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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Jam Jar Kitchens

I know that when I think of somewhere outside of Glasgow to get a good quality bite to eat, Cardross would not be the first place that pops into my head. For those not familiar with Cardross, it’s a village just outside of Helensburgh & home to Jam Jar Kitchens. As with a lot of eateries, I came across Jam Jar Kitchens via Twitter & kept an eye on their wares through both Twitter & Facebook. It is the brain child of Masterchef the Professionals contestant, David Hetherington, formerly of Riverhill Deli (the original & sister of the Glasgow one).

Jam Jar Kitchens

We decided to pop along for lunch last Saturday on our way back from visiting family in Helensburgh as the restaurant is only open until 5pm. At the start of every month, Jam Jar Kitchens runs an evening menu the first Friday & Saturday for a set price & BYOB, showcasing . Their facebook page is a constant tease, showcasing their unique cakes (Oreo Muffins!!), weekly specials & monthly evening menus so I was desperate to pay a visit! The restaurant itself is quite cosy, as you would expect in a village like Cardross. The restaurant is decorated with lots of quirky & unique touches like a herb box filled with fresh herbs at the back window, Scottish themed cushions on the seats & a selection of different handwashes in the toilet.

Decoration

Herb Boz

The menu is a reasonable size for a restaurant of this size, offering breakfast options, a range of sandwiches & some hot dishes as well as homemade cakes. That week I had been eyeing up their special – philly cheesesteak & pizza fries so opted for that. It arrived & the portion was pretty big for one person! The philly cheesesteak was phenomenal. Honestly, I was struggling to think of words to describe it afterwards. It was filled with strips of fresh steak, grated cheese & a tomato-chilli jam which gave it a nice zing. I was initially disappointed with the pizza fries as they didn’t have a lot of #”pizza” topping. However, as soon as I started munching, it was evident there was topping spread throughout the portion of fries but just enough so the chips were not soggy. I have an issue with saturation with things like chips so they were ideal for me. Again, there was a slight chilli flavour to the tomato sauce, I suspected the same as on the cheesesteak, which added a nice flavour element to the fries.

Philly Cheesesteak

Pizza Fries

A opted for a crayfish marie rose sandwich which arrived in a giant foccacia casing. I had a bite of it & the sauce was really tasty, again with a slight chilli hint adding a twist to it. It was filled to the brim & after finishing the sandwich, A had loads of surplus crayfish remaining! The one part of the meal that I have to take my hat off to Jam Jar Kitchens for is their coleslaw. I don’t know about anyone else but my most favourite coleslaw in the world is Marks & Spencers coleslaw & Jam Jar Kitchens offering, in my opinion, rivals it! I never thought it would be possible to find anywhere that did a better coleslaw than M&S!!

Crayfish Sandwich

Coleslaw

Although Cardross is a bit outside of Glasgow & the outskirts, it is relatively easy to get to by train on the Helensburgh line, with the restaurant a short walk from the train station. If you’re looking for a filling lunch or a different dinner experience away from the big city, I would hands down recommend Jam Jar Kitchens.

Serving Board

Auchrannie Resort, Arran

Last weekend we visit the Auchrannie Resort on the Isle of Arran. Instead of getting each other a Christmas present, we decided to go away after Christmas & Auchrannie was somewhere I had always had my eye on. By chance, in late November a Groupon appeared so we decided to book a weekend away.

We were lucky with the weather as previous weekends had saw the ferry cancelled & diverted to Gourock. Luckily for us, the sailing was smooth & the crossing took a mere hour. The Auchrannie provide transport from the ferry port so there is no need to bring your car (which costs £55 on the ferry!!). We only had to wait a couple of minutes for the bus to arrive & our luggage was promptly put on board.

Now I don’t know about you but when I think of a house hotel, I imagine a vast house up a gravel path sitting in acres of its own land. This was not the case with Auchrannie which was up a path but it is surrounded by other houses which I found a bit unusual. The resort is made up of 3 sections: the house hotel which is adults only, the Spa Resort which is family friendly & then lodges which are available to rent & buy as timeshares. We were staying in the house hotel which was the first drop off for the bus. The staff were very friendly & provided a warm welcome.

We were shown to our room which was just up the stairs from the reception. On entering, the receptionist mentioned that she found the room a bit cold but it should heat up soon. The room was well decorated & actually a bit bigger than other hotel rooms we had stayed in. The phone suddenly rang & it was reception informing us that they felt the room was too cold so they were upgrading us to a suite for free! You hear of this happening to other people so it was a total shock for it to happen to us! Our suite was AMAZING! It had a bedroom & lounge as well as the biggest bathroom I’ve ever seen! We quickly settled in before heading off for a wander.

Bathroom

The house hotel has 2 restaurants: Brambles & eighteen69. It also contains a small bar in the main lounge, a 20 metre pool & small gym. In the Spa resort, which is a few minutes walk away, there is the Cruize bar & brasserie, a 20 metre pool, a kids play area, spa & gym area.

That night we decided to have dinner in the Cruize restaurant. Going for dinner around 6:30 it was quieter than we are used to but since it was low season, the whole resort was generally quieter than normal. The Cruize restaurant is aimed at a more laidback dining experience with a varied menu with a gastropub feel to it. We ordered salt & pepper prawns & an antipasto board to start followed by a cajun chicken pizza & burger with japalenos & Arran chilli cheese (when in Rome etc). The meal overall was delicious! The prawns came in a light but not quite tempura & the salt & pepper seasoning was subtle enough not to take away the taste of the prawns. The antipasto platter did not have as much meat as I would’ve have liked but it meant that it was light enough for me to enjoy my main. The ciabatta that accompanied it was lovely & fresh. Our mains also did not disappointed. The burger patty was moist & quite large. The jalapenos & chili cheese went with the standard tomato relish that accompanied it. The pizza was a delight. It was quite large & full of peppers, onions, cajun chicken & jalapenos. It was also drizzled with sour cream which I don’t normally like but it contrasted well with the spice.

Tempura PrawnsAntipasto

BurgerCajun Chicken Pizza

We followed dinner with some drinks in the bar area which has normal chairs & table as well as a den like area which has a tv if you wish to watch something whilst having some drinks. I sampled a few cocktails off the menu which were a tad pricey (most over £7) but they were well mixed & tasted lovely. My particular favourite was the Auchrannie bramble – their twist on the classic bramble which was so fresh & fruity.

White Russian

Our rate did not include breakfast so we had the choice of either the house hotel or spa resort. We opted to head over to Cruize as it was slightly cheaper than the house hotel breakfast. We were greeted with a standard hot breakfast buffet with a continental selection which had a good selection of fish & Arran cheeses. The breakfast was nice & there was nothing you can really complain about. Only thing I wasn’t too keen on were the links which had leek within them. I found that a bit weird.

I could document our day but I’d rather not bore you with the details! That evening we had booked into the Brambles restaurant. We arrived on time but had to wait 5-10 minutes as our table wasn’t ready. We ordered drinks & were given menus to peruse so the wait didn’t feel too long. We promptly ordered after being seated – prawns were on the menu again with tempura prawns & the “famous” fishcake for starters & fiery hot chicken & pepper kebabs & tomato & chorizo mussels to follow. The tempura prawns were lovely, accompanied by a tasty tomato & chilli jam. I ordered the fishcake which I was apprehensive about since I have childhood memories of dry, tasteless fishcakes. I had nothing to worry about with this! The fishcake was filled with smoked salmon & haddock & accompanied with a sunblushed tomato aioli. It was filled with fish which meant you didn’t really notice the potato within the fishcake. It was a bit on the large side for a starter so I did struggle to finish it. Our mains arrived & I have honestly never seen mussels so big in my life! They were massive! The tomato & chorizo sauce was so flavoursome which makes a change from other restaurants were the mussel sauce can be a bit bland. The kebabs were not as hot as had been advertised. They came with tortillas, sour cream, guacamole & salsa. The accompaniments were very fresh, the salsa being very tasty but the guacamole had too much lime in it making it slightly difficult to eat as it overpowered the other tastes.

Salt n Pepper PrawnsFishcake

MusselsMussels

Kebabs

That evening we decided to have drinks in the house hotel bar. The lounge area is decorated in a traditional Scottish style with a large fire. The bar itself is small but well stocked. I ordered a margarita later in the evening & although they didn’t have all of the ingredients there, the bartender went to get lime juice & I had my drink 10 minutes later. The staff were also quite chatty & willing to chat away with the residents sitting in the lounge.

We left the next morning but I could’ve stayed there another night or 2. Overall, we loved our stay at the Auchrannie, I mean who couldn’t with a room like that! But in all honesty, the facilities were fantastic & the restaurants were definitely worth the visit. We will more than likely return & actually make use of the pool & spa facilities next time!!