I’m a creature of habit when it comes to Leeds. I can either be found in the city centre, Headingley or Meanwood – on very rare occasions I can also be spotted in Chapel Allerton. I’ve never really explored Leeds (bad resident) so people are often greeted with my blank face if they talk about anywhere other than the aforementioned. Hence why when I got invited to try out Gusto in Cookridge my first move was to Google Map it. Turns out Cookridge is but a few mins up the road from me!
We drove over one Thursday eve and were greeted with a restaurant that was lit up entirely by twinkly fairy lights. Inside was just as lovely. Modern with dark woods and leather, a very chilled out atmosphere with couples and friends dining.
We were there to sample the new dishes on the menu which the waitress talked as though before we ordered drinks. Now, this may shock you readers…I’m teetotal currently (mostly because I colossally failed at the 5:2 diet again and something had to give for the next few weeks) so I went for one of the mocktails. I had the Strawberry Kiss (£4) which was strawberry puree, fresh raspberries & banana mixed with orange juice. It was refreshing however definitely would have been better with a shot of rum…
For starters I had the Chicken Liver & Pickled Mushroom Bruschetta (£4.95) and P had the Fritto Misto (£6.50). My bruschetta was very tasty, the rich chicken livers worked well with the sharp pickled mushrooms and sweet, acidic balsamic vinegar. It was quite a sizable portion (and I can’t eat that much liver, although I like the taste the texture gets me after a while) so P finished it off. He wasn’t as keen though as he didn’t like the sweetness of the dish.
P’s Fritto Misto was a combination of fried sardine, squid and prawn on polenta. The sardine and prawns were cooked well, however the squid was a tad over done. Regardless it was still a tasty dish and the presentation was great, I barely got a look in whilst P wolfed it down.
For our main course I went for the Roast Chicken Breast with Creamed Leeks and Butter Fried Gnocchi (£13.50). My chicken breast was slightly on the dry side however breast always is for me, I’m a leg girl. The skin was amazing though; crunchy & salty – I could have eaten a whole chicken’s worth of it easily. The leeks were rich and creamy, perfect to quash any dryness of the chicken but needed a pinch of salt (I didn’t notice the salt & pepper on the table until too late). The gnocchi were my favourite, I’ve seen Nigella do something similar where she roasts them to make ickle mini roast potatoes. Crunchy on the outside and light in the inside, and oh so buttery – delicious!
For his main, P chose the Oven Baked Gnocchi (£9.95) which was a huge dish filled with gnocchi in a rich tomato sauce with chestnuts, caramelised onions and spicy salami. Probably not something I’d order (too stodgetastic for me) but proper comfort food and I liked the addition of the chestnuts.
We also shared sides of Roast Butternut Squash with Sage (£3.25) and Balsamic Roasted Beetroot with Rosemary (£3.25). Both were delicious however I preferred the Butternut Squash, it was deliciously soft and buttery.
Seeing as I had a big booze shaped hole in my belly I decided the best option would be to fill it with dessert…obviously. We decided to share the Nutella and Mascarpone Calzone (£5.95) and the Bombolini (£4.95). The Bombolini were little doughnuts covered in sugar with a chocolate sauce and whipped cream. I absolutely adore sugared doughnuts (they remind me of the seaside) and these were hot out of the fryer, perfect!
The calzone wasn’t what I expected (mostly because I’d got my Italian a bit confused and thought we were getting cannoli) however I was very pleasantly surprised! The dough was perfectly cooked and it was filled to the brim with melted Nutella & mascarpone. I’m not ashamed to admit that me and P fought over this one. I, of course won and got the final bite.
Dessert was definitely my favourite course overall, the starters and mains were good however there were a couple of things that needed tweaking for them to be spot on.
I’d like to go back as I’ve heard a lot of good things about their cocktails, and spied the Christmas additions whilst I was there – hello Mochatini (vanilla vodka, chocolate liqueur, vanilla syrup, chocolate puree & espresso) and Roast Hazelnut Toddy! The service was also great throughout our visit; attentive without being overbearing.
All in all, not bad for an Italian just down the road!
This meal was complimentary, views are my own though.