Review – Gusto

When news came about that Grill On The Corner’s sister restaurant Gusto was opening in Glasgow, I have to admit, it didn’t excite me in the slightest. This was primarily due to another chain coming to Glasgow, which we’ve seen enough of in the past year! I was asked to go for dinner to review the restaurant a few days after it opened & figured I’d go & see if they could open my eyes.

Whilst Grill On The Corner is all about the steak, Gusto focusses on Italian dishes, with a wide range of pizza & pasta dishes on offer. First glance at the menu & I was pleasantly surprised at the wide range of healthier options in the form of salads & fish dishes. This was music to my ears as I’m currently watching what I eat, even though I’d kill for a big pizza most days!!

I really enjoyed the decor of the restaurant, with its large globe lights & crackled effect walls. It gave the restaurant a 1920s feel to it, without trying hard. This was further enhanced with the water jug & candle holders on the table. The staff were all dressed immaculately in black waistcoats & ties. This gave the restaurant a high end feel to it but the atmosphere is anything but pretentious like you may expect. Instead, the waiting staff are all happy to chat away to you & ensure you’re having a good time.

decor

For starter, I could not resist ordering the salmon tartare whilst A opted for the deep fried salt cod ravioli (which I had my eye on as well). The salmon tartare was neatly stacked, with a quails egg & creme fraiche accompanying it. The creme fraiche went really well with it, adding a bit of moisture to it. In all honesty, I didn’t know why the quails egg was on the dish. It didn’t add anything to it & it feels like it was just there to pad out the dish, which was required as the salmon was so fresh. With every mouthful, I wanted more. I could have easily eaten another portion of it, it was that good! I tried a bit of the salt cod ravioli & it was crispy on the outside with flaky cod on the inside. A commented that there wasn’t much of a salty taste to it which was expected given the dish’s description.

starter

After looking at the menu, I had my heart set of the seared tuna steak for dinner. It’s a dish I really enjoy & just can’t get it right at home so wasn’t going to turn down an opportunity to have it made properly. However, as it was ordered, the waitress informed me that it had disappeared from her tablet screen, indicating that the last one had been ordered. Although I was really impressed at the technology they were using, I couldn’t help but be disappointed that the tuna wasn’t available. On the waitress’ recommendation I opted for the salt baked seabass instead.

fish

When the mains came, the seabass was a spectacle. It arrived in a large platter, absolutely covered in salt & was prepped by the waiter before being placed on my dish. I chose to have a side of green beans & shallots with my fish. The fish itself was cooked perfectly, with slightly crispy skin & tender, flaky flesh. As the waiter scrapes off most of the salt, there wasn’t much left on the fish at all. The side dish was also a hit, with buttery crunchy green beans & soft grilled shallots. Very moreish! The pasta dish that A ordered I wasn’t too keen on after a taste. It was tagiatelle with prawn & garlic in a sweet chilli tomato sauce. For me, the sauce was too sweet giving it an almost chinese takeaway type taste to it. A, however, enjoyed it, commenting that the only issue for him was that the pasta was a bit soft.

pasta

Gusto’s dessert menu is one of the few that I could actually pick quite a few dishes off it. I think I must be getting a sweet tooth in my old age! The highlight being the nutella & marscapone calzone – who could resist that?! Unfortunately, I had to due to watching what I’m eating. Instead, I chose the strawberry & passion fruit mess whilst A went for the sticky toffee pudding. Alas, it was not to be as I was informed by the waitress that the fruit mess was not available. It was the third strike for us as one of the house beers wasn’t available when A tried to order it. It was quite disappointing given the restaurant had only been open a few days & it’s a chain so they should know what to expect. Either way it was probably a blessing in disguise for me as I was actually quite stuffed from what I had eaten! Naturally I stole a bite of the sticky toffee pudding. The sponge was melt in the mouth soft, with a sweet toffee sauce. I was surprised A didn’t lick the plate in the end!

pudding

Although it was clear that there were some teething problems with Gusto, it did not detract the fact that the dishes we’d eaten had been of a high standard & really delicious. Having seen other diners eating the pizzas, I know we’ll definitely be back so I can have one! Given the recent influx of burger & steak oriented restaurants in Glasgow, it’s nice to have a breath of fresh air being introduced into the Glasgow restaurant scene.

Disclaimer: We were given this meal for free & all views are of my own with no influence from the restaurant or their PR company. The PR company has also asked me to share the restaurant’s twitter account, which you can access at @gustoglasgow

 

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Review: Porter & Rye

Steak has been taken to another level in Glasgow thanks to the introduction of Finnieston’s newest restaurant, Porter & Rye. It’s owned by the same people who own Finnieston favourites Lebowski’s & The Finnieston, with the aim of bringing together good quality aged beef & molecular cooking (how very Heston!).

Ever since Porter & Rye opened in December, I had been pining to visit & the perfect opportunity came up to go for dinner on Valentine’s day. The interior of the restaurant has a homely yet modern feel to it with stripped back brick walls & a sleek metallic style bar with open kitchen at the back of the restaurant. The seating is spread out with a few booths & bar types seats on the ground floor & a split mezzanine with booths to the back & table to the front. We were fortunate to be seated in the upper booth area which was cosy with dimmed lighting. It was also seated directly above the kitchen so I could sneak peeks at goings on downstairs.

rest

When I say steak has been taken to another level, this is evident when you’re seated. Our waitress had a blackboard with each type of steak, which cut of meat & the price. On the night, there was 30 day aged Galloway & 28 day aged Aberdeen Angus to choose from. I found out after our meal from John, the head chef of the group, that from pictures provided by their butcher, individual cows are picked by the restaurant for their meat to ensure they are getting the best quality!

We opted to order some drinks whilst deciding & I’ll admit that I hardly recognised any of the ingredients on the cocktail menu. That didn’t stop me & I ordered a tequila based cocktail that came with blue cheese stuffed olives that arrived with the biggest block of ice I’d ever seen! Normally that would put me off but on the first sip, it was evident that the focus here was on the alcohol & not masking the taste with fruity or sugary flavours! Not that I’m complaining!

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Our starters were chosen from the small plates section & we opted for beef carpaccio & smoked mackerel pate. I know, a beef starter when we’re about to have a steak but I couldn’t resist. This was the first evidence of the molecular cooking as the carpaccio arrived with a domed cover filled with smoke that evaporated once uncovered. Despite this, I could still taste the smokiness with each bite of the carpaccio. The smoked mackerel pate had a similar smokiness to it, hinting that it was smoked in-house to give it a subtle taste. The pate also came with 8 oatcakes which couldn’t be finished as we had to keep space for the main! We also received some of the oysters that were on special that weekend with compliments of the chef. These were covered with an apple foams with tiny bits of diced apples, seated in a crate on a bed of seaweed which our waitress made smoke with some liquid poured over it. These were divine – very fresh & tangy from the apple & a nice change from the usual oysters au natural.

starter

The main event was to die for! We opted for a chateaubriand medium rare which came with 2 sides & 2 sauces. It was difficult to choose only 2 sides but we narrowed it down to broccoli & marrow bone mac & cheese which I had heard good things about. Before your steak arrives, you are presented with a selection of steak knives & allowed to choose which one you prefer! The steak was beautiful – perfectly cooked, melt in the mouth & full of flavour. I honestly could have eaten the whole thing to myself it was that good! I’m normally a fast eater but I took my time with this as I wanted to savour every mouthful.

beef

Our sides were also fantastic. Although we had tenderstem broccoli as they had run out of purple sprouting, it was crunchy yet slightly buttery & salty – a far cry from my usual plain old boiled broccoli I make at home! And the mac & cheese, what can I say? I’d never been sure about trying bone marrow but the small cubes that were mixed with the mac & cheese were meaty & complimented the pasta perfectly. The mac & cheese was not overly cheesy which actually went quite well as it wasn’t too heavy & didn’t detract from the steak. Our sauces were porter & bacon & smoked garlic & pink peppercorn & although they were nice, I didn’t feel they were needed as the steak & sides provided enough flavour for the main course.

sides

With my main I had a particularly fabulous cocktail which had a spirit I had never heard or, nor can recall but had green apple sorbet in it with a large slice of a granny smith. I’d never had sorbet in a cocktail but it was really refreshing & helped soak up the (strong) alcohol that was in the cocktail.

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I have to take my hats off to Porter & Rye for providing a dessert I could not resist, which is rare for me. I opted to have the peanut butter ice cream with banana & toffee sauce to end my meal. The ice cream was creamy & a not so strong but just about right peanut butter flavour. The banana was in the form of chips & caramelised banana chunks which was perfect with the toffee sauce.

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Porter & Rye was the best dining experience I’ve had since we dined in a Aux Armes de Bruxelles on our mini-moon. Yes it was expensive (we were £98 in total) but the reflection of the amount of time, effort & money they have spent developing the concept & dishes is evident from the moment you are seated. With new starters due to be launched in the coming weeks, I’m excited to see what else they can offer on top of what I regard to be an already amazing restaurant. This will definitely be one of our go-to restaurants for special occasions!

The Pelican Cafe

I did not realise that I haven’t posted for over a month until I sat down to write this. Apologies for the silence, things have been busy in the world of Get Stuffed with a new baking venture (more details once I get the blog updated – check out my facebook page for more details).

Anyway, back to The Pelican Cafe. We visited the restaurant recently as we had a 2 course with prosecco deal that was due to run out. The Pelican Cafe is in a strange location, directly across from Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum yet in-between the bustling restaurant & bar areas of Finnieston & Byres Rd. Definitely one of those “you wouldn’t know it was there unless you were looking for it” venues.

I was surprised to see the restaurant quite busy at 6pm on a Sunday given that is usually a quiet time between services on a Sunday. We were given a choice of tables & decided to sit next to the open kitchen as I quite like being able to see what the chefs are up to. The only stipulation of our deal was that we could not choose any of the fish main courses. I had had a peek of the menu before we went & had my heart set on a beef stew that contained brisket, ox cheek & a few other cuts. I was quite disappointed to see that was not on the menu. In this day & age, it does not take long to update a menu on the site so there’s no excuse really.

Goat's cheese tartinPotted salmon

Our starters arrived – I opted for the goat’s cheese tartin with caramelised onion marmalade & Al went for the potted smoked salmon. The presentation of both dishes was lovely. The goats cheese was very fresh & there was a lot of it. Unfortunately, despite being advertised as having caramelised onion marmalade, there was literally a teaspoon of it on top of the tart. This made the dish slightly dry as it was mainly cheese & pastry. I was reluctant to try the potted salmon as I’d had potted shrimps years ago & it tasted of butter only. However, there was only a thin layer of butter on this portion & it was more like a salmon mousse underneath. Perfect on the large bits of bread provided.

Potted salmon

We had around a 10-15 minute wait for our mains & during that time, the turnaround of tables was constant. Surprising for such a small restaurant in an unusual location – I estimate it holds around 30-50 covers. There were only 3 waiting staff who were constantly rushing around yet were attentive, noticing if you needed a drink before you had a chance to ask.

After the disappointment of the stew not being available, I opted for their “award winning” salsiccia & tomato cream lasagne. Now I absolutely love lasagne (no-one can touch my dad’s though!) but this was not a lasagne. What I received instead was basically lasagne sheets with some Italian sausage & bathed in what tasted like a jar of pasta sauce. There was no layering of cheese sauce, meat & pasta. But saying that, it was not unedible, just not what I & most people who like a good lasagne would expect. I would have advertised it more as a pasta bake. The large pieces of garlic sour dough bread that accompanied it were fantastic & I struggled to finish it.

Salsiccia & Tomato cream lasagne

The other main was The Pelican Cafe’s take on fish n chips which compromised of coley, sea bass & king prawns in a real ale batter. I tried one of the prawns & the batter was awful. It was so thick it was reminiscent of chicken balls you get at the chinese. Not the light, crispy beer batter you would associate with fish & chips. The one part about this I did like was the giant hand cut chips that accompanied it. They were very fresh & tasty but you literally needed 3 or 4 on the plate, they are that big!

Fish & Chips

I’d say The Pelican Cafe was a bit of a miss on this occasion due to the choices we made. Given the extensive menu, I’d not rule out returning & trying other dishes given the reasonable pricing of the menu.