November 14, 2011 Closed, Italian, New Town, seafood 4 Comments
Inside the stylish restaurant

MJ’s Verdict

On Sunday I was gently coerced into going to Locanda de Gusti. I say coerced because I had a moment of panic where I needed to finish some work and cancelled all my plans on Sunday. But then I came to my senses and realised that I needed a break and that I have really wanted to try this place ever since I walked past a few weeks ago after the cocktail tasting night. I do, after all, LOVE Italian food. So after a nice run to calm down, and a bit of editorial work, I took the bus to the top of Leith Walk and wandered down Broughton Street, where I ran into a few of our friends.

We went into the restaurant and were seated at a large table near the door. The restaurant is stylish and sleek and, oddly, we were the only people inside…and remained the only table for the entire 2 hours we were there.

Once everyone arrived (there were 8 of us) we ordered a bottle of the special wine, a Montepulciano  with a nice deep aubergine colour, and made our rounds of orders. I, and several of us, had the grilled vegetable skewer with olive oil and a ‘kiss of chili’ and the linguine with seafood. 



After we all had ordered, the waiter brought over a book. Yes, a book. A large book that he opened and was miraculously filled with these little, warm rolls that (dare I say) reminded me of the shape of the canned variety we can buy back home in the States, but it was decently tasty and the nice trio of wee bowls with olives, roasted peppers (or tomatoes, I couldn’t actually tell), and pesto made the a nice addition. I appreciate the giant bowl of olive oil with a dollop of sunken balsamic, but it was so far down into the oil that to try to get the balsamic would be to completely saturate the bread. And it didn’t look like we were getting any more bread.



bread with touch of pesto

Soon after the starters arrived. My vegetable skewers were pretty. The plate was decorated with reduced balsamic and the ‘kiss of chili’ was no more than a trail of sweet chili sauce drizzled over the top of the veggies. The veggies themselves were good, simply grilled and standard fare. But the sweet chili sauce threw me off. Not that it was bad, it was just from the wrong cuisine (in my mind). I gave the pretty stuffed and fried courgette flowers to B, who said they were tasty. The one thing that really made me wonder about the dish was the specks of yellow sauce around the edge of the plate. It was utterly tasteless-neither good nor bad.

Grilled veggies with courgette flowers

Grilled cheese? (I forget)
I believe that everyone enjoyed their starters, the cold meats and melon down at the far end of the table looked really impressive, but I couldn’t help but notice the waiters hovering, waiting like hawks to take away the plates. No sooner did the last fork fall did the waiter swoop in to take away the plate, asking if she was finished, as he reached for it. If she had said ‘no’, I’m not sure that he would have left it.

The mains arrived before long and they looked impressive. My plate of linguine had a large prawn and langoustine with some mussels and other things. I was happy. Looking around the table and waving my langoustine’s arm, I decided that I had chosen well. I began by strategically removing all the shells from the shellfish and then stripping my langoustine before digging in. It was good. The tomatoey sauce was rich and was filled with good quality tomatoes. It was just the right amount as well and before long, I was full.

linguine pescatora
different angle on my linguine

We were not asked what we wanted for dessert. We were simply brought plates of a rich, dense polenta (we think) cake that B liked enough to eat mine as well (he had just walked for hours). We were asked what sort of coffee we would take and the majority of us ordered espressos and our waiter whisked away to make them.

Cake!!!
Once we were all finished, the waiters whisked in and took away everything, very quickly…but oddly, I had to ask for the bill. Overall, the place is stylish, but the weird way that the servers leaned over everyone, and handed out and picked up dishes in the most odd-reaching fashion was unusual, to say the least. But the food was good, though I cannot forgive the sweet chili sauce on my veggies, and I was pleased with the linguini. And all for the bargain price of £15.00 (without the wine), I’d say it was a good way to spend a Sunday afternoon break from work. But next time, I’d want to not be the only table in the place, I think that might have been the sole contribution to the hovering. Next time I return, it will be on a Friday or Saturday night.  

Blythe’s Verdict
I’ve heard nothing but good things about Locanda de Gusti. John, who joined us to review The Mulroy, rated it very highly when he visited a couple of months ago. Regular quester Gary also rated it, particularly the generosity of the portions, when he visited. So, I was full of high expectations for today’s visit.

We were joined by a whole host of friends and luminaries, today. Iain and Aileen hadn’t quested since Spoon, back in August. Michael and Malcolm joined us at Hongfu Noodle Bar, just recently. Mel is part of the Union of Genius appreciation society. And Clear-Minded Creative Milo, hadn’t joined us since Mithas, the undoubted high-point of our questing, so far.

I arrived to find the immaculately punctual MJ ensconced in a window table, accompanied by Mel and Milo. We were soon joined my Michael and Malcolm, then Iain and Aileen arrived, and the ordering could begin.

For Sunday lunch, Locanda runs a four course set menu for £14.95. You can choose from four options for starter and main, then dessert is the chef’s selection, with a choice of coffees/teas rounding things out.

Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar

Rather strangely, we had the place entirely to ourselves, today. This made for a slightly awkward experience, at times. I’m not sure we saw the place at its absolute best, as at least part of the joy of Italian restaurants is the noise of lively discussion coming from all sides. On the upside it gave us a good look at the stylish setting, unencumbered by throngs of people, but I think a return visit on a busier day might be a worthwhile venture.

trio of samplers served with the Book-bread
I digress. I opted for soup, which was lentil and bean, followed by the fish of the day, which was skate wings.

I enjoyed the soup, but the other starters outshone it, I think. As MJ eschews the fried food, I was the grateful recipient of some extremely tasty fried courgette flowers, from her marvellously titled starter: spiendino di verdure grigliate servito con olio extra vergine d’oliva e fiori de zucca e dip al peperoncino. Michael’s baked cheese looked excellent, as did the mixed cured meats and cheese.

Bean and Lentil soup

Grilled Veggies and courgette flowers

Meats and melon starter


The linguine pescatora proved the most popular main course. It looked very tasty, but it’s a dish where I would have enjoyed the seafood, but would have then proceeded to play with the linguine rather than actually eating it.

I was pleased to have opted for the skate, which was excellent. Served with aubergine and tomatoes, the fish was meaty, beautifully cooked, and plentiful. The little accompaniment of a few potatoes and concentrically circular veg was something of a curiosity, but it tasted good.

Skate-fish of the day

Side dishes for the Skate, potatoes and concentric veggies

Spider skate, spider skate!

The cake to follow was very sweet, the espresso finish very nice, and before we knew it we were munching chocolates and undertaking mental arithmetic.

cake!

Overall, Locanda de Gusti served us some impressive dishes. I don’t feel we caught it on its best day, but it still provided us with a very good lunch. I’ll be back for another visit, soon, and fully expect to be further impressed.

Scores

MJ scores Locanda de Gusti:
3/5 for food
4/5 for presentation
3/5 for service
4/5 for setting
giving an overall 14/20

Aileen scores Locanda de Gusti:
3/5 for food
4/5 for presentation
4/5 for service
4/5 for setting
giving an overall 15/20

Michael scores Locanda de Gusti:
4/5 for food
4/5 for presentation
3/5 for service
4/5 for setting
giving an overall 15/20

Mel scores Locanda de Gusti:
3/5 for food
4/5 for presentation
3.5/5 for service
4/5 for setting
giving an overall 14.5/20

Milo scores Locanda de Gusti:
3/5 for food
4/5 for presentation
3/5 for service
4/5 for setting
giving an overall 14/20

Malcolm scores Locanda de Gusti:
4/5 for food
5/5 for presentation
5/5 for service
4/5 for setting
giving an overall 18/20

Iain scores Locanda de Gusti:
4/5 for food
4/5 for presentation
4/5 for service
4/5 for setting
giving an overall 16/20

Blythe scores Locanda de Gusti:
3/5 for food
4/5 for presentation
3/5 for service
4/5 for setting
giving an overall 14/20

We ate: lentil and bean soup, baked provola, spiendino di verdure grigliate servito con olio extra vergine d’oliva e fiori de zucca e dip al peperoncino, cured meat and mozzarella, linguine pescatora, skate wings, cake

We drank: Ikebana chilled Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

We wore: grey jumpers (2), striped shirt, Polo polo polo shirt, blue jumper, petrol shirt, petrol tights, high-performance footwear.

Total bill: c.£160 (8 diners)

Locanda De Gusti on Urbanspoon
Written by TheDudley