I’VE ALWAYS AVOIDED eating on George Street since moving to Edinburgh, mainly because previous outings have led me to conclude that you pay a high price for nothing especially … well, special. I genuinely swithered about accepting an invite to Gusto but thought I’d take a punt; you never know – previous perceptions can be proved wrong.
I decided to order lemon risotto with crab and lobster dressing (£6.95) for the starter. The first glance filled me with confidence that the rice was cooked al dente - it was – and the initial taste brought positive feedback: subtle hums of lemon, sweet crab, and a peppery bite from the rocket. It was a decent enough dish, but a whack of salt and a herb oil or another layer of flavour would have prevented that monotone feeling that can come with a dish of this style setting in.
Sarah’s introduction to dining Gusto-style was in the form of tiger prawns in a garlic, tomato and cream sauce with grilled ciabatta (£7.50). I had expected plump shell-on prawns ready to make a mess of her pretty white dress as she tore them apart, but what came was a suspiciously hot bowl with a few, most likely frozen, prawns that, to be fair, were sufficiently tender but failed to fulfil expectations. The sauce reminded me of some generic takeaway offering; the less said about it the better.
For the main course, I picked a six-bone rack of lamb with pea puree and minted onions at a whopping £29.75, plus a side order of rosemary and garlic potatoes for £3.45. Where do I start? This strange, spaced-aged plate is blithely put in front of me with two chunks of uncarved meat. Who sends out a rack of lamb for the customer to carve? Does carving require another tenner on the price or something? I asked for rare lamb but find the first rack overcooked, although not chewy; the second was a better offering, sporting a more desired shade of pink. The puree was fresh and those minted onions were an undoubted high point. The rosemary potatoes were cooked competently enough, though found wanting in the seasoning department. The dish cried out for a rich jus to bind it together, but I just couldn’t enjoy it because I was so irate with the lamb.
Sarah was a little more fortunate with her course of baked fillet of sea bass with roasted peperonata and lemon puree (£17.95), which also required a side in the guise of asparagus with red pepper oil (£5.95). The fish was soft and juicy with the peperonta respectfully executed to give textural enhancements to the plate, with the lemon oil offering a citrus burst to a dish that was enjoyable, but lacking in seasoning. The side of asparagus brought an earthy woodiness to the floor and was cooked just about perfectly, with the red pepper part working in tandem with the fish.
For dessert I went for a baked Alaska (£7.50), something that ticks all the boxes of a dessert I should like, but that all previous attempts have failed to deliver. Unfortunately, this effort didn’t buck the trend. Gavin set the liquor alight, bringing the desired theatrics, but the dish was far too sweet and lacked sufficient amounts of ice cream in the centre to calm the booziness. The meringue failed to achieve the desired crispness on the outside, and while you could enjoy the tart cherry element to begin with, the sweetness became further amplified on your palate; there was no chance of finishing this as a result.
Sarah selected Nutella and mascarpone calzone with vanilla ice cream for £5.95. She really enjoyed the filling but found it just too rich and overly sweet, much like my pudding. In the words of Forrest Gump, “that’s all I have to say about that.”
Phone: (0131) 225 2555
Address: 125 George Street,
Opening times: Sun-Thurs 12:00 - 22:30
Fri and Sat 12:00 - 23:00