The nights have well and truly drawn in, the temperature has dropped and the clocks have gone back. Ding ding it’s winter!
I’ve had the chance to sample Gusto Cookridge‘s new winter menu* and, if anything will cheer you up from 16 hours of darkness for the next few months, it’s this.
If you haven’t been to Gusto’s suburban restaurant, you should. It’s romantic and intimate but without being pretentious or uncomfortable if you’re not after a date. In fact the restaurant is popular with all kinds of clientelle from families (kiddies get to make their own pizzas during the day) to groups of friends and even for evening out with colleagues. I love that if you’re not drinking the non-alcholic drink options are not just the usual nod to a handful of barely considered mocktails but there’s a real range,i tried the refreshing Honey Dew and didn’t feel like a toddler grown up like I sometimes do when I’m driving and have to have an orange juice (yawn).
This is restaurant is part of a chain but the attention to detail really is second to none.
So, on to the winter menu.
For starters, there’s new cheese and meat boards and you can even combine as a sharer if you can’t pick whether you’re in a cheesy or meaty mood. I really loved the Roasted Butternut Squash and Chickpea Salad, though. This has Chickpeas, butternut squash, fennel, pomegranate, carrot, spiced pumpkin seeds, rocket, lollo bionde, little gem, cucumber, radish, julienne red chilli, spring onions, crispy shallots and soya beans and comes dressed with lemon. The pomegranate really made it for me. Delicious.
For mains, you can’t go wrong with a pizza (my favourite was the Florentine- you can never go wrong with a pizza that includes an egg cooked into the middle). Maybe you’d prefer pasta? The Seafood Tagliatelle is creamy and spicy – it comes in a mouclade sauce which is made with white wine, curry, cream and garlic and doesn’t leave you with that stodgy feeling winter food sometimes can. It comes with mussels, squid & prawns and feels decadent without breaking the bank.
You’re spoilt for choice with new wintry mains, too. The Lamb Cacciatore (meaning ‘hunter’ is the word used to decribe this type of stew in Italy) is a warmer with Lamb shoulder, pancetta, red wine, carrots, celery and onions slow cooked in a tomato sauce it’s served with artisan toast.
I really enjoyed the Cod tail wrapped in Tuscan ham (unusual bease I’d norally never choose the fish (. This comes served on a bed of pepperoni spiced puy lentils which I wasn’t sure I’d be keen on, in truth. Eating my words, this was my favourite accompaniment of the evening.
The Fillet of Pork ‘Saltimbocca’ is wrapped in prosciutto and sage and served on a bed of mash with a red wine sauce . ‘Saltimbocca’ means ‘jump in the mouth’ and this certainly does.
As well as Gusto’s signature Chocolate Calzone (I’m yet to try but I’m absolutely dying to) the new winter menu includes Basil and Mint Panna Cotta and a delicious Vanilla Cheesecake served with Amara cherries and cherry syrup.
If you’re after a treat then get booked. You might also want to join the diners club (it’s free) for 40% off food on a Monday.
You can thank me once you’ve tried it!