March 19th, 2014

A sibling date: Gusto, Knutsford

By Charlotte Louise Taylor

So, after I was born, my parents enjoyed almost three glorious years, and then he arrived. Yes. My little brother. James.

I'm 26 and he's 23. And while that isn't the largest of age gaps, he's at such a different point in his life to me, and sometimes (only sometimes) I miss those days of being his hero, and dangling action men out of his bedroom window and accidentally-on-purpose aiming for the fish pond below.

But last night, we had a sibling date. At Gusto in Knutsford.

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Yes ladies. Calm yourselves. He is single. And is also free to model restaurants, provided he gets a free meal.

A sibling date: Gusto, Knutsford

The first thing we noticed, as we were shown our table, gabbing away, was just how pretty it was. Fairy lights. Warm, low lighting, and plenty of space between tables. It was pretty perfect.

We perused the menus and listened to the wonderful staff sing happy birthday to a child on a neighbouring table. Children were welcomed but the place still had some calm and class about it, which I liked. I'm a big believer of getting little ones used to restaurants and, as a result, William is brilliant when he eats out, and I feel comforted knowing that I could take him somewhere like this and not feel embarrassed.

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The staff were so attentive, and not just to us, as we were special guests. They were so eager to get you feeling comfortable and they went above and beyond with suggestions and advice.

While we browsed the menu - which left us taking ages to decide as it was so hard to pick just one thing - we munched on a half-and-half garlic pizza bread. One half with rosemary and sea salt (my choice and as brilliant as it sounds) and the other, tomato and basil (James' choice and sweet and fresh). I left most of the bread to James as I knew I'd need to save room for what was coming next.

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We decided, as we don't often wine and dine together, that we'd go all out with this meal. So we extended our starters from garlic bread into Tiger Prawns with a Garlic, Tomato and Cream Sauce, and Deep Fried Crispy Flatcap and Oyster Mushrooms with a Truffled Mayonnaise.

I am quite possibly obsessed with mushrooms, so this was just the most perfect starter for me. The crispy coating was so delicate, with such a satisfying crunch. And the mayonnaise took me into funghi heaven. I couldn't manage them all (all of this healthy eating has shrunk my appetite massively), so again, my brute of a brother was there to polish them off.

James demolished the tiger prawns, which were served with some toasted sourdough. The sauce was creamy and garlicky and there were plenty of prawns to be had, which is a rarity in most restaurants.

While we waited for our main courses to cook. We chatted and really caught up. I got to tell James about my job properly, and vice versa, and we weren't interrupted by other family members, which was nice. We discussed relationships. Mine. His. And I taught him a bit about my DSLR and let him have the pleasure of snapping me for a change.

It was nice to enjoy his company and understand that, really, he's not so little anymore. He could be jet-setting around the world soon, so I'm going to enjoy his company while it's freely available.

We really struggled to decide on a main course each. Admittedly I could have easily sampled the entire menu. But I settled for roast chicken and salsa verde with polenta chips and a tomato and red wine sauce. It was beautiful. The chicken was moist and the polenta chips were just incredible. They felt lighter than a normal chip and crisper with a fluffy, pillowy centre. I reluctantly shared it all with that brother of mine too.

He, on the other hand, had Rigatoni Primavera, with chicken, butternut squash, celeriac, carrot, cabbage, green beans, pine nuts and cream. This was so fresh and tasted like Spring and I loved the idea of adding fresh vegetables to a pasta dish in this way. I'd never of though to pair cabbage with rigatoni, but it worked.

Ah, how could we forget the drinks? We started off with a coke and a ginger beer, but a sneaky waiter friend of ours told us it was buy-one-get-one-free on cocktails before seven, so naturally we obliged.

I had the Long Island Iced Tea, which was refreshing and addictive. James went for The Godfather, after asking what cocktail made the most of Bourbon (like brother, like sister - it's both of our favourite tipple of choice). I actually wish I'd got the same as him, as it was practically neat, on the rocks, and just how I like my cocktails.

Something about my brother turns me into a right dafty. He makes me laugh and I simply adore winding him up, as every big sister should.

By this point I was stuffed to bursting. And the idea of dessert made me worry for my waistline and my ability to breathe.

I plumped for a Bourbon & Gingerbread Toddy as a nightcap, which was clean, warm and cleansing. Whereas James went for the signature Nutella and mascopone calzone, which was served with creamy vanilla ice cream. All I could think of was James and his obsession with Nutella as a child and it made me smile. He let me sample a mouthful, while I praised the Lord for the invention known as leggings. No tight waistbands for me.

It was one of the nicest evenings I've had with James in a long time. Sometimes, I see him as my too-cool-for-me baby brother, and I imagine he sees me as his boring, mummy sister. But the truth is, we're family.

And a family that eats together...

Well, that's a family that's happy isn't it?

If you are around these parts (good old Cheshire) you may already know of a few Gusto restaurants. There's also one in Liverpool, Edinburgh and Newcastle too. I would definitely recommend you grab your sibling, or even mum (don't forget it's Mother's Day in two weeks or so) and enjoy yourself. With cocktails and a shed-load of food, our meal came to just £60.00, which, considering how brilliant the food was, is something I would gladly pay again.

*We were invited to Gusto in Knutsford as guests for the purpose of the review. But I do love my brother lots, and I like to wind him up too. As you can see here. I also love Gusto's food a lot too. Possibly more. Shh, don't tell James.

 

Tags: Blog, Charlotte Louise Taylor, Gusto
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GUSTO ~ Restaurant and Bar: Italian for taste and enjoyment
Inspired by the elegant charm of a classic Italian ristorante with a contemporary buzz and a modern, stylish interior, GUSTO brings the true "taste and enjoyment" of Italy to our guests.

GUSTO - it's all a matter of taste!