Enjoyable evening at George St’s Gusto

The bars and restaurants along Edinburgh’s George St are the closest Edinburgh has to the ‘continental cafe’ culture. On a nice evening, such as last Thursday, George St’s pavement cafes are guaranteed to be busy. The high rents for the large premises along George St probably goes some way to explaining why most of the outfits here belong to chains - Browns, Tigerlily from the Montpelier Group, The Ivory Lounge and The Living Room to name a few. Gusto, an Italian word for vigorous enjoyment, as in eating and drinking, is the chain we chose for impromptu food and drinks after visiting the John Lennon Art exhibition in the nearby Dome.

Selection of Italian breads at Gusto, George St, Edinburgh Peking pizza at Edinburgh's Gusto on George St

The popularity of Gusto was perfectly represented by the electronic table waiting device the suited gent on the door gave us, when we turned up unannounced. Before it burst into a vibrating and flashing life we managed to order a pint of Moretti (¬£3.50) and a glass of Prosecco (¬£5) from the bar at the front of Gusto. Gusto’s bar is nicely lit, high on atmosphere and with good service to match it’s a fine place to enjoy a drink while watching the crowds on George St.

The restaurant area of Gusto is spit level and has a hefty capacity. The size was not at the expense of service, which was brisk, but warm and friendly throughout the evening. Gusto’s menu is available online and is the same throughout all eight of their UK restaurants. The menu is large and split between starters, salads, pasta & risotto, meat, seafood and sides. Pizzas, pasta and risotto are around the ¬£8/¬£9 mark, while more substantive mains range from a beef burger at just under ¬£11 to lobster at ¬£35. The pricing is typical of what you’d expect from a restaurant on George St.

There’s little hope of complementary bread in this part of town, so for starter we shared Italian breads at ¬£3.25. The olive oil and balsamic vinegar accompaniment prepared at our table was a nice touch and the bread sticks were perfect to nibble on while talking.

My peking duck pizza (¬£9.50), had an authentic taste and it resembled a gargantuan duck pancake. The swathes of hoisin sauce, while having the taste, might unsettle all but the most battle hardened of tummies. The kitchen well and truly nailed my dining partner’s mushroom risotto, which was full of flavour and perfectly textured. The plentiful wild mushrooms in it were delicious. A small rocket and parmesan salad as a side (¬£3.75) bumps the cost of a meal up, but it was pleasant nonetheless.

Through our close, but comfortable, proximity to other diners I was impressed by the appearance of Gusto’s chargrilled steak and, even though we opted against dessert, Gusto’s tiramisu looked worth a try.

Chain restaurants aren’t usually my forte, but our visit identified Gusto as a slick and quality operator. What restaurants like Gusto do have is atmosphere and a buzz about them. To eat exclusively along the restaurants of George St would be a little sad given Edinburgh’s wonderfully varied offerings, but on this evidence a trip every now and again is well worth your while.

Gusto is located at 135 George St, Edinburgh, EH2 4JH
Tel: 0131 225 2555

Gusto replaced the Est Est Est restaurant.

2 Responses to “Enjoyable evening at George St’s Gusto”

  1. I really don’t rate Gusto highly at all. Your quite right talking about high rents on George Street, so Gusto must be something right, or doing something wrong that no-one cares notices…

    I find electronic waiting devices something of an insult. They are throttled into your hand and leave you feeling like another item on the generic money making conveyer-belt.

    I think Gusto is an insult to any honest Italian run restaurant in Edinburgh. If you wanted good, hearty, inspiring Italian food; The Patio on Fredrick Street was my personal choice. For years it provided a modest but authentic dining experience. Unfortunately the owners have retired and the lease appears to have been acquired by the same people behind Bar Napoli and Grand Cru. I visited ‘The New Patio’ on day one and well, lets not go there…

  2. Hi William,

    Thank you for your comments - at Gusto we take all customer feedback seriously whether it is sent directly to us or through websites such as this.

    In general we use buzzers only during our busiest periods, for example on a Saturday night, for guests who haven’t reserved a table but have popped in on the off-chance we will have one available. We have always found that most guests find these a reassurance, and I can assure you they are not intended to be in any way insulting. I can understand that this is an electronic device, however we do employ friendly hosts who look after guests waiting in the bar for a table, the buzzer is merely to aid the process of finding a table for our guests in our busy restaurant!

    I cannot comment on The Patio, or its successor The New Patio, however speaking on behalf of Gusto, as an Italian-influenced restaurant we do make every effort to ensure the freshest of produce is cooked in the traditional Italian way. Our development chef is Italian, and is responsible for designing our menus. He takes his team of chefs over to Italy on a regular basis to ensure that they are immersed in the cooking techniques and foods. Our pizza dough is made fresh on the premises every day, to a recipe from a Tuscan monk called Palom, interestingly enough!

    I do hope that this feedback will reassure you about the authenticity of your experience at Gusto on George Street, and that you will return to visit us again.

    Kind regards

    Gillian Myles c/o GUSTO Restaurant & Bar
    edinburgh@gustorestaurants.uk.com

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