Located in Elliot House on Deansgate – a Grade II-listed building that underwent a £1.3 million renovation – Gusto has a kind of quiet grandeur to it. The tiles, decor and colour scheme all whisper of 1920s glamour, filtered through Manchester’s unique industrial heritage. The ceilings are high, the island bar is a stunning feature in its own right, and there’s a private dining area for parties and events. Overall, the effect is of a seriously plush hotel restaurant on the continent. Add to this a well curated, sumptuous menu riffing off Italian classics, and you have the perfect venue for a decadent lunch or dinner.
The staff on our visit were friendly and welcoming from the moment we walked through the day – something we’ve noticed consistently on our trips to the restaurant. We were able to chat about the menu a bit before we ordered, taking recommendations and tips from our knowledgeable server, which helped us navigate the different offerings. Although we’d sampled canapes at a party here before, this was our first time taking a seat to enjoy a proper meal in the restaurant – and we weren’t disappointed.
The menu offers quite a bit of choice, but is broken up into various sections, which makes it more manageable. The guidance from our server was of course a great help here, although the menu isn’t so big you get lost.
At the server’s suggestion, we warmed up with bruschetta topped with smoked duck, caramelised chicory and ginger as we lingered over the menu. There are three topping options for the bruschetta, but the duck stood out as the most unusual, so we gave it a try and it was definitely a good choice. It makes a change to the usual crusty bread and, if you’re like me, it’s a great way to try as many different flavours as you can in your evening.
We were initially drawn to the gorgeous deli boards, although we prepared for the hefty meal ahead with smaller starters: asparagus with dolcelatte mayonnaise and roasted red peppers; and smoked salmon with spiced avocado, red pepper puree and capers.
The asparagus was simply delicious. The dolcelatte mayonnaise was a creamy treat, which combined well with the vegetables, adding a hint of decadence to the proceedings.
Likewise, the smoked salmon was great too, albeit without the guilt of the mayonnaise. Combined with the avocado, red pepper puree and capers, it had a refreshingly spicy edge.
For mains we had the roast monkfish tail, served with curried mussel sauce and smoked garlic oil; and the chargrilled 6oz fillet steak with garlic butter, roasted vine tomato and fries.
The monkfish seemed like a novel choice, deviating somewhat from the overall Italian theme, but worthy of inclusion on the menu. A rich but not overdone sauce and fresh mussels made this dish. We were informed it was one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes, which vindicated my choice somewhat.
Steak is always a good measure of any restaurant, I think – if you can get it right, you’re halfway towards winning my approval. Thankfully, as part of the Living Ventures brand, you can be sure Gusto knows exactly how to do steak. The fries, too, were very good and packed full of flavour.
Neither of us opted for sides, because we were planning on eating a full three courses, but it’s worth noting that most of the dishes (except, for instance, the steaks) come without sides, so you may need to order some – especially if you’re only having mains.
For dessert we tried summer berry and prosecco jelly with tropical fruit salsa and Eton mess ice cream; and the warm chocolate and hazelnut brownie, served with pistachio ice cream and hot chocolate sauce. The jelly was light and just sweet enough, paired well with the indulgent Eton mess ice cream. The brownie, meanwhile, was a wholesome delight with sticky chocolate sauce and rich pistachio ice cream.
The hotel’s wine list presents a tasty selection with some unusual additions, so you’re guaranteed to find a good fit for your food. But it’s the cocktails where Gusto really shines. There’s a range of spritzes, a range of martinis, long cocktails, short cocktails, prosecco cocktails and even virgin cocktails for the designated driver. With the Art Deco flourishes and the swinging ambience, Gusto reflects the Prohibition Era that birthed the fabulous art of mixology. It does this so well that it practically demands you bring your friends for a pre-dance tipple!
For lunchtime diners, there’s an offer of an alcoholic drink and one course for £12.50, available until 5pm on weekdays. Earlybird diners can also take advantage of a starter, main and spritz cocktail for £19.95, even at weekends.
Gusto Manchester is, without a doubt, one of Living Ventures’ crowning glories, and a great choice for dinner with friends or a date. The delightful combination of luxurious surroundings, fantastic food and sharp service get the thumbs up from us!
Gusto, 4 Lloyd Street (off Deansgate), Manchester M2 5AB
N.B.: You can now order Gusto to your home with Deliveroo.