanine level overlooking the Pizza and dessert preparation area with views over the whole restaurant.  One wall is covered in Black and white pictures and the lighting is subdued with lots of candles adding to the welcoming atmosphere.
The one thing that struck us was how busy it was for a Tuesday evening.  The restaurant was packed which really added to the ambiance with a hustle and bustle of staff dashing back and forth.  Not only did we get a good view of the kitchen but we also had lots of wonderful smells rising to our eyrie – we couldn’t wait to see the menus.
We ordered a couple of cocktails while perusing the menus – a recommended Redcurrant Mai Thai (£8.50) and a Grape and Cherry Spritz (£7.50).  The Mai Thai was a delicious blend of redcurrants, Bacardi 8yo and Cointreau crushed with lime and almond syrup, and the Grape and Cherry Spritz was fresh grapes, cherry preserve, Ketel one and Lemon, topped with Prosecco resulting in a light refreshingly crisp summer cocktail(!!)
The menu is extensive and has lots on offer – perfect for group dining where most folks wishes and budgets can be accommodated.  Fancier dishes such as Whole Lobster Americaine (£42.50) and Six Bone Rack of Lamb (£29.75) appear on the specials menu.
I decided to go for the Houmous served with stone baked flat bread, pesto and crudities (£5.25), whilst Raymond chose Bruschetta with sweet pepper compote and goats cheese (£4.95).
I was expecting a small starter but the flat bread was huge.  We managed to finish it off though (except the celery) as the houmous was delicious.  I would have preferred the flat bread to have been cooked for probably 30 seconds longer so that it started to get crisp round the edges,but I chose well and it was a great start to the meal.
Being a lover of goat’s cheese, Raymond enjoyed the bruschetta and found the sweet pepper flavours really complimented the goats cheese without overpowering it.  The bruschetta was lovely and crisp and a great mix of textures.
We decided to order a bottle of wine to enjoy with the rest of our meal, and there’s an extensive wine list on the back of the menu.  The wines are split into the different regions of Italy with a map to highlight so you also get a free geography lesson thrown in!
We chose a red from the Central area Abruzzo Italy – Feudi d’albe Montepulciano. (£19.95)
I chose a 10oz Rib Eye Steak (£16.95) cooked medium with truffle butter and sautéed wild mushrooms with red wine sauce on the side and Raymond went for Gnocchi with slow roast chilli pork, cherry tomatoes, pesto and rocket.(£9.95)  I had a side of fries with mine – (£3.25)
The steak was well cooked, and the wild mushrooms scattered round the plate added to the flavour.  The truffle butter was very subtle and I wouldn’t have said no to it being slightly stronger, but there’s a fine balance with truffle.  For once there was also no shortage of chips.  When you ask for a side of chips here you get a big bowl of chips – excellent value for money.  The number of times you order steak in other restaurants and a wee decorative frying basket arrives with 5 or 6 chips in it – not here.
Overall I felt that the steak was good value for money and pretty consistent with the price other establishments charge.  Raymond’s Gnocchi was comfort food Italian style and he thoroughly enjoyed all of the delicious flavours presented on the plate.  The house salad added an extra crunch and stopped the dish from becoming overly stodgy and meant dessert was definitely a possibility.
Sitting upstairs overlooking the kitchen we had insider information about the desserts.  It was fascinating watching the chef make the Nutella and mascarpone calzone with vanilla ice cream (£5.95).  I love Nutella so that was high on our list and judging by the number he made when we were sitting there it’s a popular choice.  The chocolate fondue for two (£10.95) also looked amazing and it too made it to the top of our list.   It was the Flaming Baked Alaska (£7.50) that won it for us with memories of my grans Baked Alaska swimming around in my brain – hopefully we wouldn’t be disappointed.
The Baked Alaska was presented with a flourish then set aflame at the table allowing the meringue to  brown nicely. The ice cream inside remained solid whilst the meringue was still soft but starting to caramelise around the edges and the boozy sour cherries round the outside finished it off perfectly.  We have a sweet tooth so this dish was heaven for us!
The great news is that we still have 2 other desserts we want to try so next time no sharing!
We decided to finish off the meal with 2 Americano coffees that arrived absolutely scorching hot. The mugs were unbelievably hot so the coffee didn’t cool down at all.  This was the only negative of the whole evening so we would really encourage Gusto to review their coffee making procedure.  Italians are famous for their coffee so you would expect an absolutely perfect cup of coffee.
All in all we really enjoyed our night at Gusto.  It copes well with larger tables and more intimate tables for 2.  Service from Karolina was excellent and we wouldn’t hesitate to go back or to recommend to friends.
With thanks to Gusto for providing the food.  All drinks were paid for by us and all views, thoughts and reflections are ours.
135 George Street
TEL: 0131 225 2555
Twitter: @gustoedinburgh


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