REVIEW – Christmas meal at Gusto, George Street

*****

By Sophia Brennert

Gusto Christmas menu hits the mark

Apple Pie Martini

Is it just me, or is the early onset of one very uppity winter attempting to ruin an otherwise smooth ride towards the proverbial partridge in a pear tree?

The relentless snow has been wreaking havoc with my festive cheer, and I’m fed up. So fed up that I have thrown away years of suspicion over specialty holiday menus and lunged hungrily at the opportunity to have my Christmas spirit literally fed to me.

Gusto on George Street launched their new Christmas menu this week and it turned out to be anything but the dry turkey Christmas meals I’ve suffered through in the past.

First of all, to compliment the menu the talented bar staff have designed an array of Christmas-themed cocktails, including a winter berry mojito and a rum punch with port and the zing of pineapple and orange (like a hug in a glass). I lingered a long time over the apple pie martini, enjoying the waft of cinnamon and vanilla between sips. Ladies: horrible day? Imagine being able to ring out an apple pie and add vodka. It is splendid.

It was hard to choose from the menu, especially the mains (salmon? turkey? steak? cannelloni?). But with some sound advice from our server we settled in and I fell instantly in love with my starter: a winter leaves salad with goats cheese and a honey roasted figs. Peppery rocket, the crunch of homemade olive-oil laden croutons and the sweet whisper of honey over goat’s cheese. 

Winter salad

“I fell instantly in love with my starter”.

For me the test of a Christmas menu is still the turkey. It has to be done, but the challenge for a restaurant is to highlight traditional flavours without succumbing to the pitfalls of same-old turkey and trimmings. Gusto’s answer is a turkey escalope with cured ham and sage, served with a rich white wine reduction and marinated aubergines that almost melted when I ate them.

Of course if you would rather save turkey until the big day, the steak is a great option. They have gone for a warming masala wine sauce which played nicely off the sweet and salt flavours of a shallot and pancetta confit. To accompany, rosemary roast potatoes gave both dishes that homey, Sunday meal feeling.

 “marinated aubergines that almost melted when I ate them”.

Gusto's turkey

For dessert we chose the cappuccino panna cotta and the chocolate torte. Although it had no alcohol, the panna cotta reminded me of the cozy satisfaction of adding Bailey’s to coffee – pure comfort. The torte was seriously rich but the generous serving of raspberries added the perfect tart contrast.

By the time we finished I had developed the slow, goofy grin that is my body’s response when I am deeply pleased. At £25.95 the Christmas menu is pleasantly affordable, which allows for the addition of other treats (mmmmm….cocktails).

Walking home afterward the winter world looked beautiful again. Christmas spirit restored! Now for presents. Do you think they could wrap an apple pie martini?

Chocolate Torte

You can peruse the Gusto Christmas menu on their website, or join their facebook page.

Suitable for disabled?   Yes, Gusto has a ground level entrance with an accessible bathroom.

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