A new restaurant has arrived on Colmore Row and last week a few bloggers and I were invited to try out the early evening set menu. Gusto falls under the Living Ventures umbrella and is joined by The Alchemist next door.
I’d heard of Living Ventures for years, but had never been to any of their bars or restaurants. I’d heard fantastic things about the wine lists and their cocktails too. Another place that’s owned by Living Ventures, that I’d really like to visit is the Australasia restaurant in Manchester.
Set in the middle of Colmore Row, under The Grand Hotel, everything about it’s interior is magical. I take a seat at the tavola con amici, a table at the heart of the bar, it’s made to be shared with friends. My companions for the evening Emily, Helen, Hannah, Adam and Ed, begin to arrive and we share a few nibbles – mixed olives and sundried tomatoes. Our dinner reservation is at 6.30pm, so whilst we are waiting the group bar manager makes us a selection of cocktails to show off the bar menu.
I really liked the following cocktails:
- Kiwi Margarita – refreshing with the kiwi and lime juice really coming through.
- Elderflower Negroni – an ode to the classic Negroni of Italy , incorporating elderflower liquer. I loved this cocktail and will definitely order it again!
We were also served a Honey Rose, The Passionate Fizz, Raspberry and Rosemary Sling and a Grape and Cherry Spritz. Gust have a suprisingly large bar menu for a restaurant, but I think the bar is seen as just as important. I would go here just for drinks. I’d definitely want to try the Cucumber and Elderflower Martini and the Vanilla Rum. Gusto also has an impressive wine list, with lots of interesting wines by the glass!
The bar area is quiet spacious and beautifully decorated. It is deeply refreshing to have a bar area that lies completely separately from the restaurant, allowing diners to enjoy their food without the hustle and bustle of the restaurant. First impressions were pleasing and if you are the sort of person that enjoys taking Instagram worthy photos this is the place to do just that. They have twinkling lights everywhere.
We make our way to the restaurant and take our seats. The dining area is split in two, providing seating for up to 130 covers. When we take our seats at around 6.30pm there are already a few diners and by 7.30pm it is busy, with only a couple of tables available. Surprisingly very busy for a Tuesday. Even with the amount of guests it never felt noisy.
For my starter I was torn between the duck bruschetta and salmon bruschetta. I settle on the smoked duck, with caramelised chicory and ginger, only because I haven’t had anything like it before. I like that the duck is wafer thin and that the bread is super crispy with hints of olive oil.
For my main course I chose the pan fried fillet of seabass, it’s served with a crunchy vegetable salad consisting of carrots and cabbage and a salsa verde dressing. I really liked the fish, it was cooked to perfection and the acidity in the salsa verde really complimented the meal. I liked the salsa verde so much, I cheekily asked for a little bit more.
The early dining menu is a 2 course set menu with a spritz cocktail. It is served between 5pm-7pm and considering how busy it was when we were there, it seems the local after work crowd like it!
We finished the evening with a shared chocolate fondue dessert. On the menu, it’s served for 2 to share, however on the evening they were presented for 3. The churros were my favourite and they went really well with chocolate and the frangelico. We attempted to pour the frangelico into the chocolate dipping sauce, but the consistency didn’t work. To be honest I’m not entirely sure we were supposed to do that. I finished with a limoncello and green tea. An Italian meal is incomplete without a digestif, my favourite is Amaretto.
I was a bit skeptical, as I didn’t want yet another Italian-chain-restaurant, however I was pleasantly suprised by the fresh ingredients and knowlegdeable and personable staff.
On a final note (and no I didn’t take a photo), Gusto I applaud you, your toilets are fantastic, they are well thought out and super hygienic!! Thank you!!
Who: Gusto Restaurant, Birmingham What: An Italian restaurant with modern charm. Good for after work cocktails. Where: Gusto Birmingham Unit 10, The Grand Hotel, Colmore Row, Birmingham B3 2DA
As always my writing, my honest views.