I love the change in seasons. Yeah, I could do without the wind and the rain, but on cold crisp days, like yesterday and today, it’s hard not to love them a little.
After all, it’s the season for warm, soft and stodgy flavours. Roasts and gravy, rich soups, game and mashed potatoes – roasted butternut squash, and earthy lentils. And the cold is the perfect excuse to reach for the dessert menu.
Gusto in Manchester is the latest restaurant to take a leap into the crisp leaves of autumn and winter. The lighter flavours of spring and summer have been replaced with deeper, richer dishes like lamb Cacciatore, and slow cooked pork.
Sunday saw Mr GFB and I enjoy a lazy late lunch and try some of the dishes on the revised menu – the perfect way to enjoy these cosy dishes. After all, their Sunday menu is a bit of a bargain with two courses at £15.95.
I dove straight in to the comfort food with cauliflower soup. Rich, creamy, the crisp shallots gave it texture and the chilli oil made it warming – not spicy or hot, just a gentle tickle at the back of the palate. The foccacia was soft and fluffy – perfect for dunking, soaking up the soup like a sponge.
As the chicken liver pate was off the menu (it wasn’t ready yet), Mr GFB went for the butter laden creamed garlic mushrooms. Simple, but tasty served with toasted sourdough to mop up all that cream. It does occur to me that it’s perhaps a shame that more interesting mushrooms aren’t used in this dish rather than just the usual button mushrooms. Tasty though they are, there’s such a wealth of mushrooms available out there that something a little different might lift the dish.
For main, I had been torn, but I had finally settled on the cod, wrapped in Tuscan ham, and served on a bed of spiced pepperoni lentils. The lentils were nutty, earthy with a warm spice, a great foil for the salty ham and the softly cooked cod.
But even I must admit to feeling a little jealous of Mr GFB’s selection.
Fillet of pork ‘saltimbocca’ with crisp sage leaves, mashed potato and marsala sauce. The portion size was enviable, let alone the flavour of the tender, juicy pork and the buttery mash.
I know what I’m ordering next time.
I made up for it a little over dessert. The mint and basil panna cotta with softly stewed plums is a delicious take on a traditional dessert, and with just the right amount of wobble. I’m very appreciative of a little wobble.
And Mr GFB opted for a classic – the affogato.
Less a winter warmer, more soft stimulation, but it’s a classic for a reason. It’s bloody lovely.
Overall we had a lovely afternoon and Gusto’s autumn and winter menu is filled with all the flavours of the season.
And next time, I’m having the pork.
With thanks to Gusto for the invitation to sample the new menu.
This meal and accompanying drinks were supplied for free by Gusto. As ever, this doesn’t guarantee a positive review (if anything, I tend to be a harsher critic).
The food was lovely, and the service couldn’t be faulted.