A sense of oc­ca­sion

The pri­vate din­ing room at Gusto on Deans­gate in Manch­ester city cen­tre is the per­fect place for a cel­e­bra­tion Cheshire Life: April 2019 Cheshire Life: April 2019

Cheshire Life - - Food & Drink - Janet Reeder

When I was much younger the ‘pri­vate din­ing room’ was a place oc­cu­pied by Mafia heads who wanted to break the fin­gers of a ri­val boss, or a wealthy sugar daddy out to se­duce a young girl. Well this is what they were used for when I saw them on the TV. They were usu­ally fes­tooned with red vel­vet drapes and had a deca­dent vibe.

Fast for­ward to now and the pri­vate din­ing room has be­come a must-have in many a large restau­rant, des­ig­nated as spa­ces to keep hens and stags out of shriek­ing dis­tance of reg­u­lar din­ers or for fam­i­lies brought to­gether for a spe­cial oc­ca­sion, they are a per­ma­nent fix­ture on the din­ing scene.

Gusto has been open on Deans­gate for nearly four years now and has lost none of its charm. The de­sign has re­tained

the sense of be­ing fab­u­lous, thanks to the grand-is­land bar and spe­cial dis­creet seat­ing ar­eas.

The bar here is bril­liant but we were here for a spe­cial oc­ca­sion so headed through the restau­rant to the very back where the open kitchen lives. Up a few steps and through the se­cret door and there we were in our own pri­vate din­ing room with no Mafia boss or sugar daddy in sight.

It’s a lovely look­ing room with a win­dow look­ing out onto Lloyd Street. A cou­ple of bot­tles of bub­bly awaited in a cham­pagne bucket at the cor­ner of a ta­ble filled with flutes, dress­ing for the oc­ca­sion had never felt more ap­pro­pri­ate.

The oc­ca­sion was Louise Tay­lor’s last sup­per as Cheshire Life ed­i­tor, and we wanted her to bow out in style. Af­ter catch­ing up over drinks and canapés, we gath­ered around a large square ta­ble il­lu­mi­nated over­head by an al­most as large square pen­dant light. The white table­cloth and can­dles made the space feel el­e­gant and smart.

Matthew our waiter made sure glasses were charged with Sau­vi­gnon Blanc and took our or­ders. That’s another great thing about hav­ing a pri­vate din­ing room, hav­ing your own des­ig­nated wait­ing staff, at­ten­tive but not in­tru­sive.

The spe­cial oc­ca­sion menu at £40 a head in­cludes one starter, main course and pud­ding but there were nib­bles such as olives, smoked al­monds, cheese and truf­fle crispy ravi­oli and dough petals with tomato crispy shal­lots and romesco may­on­naise dip to keep hunger at bay.

El­e­gantly Ital­ian is how the menu is de­scribed and there are some real crowd-pleasers on the menu in­clud­ing starters of a Mi­lanese saf­fron risotto that’s soft and creamy, sweet king prawns ac­com­pa­nied by the tang of pick­led fen­nel, toma­toes and ca­pers and Mi­lanese style meat­balls that have a lit­tle kick of chilli to liven the pal­ette.

Tra­di­tion­al­ists were catered for with West Coun­try rib eye steak with gar­lic but­ter, rocket, sun dried toma­toes and fries and they were im­pressed by the spot on cook­ing of the meat, honey glazed duck and bal­samic came with cav­alo nero an a de­li­ciously creamy mash and the oven roasted cau­li­flower steak was a real win­ner el­e­vated by al­monds and seeds and a deeply sweet tomato coulis.

There was tuna steak and a pan roast rump of lamb that was ac­com­pa­nied by a pow­er­ful side of truf­fled canellini beans and a lightly fried po­lenta.

Desserts in­cluded home­made Gusto tiramisu that had us won­der­ing what the ‘se­cret recipe’ was, a gor­geously sticky brownie served with salted caramel ice cream and a cheese board filled with gen­er­ous por­tions of smoked pro­vola, goat’s cheese and dol­celatte, crack­ers, honey, wal­nuts and cel­ery.

What­ever the oc­ca­sion, your pri­vate din­ing room makes it that bit more spe­cial Gusto Manch­ester, 4 Lloyd Street, Manch­ester M2 5AB. 0161 832 2866, gu­s­torestau­rants.uk.com

“Up a few steps and through the se­cret door and there we were in our own pri­vate din­ing room” eatcheshir­e

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