Gusto, Edinburgh

Our trip to Gusto was yet another occasion where I was wishing I had a proper camera and not just my phone! I’m sad to say my pictures do not these delicious dishes justice, thus I will just have to be as descriptive as possible.

Having attended the Perrier-Jouet tasting dinner at Gusto on George Street in Edinburgh, when I was asked to review the new menu, it was an easy yes. Gusto is a chain of Italian inspired restaurants you can find in many of the big cities up and down the country. To be specific, the restaurants are “inspired by the traditional grand cafes of Europe, Gusto is all about making the everyday exquisite.” It’s suppose to be ‘everyday decadence’… that’s something I can get on board with.

Edinburgh’s Gusto is located at the Charlotte Square end of George Street. The set up downstairs is a mix of round booths and high bar stool tables. We were taken upstairs to the mezzanine level and sat at a table overlooking the restaurant – a great spot for watching everyone coming and going, for there is a lot of that with it being a fairly large dining space.

Our waiter, very friendly and polite, was straight over with the wine list and menus. Being mid-flat move, Mr. F&P was on the sparkling water as unfortunately we had chores to complete that evening, however I opted for a glass of Novita Trebbiano, correctly described as ‘wonderfully easy drinking’.

I love when waiters or waitresses recommend dishes from the menu, so when I ordered the calamari and our waiter suggested the Fritto Misto instead, it was a no brainer to change my order. What was thinking just going for calamari when I could have with sardine, prawn, calamari, and courgette as well?! I made the right decision. The batter was so incredibly light and nicely peppered, and spiced tomato mayonnaise reminded me of a dip that is served at The Outback in America when you order their famous ‘Bloomin’ Onion’. A joy of a dish to start the evening off.

Fritto Misto

Fritto Misto close up

Fritto Misto sauce

Mr F&P tucked into salmon tartare which was served with a soft boiled quails egg (inside the salmon tower – a fun touch) and some crème fraîche and red gazpacho. Another delicious, and very pretty looking, plate of food. 

salmon tartar

salmon tartar plate

And that’s the quails egg, right there in the middle.

quails egg

For my main I ordered the 6oz chargrilled fillet steak, medium, which came with garlic butter, roasted vine tomatoes and fries. The steak was cooked exactly to my liking. What can you say about garlic butter, other than it’s totally delicious, by far by steak sauce of choice. I’m not convinced the chargrilling added much, however certainly it didn’t detract from a very flavoursome, juicy piece of meat. The ‘vine tomatoes’ were just one large vine tomato, but no problem with that, and the fries were lovely and crispy. No need for the dish.

fillet steak plate

steak medium

steak close up

I was less convinced by the pasta dish – white crab, chilli, garlic and fresh lemon spaghetti. Perhaps we eat too much pasta at home and I don’t appreciate it as much when I go out. I also find it fairly easy to make a damn good pasta dish at home, thus when I go out I really expect to be wowed. That said, the spaghetti was fresh, the lemon sauce coated the spaghetti well, not too much, not too little. Just not a patch on my steak, but perhaps I am trying to compare apples and pears.

crab spaghetti

A little break as we surveyed the dessert menu. This is where I struggled… I am fairly confident I would have enjoyed absolutely every dessert listed. This is a dessert menu for chocolate lovers.

dessert menu

I was torn between the nutella and mascarpone calzone and the ‘bombolini’; homemade mini doughnuts with whipped cream and chocolate sauce. Thinking I may not have room for something that called itself a ‘calzone’ I chose the mini doughnuts and was rewarded with a really simple, but yummy, dessert. Bizarrely light for pudding of doughnuts, the chocolate sauce had an edge to it which I’m putting down to some sort of liqueur. Again, too many dishes on the plate for my liking, or perhaps a different shape of under plate would work better.

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The star menu was the ‘Baked Flaming Alaska’, served and lit at the table, it glowed purple for a good 30-40 seconds. As you might have guessed by the quails egg inside the salmon tower, I’m fairly easy amused and I thoroughly enjoyed the dramatics.

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On a side note, Baked Alaska is a dessert that never ceases to amazing me, just the science behind it, how does the ice cream stay cold? But let’s not get into that just now…

With the departure of The Living Room from George Street, Gusto will be a good staple haunt for large groups – plenty space and something for everyone on the menu. What I liked most about Gusto is that it did not feel too much like a chain. I’ve yet to visit the one newly opened in Glasgow, but my overall feeling is they take on the character of the buildings they live in, hopefully making each one a tiny bit different.

Make a trip, I promise your dishes will be look more spectacular than the ones captured in this post, and I hope they are just as tasty. For now I’ll weigh up the cost of a new camera and think some more about baked Alaska.

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The Magnum, Edinburgh

Magnum foodYou don’t need to search for long to come across good quality pub food in Edinburgh, and The Magnum on Albany Street has just been added to my list. Other than enjoying a summer drink a few years ago, I’ll be honest and say it has not, to date, been somewhere that’s featured on my food and drink radar. Partly because I am not local to that area of town, but also because I was not really aware of food offering. My dining partner Fordie was in the same boat.

The Magnum is split into three sections, the bar occupying two of those spaces and a third, smaller restaurant section off to the right. We were surprised to find the dining area kitted out with heavy silver cutlery and white table cloths. Despite sitting in the somewhat fancier dining area, we chose to eat from the bar menu because the burgers just looked too good to say no to! I can’t comment on the a la carte menu, but I can say the plates on offer, such as the wild guinea fowl , sounded impressive.

When Fordie and I first met we discovered a mutual love for cheese boards, and over the years we have sat and enjoyed plenty cheese and wine whilst putting the world to rights. Seeing no reason to break a delightful habit, we ordered a bottle of pinot grigio and we tucked into a baked camembert with bread and a little pot of what tasted like cranberry jam to start. It is not a dish that can be done badly, as there’s really nothing to it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not extremely tasty and quite indulgent.Baked Camembert Cheesecamembert

We both chose burgers for our main course. I went for a beef and rosemary burger, topped with cheese, crispy, streaky bacon and a lovely bbq sauce. The chips were chunky and crunchy, and the homemade slaw had a nice tang to it. Fordie’s chicken and bacon burger came in a toasted foccacia bun with a sweet chilli sauce. I think the pictures speak for themselves…

Beef and Rosemary Burger
beef and rosemary burger

close up

chicken and bacon burger
chicken and bacon burger

chicken burger close up

After such a feast we couldn’t manage any dessert, so I’ll just need to go back for that 🙂

The staff were so friendly and welcoming, and the clientèle was a real mix of post work drinkers, couples and friends enjoying the bar menu and families dining out in the restaurant area. Thanks to the location on the corner of Dublin St and Albany Street, the seats outside The Magnum will be a lovely sun-trap in the summer months.

Although this time we opted for the relaxed bar menu, I am now keen to try the more sophisticated a la carte menu. In my eyes, if you can do a good burger… I’m all yours!

The Magnum
1 Albany Street
Edinburgh
EH1 3PY,
0131 557 4366

The Stockbridge Restaurant, Edinburgh

The Stockbridge Restaurant is one of the many eateries nestled away on St Stephens Street in Edinburgh. Not far from the new Scran & Scallie, across the street from Purslane, this family run restaurant certainly has competition. I should mention that St Stephens Street used to be home to one of my favourite restaurants in Edinburgh, The Saint. That space is now home to a great cocktail bar called The Last Word, but there remains a food shaped hole in my heart when it comes to eating out in Stockbridge. For this reason I was very intrigued to see what The Stockbridge Restaurant had to offer.

Interior

Fairy lights guide you down the stone stairs and into a cute and cosy restaurant. The welcome from the waiting staff is very friendly and on a Thursday evening my dining partner Cakes (a nickname I will explain sometime) and I are told we can choose any table we fancy. The room is intimate, with perhaps 12 or so white covered table tops, substantial covered chairs and chunky, heavy silverware. Immediately I think we are in for a fine dining experience.

Before we get started on our menu choices we enjoy an assortment of warm breads, walnut bread being the one that stuck out for me. The breads are served with a lovely herby dip – I am keen to find out what’s in that. Then appetisers arrived – little dishes with fresh tomato & Serrano ham, nothing complicated and very delicious

Breads

Tomato and serrano ham

To start I enjoyed pigeon with pork belly, black pudding, celeriac puree and port wine sauce. The pigeon was tender and the cubes of black pudding were moist and there was just enough. The little rectangle of crispy, perfectly pressed pork belly was a joy! Cakes tucked into the crab cakes which were packed full of crab meat and flavour. They came with a fresh, zingy tomato salsa and avocado puree.

Spiced pigeon breast, black pudding, pork belly, celeriac mash
Pigeon with pork belly, black pudding, celeriac puree and port wine sauce

close up of main

crab cakes
Crab cakes with tomato salsa, avocado puree and aioli

At this point we paused; topped up our wine glasses (we were drinking a Sauvignon Blanc from Chile) and both admitted to really looking forward to the main course.

Coley was our unanimous choice. On the menu said it “served with pancetta, a fried quail egg, sautéed potatoes and a mustard sauce”. I was pleasantly surprised to find a whole crispy strip of bacon with the dish! The fish was light and full of moisture, the fried egg had yummy, runny yolk and the mustard sauce went well with the saltiness of the dish.

Coley
Coley

close up 2

Following the main, a passionate fruit sorbet was served as a palette cleanser, and for me chocolate heaven followed. Chocolate crème brulee served with milk chocolate ice cream, a chocolate and walnut brownie and white chocolate mousse. I could take or leave the milk chocolate ice cream, the crème brulee was good. Put simply, it tasted like melted terry’s chocolate orange, I could have had 5 shot glasses of the stuff. However we both decided that Cakes’ dessert was the star of the show – banana tarte tartin with a butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice cream. Not a dish I had tried before, and one I am desperate to have again. The pastry was so light and fluffy it melted in the mouth and the caramelised bananas were sweet and tangy. Oh and the sauce, the sauce was to die for!

Chocolate
Crème brulee served with milk chocolate ice cream, a chocolate and walnut brownie and white chocolate mousse
banana
Banana tarte tartin with a butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice cream

Banana tarte tartin

Needless to say we rolled home happy and full. The food alone was fantastic, and the attention to detail along with the little extra touches made the evening very special, but in no way pretentious. What’s more, the prices for such a delightful dining experience are incredible. The set menu, which includes all of the above minus the banana dessert, runs Sunday – Thursday and is only 2 courses for £19.95 or 3 courses for £23.95. You can read the A La Carte menu here – I think it’s worth every penny.

It makes me slightly sad to think I have lived in Edinburgh for almost five years and I am only just finding out about this hidden gem… but I am delighted to say the food shaped hole in my heart has officially been filled. Roll on another dinner out in Stockibridge!