Lunch | Monday 31st October 2016
The Gusto restaurants are inspired by the traditional grand cafes of Europe. True to the nature and design of their other chains, the Birmingham branch is sprinkled with fairy lights and gives out a warmth through its decor and staff.
Opened on Friday 23rd September, as part of the renovation of The Grand Hotel on Colmore Row, the Italian restaurant is the newest addition to the Gusto chains across England and Scotland and is owned by the Living Ventures group that also own the neighbouring bar, The Alchemist.
The restaurant was quiet with few people dining and Ange, Alex and myself were seated by the window with a great view onto the busy Colmore Row. We were offered a selection of Breads & Nibbles on arrival and after drinks were ordered, we were given time to look through the menus. The menu showcased Deli Boards (from £7.95 per person), a range of a la carte choices and set price lunch menus (£12.95 for 2 courses or £14.95 for 3 courses).
The three of us opted for the a la carte menu and started off with the Calamari Deep Fried with Lemon Mayonnaise, Smoked Haddock Risotto (with baby spinach, peas and poached egg) and Grana Pandano Risotto (with a selection of wild mushroom finished with truffle butter and pancetta). Myself opting for the Calamari, I was left a little deflated as the dish was mainly made up of chunks of batter with only a few of the pieces containing any squid. I was however ensured by Alex that Grana Pandano Rissoto (with added parmesan) was good and definitely a better choice against the Calamari and Ange’s Smoked Haddock Risotto.
Our main courses followed with Alex and Ange deciding on the Roast Lamb Rump (with truffle cheese flavoured piccolo ravioli and tomato sauce) and myself on the White Crab, Chilli and Garlic Spaghetti (with fresh lemon). Prior to the dishes being served, the preference on the lamb was confirmed by the waitress, at rare, and I was asked whether I wanted parmesan on the spaghetti. Unfortunately, the lamb arrived quite well done, and I didn’t receive the discussed cheese but none the less, both mains went down as expected.
We were politely checked-in on by the staff through the lunch and the small team were pleasant and relaxed. The stylish decor is the major selling point of the restaurant, as it is incredibly photogenic and would appear to be great place for a quick lunch, first date or even a Christmas-do. The food was dubbed ‘nice’ but underwhelming by us all and I fear I was left a bit flat after seeing the potential the restaurant has with its sleek look not being conveyed through its food.
Our bill for three starters, mains and drinks came to around £110. A trip back to Gusto is not entirely off the cards, however with other great quality Italian style restaurants near-by, that position themselves at a lower price point for the same standard of food, I don’t think I’ll be back in a hurry.