Walk along Colmore Row and you will now notice the beautiful Grand Hotel, cleaned and under-going refurbishment. There is now a coffee shop, bike shop, bar and, at the end, Gusto.
Gusto is a chain of smart, modern Italian restaurants from the same people as The Botanist and The Alchemist. As you walk in there is a lovely bar, decorated in white and gold, with trees covered in fairy lights.
I went along to a special blogger evening where a group of us tried some of their cocktails and ate from their early evening menu.
The bar is a lovely area to meet friends and chat over olives and cocktails.
We tried a variety of cocktails, all twists on classics but done well. They were certainly crowd-pleasers but not too sweet. Think bellinis, long, refreshing drinks and fruity short drinks. The Elderflower Negroni was popular with the group. My favourite was the Honey Rose, made with whisky, vermouth, Drambuie, apricot and orange bitters.
We took our drinks through to the busy restaurant area, decorated in a similar way to the bar.
The early dining menu is £19.95 and gets you a spritz cocktail, a starter and a main. The menu isn't huge and I am not sure what the arrangements are for those with dietary requirements. However, for lucky folks like me, there were enough options.
For the starter, you can choose from smoked salmon, duck or tomato bruschetta. I wouldn't usually choose bruschetta on a menu; I get distracted by prawns or similar. Sometimes it's nice to have the choice taken away! I chose smoked salmon. The salmon was a lovely quality and I enjoyed the cream cheese underneath.
Edd chose the duck, which was more elegantly plated than mine. We swapped one and the duck was lovely and well cooked.
For mains, there were more options, including a burger, several pizzas and pasta. I don't care for pasta too much and I didn't feel like pizza or a burger. I was tempted with a duck salad but I decided to go for pan fried sea bass.
Fish is a good way to check the cooking standard at a restaurant and I'm pleased to say the fish was cooked perfectly, with the crispy skin I'm always trying to emulate at home! This was simple but satisfying. I enjoyed the potatoes, the shredded vegetables hiding under the fish. I just wanted more of the tangy tomato sauce you can see round the outside.
Edd went double-duck and had the Peking Pizza, with duck and spring onions. A thin pizza, with good quality toppings.
Emily, who I was sat next to had a pizza also and you can check out her blog to see how she got on.
We finished with a sharer dessert of fruit and cakey bits to dip into a rich chocolate sauce. I like things like this but I did feel the chocolate sauce should have been thicker for dipping. This isn't on the early dining menu and would have to be paid for separately.
I enjoyed my meal at Gusto, though I wasn't over-whelmed. I think the early dining menu is a good bargain but, looking at the main menu, I think that's where the magic happens. My food was good quality and well cooked but I am looking forward to heading back to more from the menu before really making my mind up.
It's a lovely atmosphere and the staff were all friendly (this is hard to judge at a blogger event). Thanks to Gusto for having us.
Gusto, Colmore Row
Photos by Helen and Edd
Food and drink were complimentary for review purposes