Published on October 3rd, 2014 | by Ultimate OmNoms0
Gusto at the Grand
Federal Street is famous with the line-up of award-winning eateries, especially after Masu swept up the coveted Restaurant of the Year after Depot Eatery in 2012. Gusto at the Grand takes over the atmosphere from former Dine by Peter Gordon, with sweeping chandeliers and grand paintings. Though there’s something ironic with the rustic Italian ambiance that Gusto is trying to achieve by donning their waiters in overalls whilst being surrounded by marbled walls.
With the menu designed by Sean Connolly, famous for his television series and The Grill next door, Connolly’s philosophy continues with his quest for simple food and letting fresh ingredients do the talking. I love the idea of sharing plates at Gusto, it’s the perfect excuse to nab at your partner’s food without seeming overly greedy.
Antipasto plate of our cured meats, grissini
Antipasto, which literally means “before the meal” is meant to stimulate your appetite before the main meal. With your expected salami, prosciutto and olives, one addition is the freshly shaved lardo. I wasn’t too excited about eating “lard” per say but it’s an acquired taste as you let the thin slices slowly dissolve in your mouth.
Fried calamari and prawns, lemon, aioli
The calamari and prawns were lightly seasoned without the weight of oily batter which makes it perfect to nibble at between mouthfuls of pasta or heavy meat. Apart from that, it was hardly memorable as the aioli was a bit bland and I found myself squeezing more lemon than necessary to jazz up the taste.
Wood–fired baby chicken, lemon, garlic, extra virgin olive oil
The baby chicken was one of the more memorable dishes – beautiful and tender. It was seasoned simply with lemon and garlic, and the freshness and honesty was comforting. Arguably, I should have expected more excitement at a prestige Skycity restaurant, but it was a good change from trying to figure out the myriad of ingredients and foams on fine-dining plates.
Gusto makes their pastas in-house and being an Italian restaurant, I couldn’t leave without trying at least one of their pastas. Personally this was the highlight of the meal with the ravioli being beautiful chewy and infused with flavour. Even with it filled with potato, it didn’t feel heavy or uncomfortable and I found myself easily reaching for seconds.
Lewis Road pannacotta, pine nuts, passion fruit
I’m a huge fan of Lewis Road butter and milk so this pannacotta was a must-have when I first saw it on the menu. When it came in a pool of dessert soup, I was a bit alarmed. The idea of a beautifully creamily formed pannacotta was knocked straight out of my head. In the midst of the creamy liquidness, I settled in to spoon up the pinenuts and passionfruit – which wasn’t all that bad, but I would have preferred my pannacotta pudding.
Warm chocolate pudding, pistachio gelato
It was as any good chocolate pudding should be – seductively warm and oozing in the centre with the ice cream to cool the heat of it on the tongue. The highlight was the pistachio gelato with the pistachio granules evident in every mouthful.
As with every Skycity restaurant, there are many expectations to be met. Gusto was highly raved about and there have been mixed reviews from diners. We did enjoy great service from the staff who were genuinely caring but professional. I felt the food bore a high price tag from what was offered, but if you are after simple and honest food with fresh ingredients and want a break from the white table cloth scene – give Gusto a go and let me know how you like it!
Address: 90 Federal St, Auckland City
Phone: (09) 363 7030