Gusto 101 – Restaurant Review

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With a recent trip downtown and two hungry people (Arthi & I, in case you were wondering) in the mix, comes this post: a restaurant review. I’ve heard many good things about Gusto 101 and have walked past it many a times. However, I never really got past their neighbours, Jimmy’s Coffee; whom I probably should and therefore will, cover on the blog sometime soon. Needless to say, this has been a long time coming. Although we just grabbed a quick bite, I still wanted to share my thoughts on the apps and dessert that we indulged in. So without further ado, here we go!

Beef Tartare 
pumpkin apple purée, red wine, shallot compote

First off, I want to really shed light on the plating of this dish. It is beautiful. The colours are gorgeous, the use of space on the plate and how this dish was presented was extremely artistic. This was actually the case for all the plates we tried, as you’ll see throughout the rest of this review. But, back to the this dish now. The meat used in the tartare was incredibly flavourful and tender. It almost had a ‘melt in your mouth’ feel to it, which I can obviously slow clap for. The herbs incorporated in the tartare most definitely ‘did their thang’, so to speak. The pumpkin apple purée was delightful. I loved the burst of warm flavours that came with the consistently smooth texture of the purée. The crispy capers scattered on the plate definitely brought some sass to the dish. Downside: I was not a fan of the red wine and shallot compote for this particular dish. Hear me out, the shallot compote alone was incredible in its flavour profile. I personally just didn’t like it alongside the tartare. Because the tartare was so rich and decadent, I felt that the sweetness of the compote was a tad overbearing. I would have preferred to pair it with flavours that could cut through how heavy the rest of the flavours were.

grilled scallops, barley beet risotto, crispy capers

I actually really like scallops. Like…really like them. So needless to say, I am incredibly critical of any dish that incorporates one of my favourite ingredients. Hear me when I say, these scallops were as good as they looked. The cook on them was immaculate. The sear on them was beautiful, all the while remaining tender. I could go for a plateful of these scallops. Good on you Gusto 101, good on you. Now, the barley beet risotto. Negative. I was intrigued when I read the description on the menu for obvious reasons. However, I found it to be quite on dimensional. The juices from the scallops definitely helped out in this situation. As interesting as the risotto seemed, it was too bland for me. Ante up the seasoning?

beef tenderloin, truffled cannellini beans, baby kale, pecorino

Remember when I called myself a carpaccio connoisseur? Okay good. This carpaccio was actually really good – it’s one of the better carpaccios that I’ve had the pleasure of coming by. I would have never thought to pair this delicately sliced tenderloin with truffled cannellini beans. The flavours were incredibly fresh and went great with the baby kale. The pecorino brought a great and necessary sharpness to the flavour profile of this plate. This is great for the warmer months ahead of us. I thoroughly enjoyed this. I just wish they were a little more generous with the cheese. Regardless, this was my fave starter of the 3 that we tried.

mascarpone cream, pistachio, strawberries

I can appreciate a great tiramisu. This was not a great tiramisu. Perhaps it’s just me (& Arthi, ha). The mascarpone cream was extremely light and airy and this texture was consistent throughout the mixture. The pistachios and strawberries were an interesting set of flavours to incorporate into this dessert. The textures of all these components were great, however the mascarpone cream was a little low on the flavour. I believe there was vanilla bean in the mix as I saw the dark flecks and thought I tasted hints of it (maybe it was all in my head, not sure). If the flavour of the vanilla bean was more pronounced in the mascarpone cream, I’m sure I would have enjoyed this. However, I don’t think this should be called a tiramisu. I tasted no espresso whatsoever. It was more of a light mousse with nuts and strawberries. I think the complimentary lady finger dipped in chocolate was my favourite part of this dessert. Though I did not enjoy this, I can definitely appreciate the thought behind the dessert. If they do end up amping up the flavour of the cream, I would most definitely try it again.

Tortino al Cioccolato
gluten free chocolate cake, marmalade

This was decadent! Chocolate cakes are usually rich and decadent to begin with. However, the fact that this is a gluten free cake makes it that much more decadent. It’s not airy, just a whole lot of deep chocolate flavours. The marmalade really cut through this richness and brought a great tangy and fruity component to this dessert.  And of course, the whipped cream tied everything together. I just really want to say that I want to take a jar of this marmalade home…SO GOOD. This was amazing! I would have a million of these if I could!

coffee and orange scented panna cotta, garnished with an orange sugar tuille and fresh berries

Okay this…this was mind blowing. I was under the impression that I was ordering a mousse and then we got this, this thing of beauty. The texture was just so unbelievable. It was so smooth and airy but thick enough to leave an amazing aftertaste (in the best possible way) behind, making me want to go in for another bite (duh). The orange sugar tuille was actually a great touch. My mom used to actually make something similar to the tuille growing up, so it really brought me back to good times. I thoroughly enjoyed this dessert. I would have to say that this was my fave dessert of this outing with the ‘tortino al cioccolato’ coming in close second.

Overall Ratings

Food: 7.6/10
Well, this is the average of of the scores of the plates that we tried. Overall, the food was pretty good.  I love how meticulously every dish was plated; it shows passion in the work. I would definitely be interested in going back to try out their entrees and other items on this menu. With the expansion of their restaurant to a new location, I am actually interested to see if they have a new menu or make any changes to it. If you are looking for a cool and contemporary Italian spot in the city that really modernizes classics, I would recommend Gusto 101 for their food.

Drinks: n/a

Ambience: 10/10
Nestled smack dab in the middle of the fashion district, the view isn’t really scenic but the prime location does this establishment well. The decor is very laid back and chill with a good incorporation of modern and classy touches. The lighting is great. I love the clean industrial look. The set up of the restaurant is great as well. You have a clear view of the kitchen, which is always great.

Service: 3.5/10
Okay…here’s where the issues lie. I’m just going to throw it out there that I know I may seem very ‘nose in the air-y’ when I review restaurants. That’s because I take food seriously. To be able to feed someone is a gift. Do you know why? Food brings people together and soothes the soul. Take the art seriously or walk. End. Of. Story. When you have the ability to do that, have a great location, and clearly have a great kitchen, you are basically sitting on a gold mine.

Our server wasn’t bad…but her customer service skills could use some work. For one, I asked for a bigger table since the table she gave us was probably just enough for our glasses and a basket of bread. She was nice enough to give us a bigger table, and then went on to tell me that I could sit at that table as long as I left before 6 pm although I made it clear that we were coming in for a quick bite. You know what? Maybe people do that kind of thing, so I let it slide. Moving forward, it wasn’t busy at all and she did not provide very attentive service. Why? I will never know. But here comes this, I didn’t realize that she had left till another server started assisting us at which point I asked if he was now our server. Sign off with your tables girl, serving etiquette 101. I’m happy to announce that he did a much better job at attending to us.

When I write my reviews I always refer back to the menus for the description of the plates that I tried. This was a lesson to me to take pictures of the menus as not all restaurants  update their websites or are able to provide this information it seems. After countless phone calls that went unanswered and straight to a full voicemail I resorted to Twitter. The individual(s) running their Twitter account were very polite and got back to me in a very timely manner (much appreciated). The individual I was directed to contact however needs to drastically improve on their customer service skills. I asked for the description of the desserts. I received e-mails with paragraphs of everything but the answer to my question, twice. So I resorted back to Twitter to ask if they could simply send me a picture of their menu and they directed me back to the same e-mail address. When I respectfully declined and decided to just write this review on my own I received a very short and notably rude  e-mail, with the answers! Thanks, a lot. So here’s my suggestion, serving etiquette 101 for our initial server and e-mail etiquette 101 for this individual. As soon as possible.

See, I thought perhaps this was just an issue that I personally ran into. Maybe it was just an experience gone wrong for me. After reading other reviews I noticed that though they were very mixed, many were leaning on the negative side of the service scale. I really hope that something is done about this because Gusto 101 is truly a beautiful establishment with a wonderful menu and a great group of people in the kitchen. It’s a shame, really.

I mean, I’m personally not a fan of cloudy with a chance of sh-tty service. Would I go again after this experience? Surprisingly, my answer is yes. I’m quite curious to see the state of service from other servers on another given day. I would recommend this place for the food and ambience alone. However, if you actually value customer service at the places you dine at,well…hopefully you have better luck than I did during this given visit.




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