Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Gusto, Cheadle Hulme Manchester.

My mum has always said that I have expensive tastes, way beyond my actual budget, even when I was a kid. Being a food fanatic is a costly business, I only have limited resources and so have to choose how I'm spending my dwindling money as wisely as I can. I like to eat the very best though - high end Michelin star restaurants if possible - which I can only visit infrequently (although way too much according to Mrs Bacon,) and budget cheap eats, which obviously I can do more regularly. Costs mount up though, I reckon I dropped over two grand in Barcelona alone. Most of it was wisely spent though, and I don't regret it, what else am I going to do with it? Save it?!
So I tend to avoid what I class as mid-range and even more so chain restaurants, I've found that these can be (but not always) the most disappointing of places, I'd prefer to spend a little more or a little less.
There are perks to being a blogger though - the 'controversial' complimentary meal. Here's how it works; a PR company or restaurant contacts the blogger and asks if they'd like to come and taste the new menu or whatever. If it's me, I'll probably do it, there are not many better ways to spend an evening than a lovely meal that you didn't pay for. The restaurant in turn gets promotion on the website. Everyone's a winner right? Well, obviously there are issues here, the blogger may get preferential treatment it's true, but it's easy to observe other tables and see if it's any different. In the end it comes down to this; is the food any good? Luckily I've had no real stinkers of comped meals yet (though a few average ones.)
At no point does the restaurant in question ever say they offer it - in exchange for a good review (in my experience anyway.) Obviously they're hoping you give them a good write up, but actually sometimes constructive criticism can be just as helpful, so I always give it when necessary as I would anyway if I was paying for it. Don't forget as well, that it takes hours on just one post - so a lot of work goes into it, sorting the photos out etc, so the 'free meal' takes a lot of work and time in the end.
Anyway, I was contacted by Gusto in Cheadle Hulme. I had no idea what Gusto was, it was off my radar, I googled it, it's a chain mid range restaurant, (my least favourite) but the reviews were favourable, so I accepted the invitation.
It's just past Waitrose in Cheadle Hulme (my dream: being able to do a full weekly shop in there,) and looks rather swish from the outside. Oh I forgot to mention - it's a Living Ventures operation, so I knew it'd be well run.

Extremely good first impressions, a smart interior and very friendly staff welcoming us, even down to a massive bunch of flowers in the entrance - all these details matter - clearly we were in safe hands.
It was quiet at 5pm but by the time we left it was filling up nicely. I'd guess this is likely the best restaurant round these parts.

 We started off with a Garlic bread of half tomato, half mozzarella, this was very decent, the base a proper one just made, the tomato fresh and clean tasting. It's amazing though how many places get something as simple as garlic bread wrong by being lazy and not caring. (Not to mention not making everything fresh from scratch.)

 I had a good feeling about it here. The service was spot on as well, our waiter was helpful and knowledgeable. Starters proper were a Goats Cheese Panna Cotta, (£5.50) this is such a fine simple idea it was a a really lovely dish, fresh and light with a good nicely presented salad (Mrs Bacon especially loved this.)
So already this was miles better than I thought it'd be. I'd guessed it'd be something like Croma, or Est est est, but it was a step up from that, it had proper food for a start.  

Hand Rolled Meatballs in Spicy Tomato Sauce (£5.95) were damn good too.

Here are the mains we had in order of our preference (all small portions so we could taste more!) Parmesan Risotto with chestnut and oyster mushrooms finished with truffle butter & pancetta (£5.95.) Our favourite; comforting warm and tasty.

Gnocci and slow roast pork, cherry tomatoes, pesto and rocket (£5.75)

Spaghetti with crayfish, garlic, chilli and extra virgin olive oil. (£6.50)

Desserts were good too, my favourite, the Panna cotta, fresh berries and mint with biscotti (£5.95)

Plus a Chocolate mousse (£4.95) which was almost too sickly sweet, I couldn't finish it all. You'd expect the doughnuts that come with this dish to be poor (as at other places we've visited recently), but these were clearly made on the premises and tasted it. Again, the devil is in the detail.

We thoroughly enjoyed our meal at Gusto, the food was good, (much better than expected) the service was really excellent and the interior and atmosphere were spot on.

There's no getting away from it Gusto is a mid range chain restaurant, which I wouldn't normally visit unless I'd been invited, but it turned out to be a very enjoyable evening. What they do at Gusto, they do really well. If I had one word for it; I'd say slick. The food needn't be as good as it is, they could probably get away with it being worse, like at other chains, but that's what makes them so successful, - for what it is - it's a very well run local restaurant and I would happily return and pay for a meal there.

Star Dish: Parmesan Risotto.

Tune: Brazilian Love Affair - George Duke. Played that night. RIP the late George Duke.

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Gusto Restaurant & Bar Cheadle Hulme on Urbanspoon


  1. You've not been to Seven Spices in Cheadle Hulme? Best Indian food in Greater Manchester. It's just around the corner from Waitrose there.

    1. Oh thanks! I noticed that place, to be honest I don't often venture to Cheadle Hulme.

  2. It's really worth a visit. The people who run it used to own The Gaylord in town (think it closed in 2004.) Really interesting dishes on the menu, and none of the one, two, or three chili symbology to indicate how spicy something is... (The tawa, Benghan bartha, and Goan fish curry dishes are not to be missed... ) Hidden gem.