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: Fonab Castle

As I mentioned in my last post, we recently stayed overnight at Fonab Castle in Pitlochry. I’d spent ages trying to find a decent 2 night break for my husband’s birthday at the end of Feb but I kept finding niggles with everywhere. I kept coming back to Fonab & decided to book their winter special DBB deal.

castle

The castle itself is tucked away just off the A9 at Pitlochry. Although the hotel is a castle, it has a modern block build onto to which does slightly detract from the novelty of staying in a castle. Inside the hotel, the decor is very modern with splashes of Scottish thrown in with thistles on the wallpaper & stags heads for coat hooks on the doors.

decor

The reception staff were very informative, giving us the low down on where all facilities were in the hotel & taking our reservation for dinner. The hotel has 2 restaurants – a bistro & a more formal dining experience with tasting menus. As part of our deal, we had dinner included in the bistro & being the foodie I am, I had perused the menu beforehand & already picked my dishes!

We had booked a room in the castle (ticking another thing off my bucketlist!) & our room was situated on the third floor. Unfortunately our room overlooked the carpark which didn’t provide much entertainment as you’d expect! The room itself was gorgeous. It had a large oversized king bed, feature wall, nespresso machine, smart tv & ipod dock! What more could you ask for?! Oh yeah, a bath! That was the one disappointing element about the room – the bathroom only had a large shower. Although, the shower head was the largest I had ever seen – it was wider than my head! The toiletries in the bathroom were Thierry Mugler (of Angel perfume fame) so that did make up for no bath slightly as well.

room

We ventured over to the newly built spa building across the carpark for an afternoon dip. We struck lucky & the pool was deserted! It was obvious that the hotel were finding their feet with the new pool as we had to leave the jacuzzi as the chlorine levels were too high. In the changing rooms, there were more small touches to add to the experience such as luxury toiletries & bathrobes to use.

pool

Since our trip coincided with my husband’s birthday, we brought some champagne along with us. On past trips, when we’ve asked for an ice bucket, hotels have wanted to charge £5+ just to bring the bucket to the room. We knew asking for one, we might face a similar charge given the high class of the hotel. When we asked for one to be sent up, the porter also asked what type of glasses we would like. That’s service you don’t get in a travelodge! And to make it better, we were not charged for it. I’ll admit that it took every ounce of restraint to not take the tray that the bucket & glasses were brought up on. I mean check it out – who could resist that?!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Before dinner, we went for a drink in the lounge which overlooks the Loch. The bar has a mix of chesterfield & oversized fabric sofas which made it feel quite homely. One wall of the lounge is covered in a mirrored bottle rack, with the second largest collection of wine I’ve ever seen, only rivalled by the Ritz Carlton in Hong Kong.  The hotel prides itself on its gin collection & did not disappoint! It was the first place I have ever seen to stock Rock Rose gin which made me a happy bunny!

bar

Despite picking out my dishes, the menu we were presented with had some changes to the one I’d viewed online. For starters, we had smoked salmon & avocado on brioche & confit of duck. I was slightly disappointed with the salmon as I was expecting either slices or chunks of avocado on the dish. However, the avocado was more like a mousse which made me feel a bit short changed. The whole combo was delicious, along with the lime creme fraiche that accompanied the dish. Duck is not a meat I’m overly keen on but it would have been rude not to sample a bit of the confit. I was pleasantly surprised to taste a smokey & tender meat with no trace of fat. Duck may be another meat I’ve been converted to!

The main I’d had my heart set on, braised ox cheek, was not on the current menu. This left me with a dilemma of having chicken or taking a leap & trying venison. I’d tried venison a few years back but found it too gamey for my tastes. I decided to take the risk & I did not regret it! The venison was slightly pink, making it really tender. For me the taste was between lamb & steak with the sweet yet meaty taste. The dish was accompanied by braised cabbage & a bramble jus which just left me with a taste explosion with every mouthful. It was by far the best dish I’ve had in a long time.

dinner

The other main, spiced monkfish with sweet potato & lime & coriander puree, was also a hit. The dish contained the biggest monkfish tail I’ve ever seen! Considering the dish was priced at £19.95, it was a complete bargain for the quality & quantity of food on the plate.

When you stay at a hotel on a DBB deal, it’s usually stated how much allowance you have for dinner. At Fonab, there was no such information given to us which made us unsure if we could have a dessert or not. I’m finding myself being more drawn to desserts these days & the treacle tart on the menu, I couldn’t resist! We ordered that along with a dark chocolate fondant to finish our meal.

The treacle tart arrived & looked scrumptious. One bite into it & I remembered why I don’t order desserts. It was so disappointing. The tart was quite dry & didn’t have the wow factor I had expected. The dark chocolate fondant was a hit with my husband who devoured the gooey pudding.

breakfast

At breakfast the next morning, the hotel offered a 3 course feast. The offerings include your typical breakfast items such as a full breakfast, eggs benedict & kippers. I decided to branch out & try some of the more unfamiliar items. To start I had caramelised pink grapefruit which was followed by toast. My main breakfast item was steak & eggs. I swear I did not eat late afternoon after such a feast!

viewThe view at breakfast was a nice ending to our brief stay. The restaurant overlooks the Loch with a vista of the snowed covered hills in the background. A reminder of why it’s sometimes better to make the most of what’s on your doorstep 🙂

Gandolfi Fish

Last week we celebrated our first wedding anniversary & decided to go somewhere a bit higher end to celebrate. Picking a restaurant was hard, Glasgow just has so many options! We whittled it down to a couple of options, from which I picked Gandolfi Fish since I’d heard nothing but good reviews from people who had dined there. Even my wee gran who is the hardest woman to please with food said they did the best fish & chips so it must be good!

Cava

We booked a table for 7pm & I was quite surprised at how quite it was. It seemed like we were caught between pre-theatre/post shopping diners & dinner service. The menu is what you would expect of a fish restaurant, a decent variety of different fish with some regulars like calamari, fish & chips & prawn cocktail. They also have a specials menu which contains seasonal starters & mains along with matching wines. I got the impression that Gandolfi have a big emphasis on wine & aim to provide matching wines for each dish, along with an extensive wine list!

Lobster Pic

I opted for a special of thai spiced crab cakes in what was a hard decision between them & squid braised in red wine. When my starter arrived, after a couple of bites, I regretted my choice as the crab cakes were regular crab cakes with a bit of seasoning & spices, nothing really to shout home about. A’s starter, however, was fantastic. He’d opted for the salt & chilli squid, which was in a calamari style. The flavouring was subtle but still with the kick you’d expect from salt & chilli but the main talking point, for me, was the freshness of the squid. Instead of a rubbery, chewy texture you often get with calamari, this was soft & tender & almost melted in the mouth.

Salt & Chilli Calamari

Crab Cakes

I’d known what I was having for my main before the night – salmon wellington & it did not disappoint! The pastry was thin enough that it didn’t detract from the salmon, which was, well probably the best salmon I’ve ever tasted. It was cooked perfectly, flaking with any tough & was accompanied by a perfect hollandaise sauce. My only complaint was that there wasn’t enough sauce! The other main, peat smoked haddock, was also melt in the mouth, full of flavour, amazingness (I don’t know if that’s a word).  Honestly, I need to get my hands on some because it was so moreish!

Salmon Wellington

Peat Smoked Haddock

The side of chippy chips I’d ordered were a big let down. Given that there is a chippy adjoined to the restaurant, I’d expected them to be amazing. Instead, they were just greasy chips with no flavour to them whatsoever. Additionally, with the haddock, the menu stated crushed potatoes with spring onions but it was spring onion mash. It wouldn’t have been an issue for me but given A doesn’t like mash, it wasn’t what he’d wanted.

Chips

I think we will visit Gandolfi Fish again but go with my gut decision with menu choices to prevent from being disappointed again!

Fish Pic