Edinburgh’s George Street used to be packed to the gunwales with financial institutions, assorted offices, and very little else. It had three drinking establishments (Madogs, Styx, and upstairs in TG Willis, the butchers), as well as a couple of hotel bars. Today, the offices have moved out to cheaper, business park locations, the banks have been converted in to pubs, and George Street is one of the beating hearts of Edinburgh’s nightlife.At the west end of the thoroughfare is Gusto, part of a small chain of Italian restaurants, with nine locations across the UK. It’s a place I’ve visited before, mainly due to the fact that a couple of my friends really rate their steaks. On this occasion, our focus was pizza, to fortify us for a hard evening of karaoke action in the nearby (a pleasure palace that’s a sort of melding of karaoke, school cleaning smells, and Laser Quest).
Fiona and I arrived a little promptly, so took small libation in the bar. It was lovely to be greeted with a friendly “good evening, Mr Lunchquest” from a familiar face, in the shape of one of the waiters that used to ply his trade at The Mulroy. He’s off to New York, next week, to start an exciting new chapter in his life, so all best wishes to you, sir!
We were soon joined by Mary, Susie and Tracey, and once greetings had been exchanged we were shown to a nice booth table, towards the rear of the ground floor. It was nice to see the place busy, presumably surfing the wave of Friday evening post-work jollity.
We ordered some pink wine, then turned our attention to the menu. Given my grim lunchtime soup experience, I was keen to banish that from the memory, so I ordered the sweet potato soup, while the others ordered olives and other nibbles to share.Now, MJ will call me a complete lightweight, but I found it a little spicy for my palette. I liked the toasted fennel seeds on the top, as they gave a nice textural variance. The soup had good flavour and a lovely smooth consistency, but a notch or two lighter on the spicing would have played much better with me.
Our main courses soon arrived. Susie opted for a burger, which looked good. Tracey chose risotto, which she reported was very tasty, although it looked a little on the dry side for my tastes. Fiona, Mary and I opted for pizzas. Mary did a clever half and half thing, with the duck half attracting particular praise. My Florentina, which is a regular pizza order for me, as I do like a nice egg topping.
I was very pleased with it, I have to say. The egg was nicely soft, the goat’s cheese tangy, and the pizza base thin and crisp. It wasn’t up to the standards of La Favorita, but it was very good and certainly worthy of a repeat ordering.
As we had a karaoke booking to make, we scarpered quite smartly after we’d finished our main courses.
Overall, I was impressed with Gusto. It’s a smart and slick operation, which did us very nicely for our purposes. They have some good value options for online booking this month, too (in fact, there are so many good January offers, I think I’ll put together a separate little post about that, in the next few day), so if you’re looking for a nice, relaxed, informal meal, I think Gusto will provide this to you, very reliably.
Blythe scores Gusto:
4/5 for food
3/5 for presentation
3.5/5 for setting
3.5/5 for service
Giving an overall 14/20
Today’s late lunch questers were: Fiona, Mary, Susie, Blythe, Tracey
We ate: olives, dough petals, roasted sweet potato soup, pizzas, burger, risotto
We drank: rose wine, lager, g&t, water
We wore: lightweight karaoke action suits
Total bill: c.£110