Italian sophistication and dining delight at Gusto Restaurant & Bar, Chislehurst
The Gusto Restaurant & Bar brand, synonymous with sophisticated yet affordable, Italian dining have (finally) ventured south, and luckily for us, have set up in an atmospheric and refined 19th-century building right here in Kent on Chislehurst’s culinary high street.
The former bank building is by far the most eye-catching in the parade, and the sympathetic and contemporary refurbishment has resulted in a modern and welcoming dining space.
At its heart The New York-style central bar, with its high, leather stools, brass fittings and dark wood finish, offers a range of expertly blended cocktails as well as a complimentary wine list; while the dining room, a combination of exposed brick, muted greens and banquette benches hosts diners from intimate tables of two to larger family groups.
Taking a seat at a well placed table for four, my guests and I were impressed by the menu, separated into easy sections: breads & nibbles, deli boards, starters, pasta & risotto, pizza, salads, mains and steaks, as well as an extensive range of side dishes.
Our waiter, who (like all the staff we encountered) was exceptional all evening with just the right level of care and attention, was confident and experienced enough to know when to offer menu suggestions ensuring that we didn’t miss out on house specialities while still choosing our own dishes from classic Italian menu.
We began, as recommended, with the Gusto dough petals, a much more intricate and decidedly tastier version of the standard dough ball served with a heady garlic and onion butter, before swiftly moving on to our starters of calamari – a heaving bowl of crisp, battered squid; spiced butternut squash soup – a hearty bowl with a gentle kick of heat; and the acclaimed red pepper and garlic arancini – a homemade dish that delivered a very moreish rice ball in a rich red pepper sauce.
Our mains of lamb cacciatore – a wholesome bowl of stew with red wine, herbs and charred sweet potato; the 9oz ribeye – a rich perfectly charred cut served with wild mushrooms; the 8oz fillet – juicy, melt-in-the-mouth beef with an intense garlic butter; and the recommended pork cutlet – chargrilled and served on the bone with crackling, sweet apple sauce and rich red wine jus were all beautiful to look at, even better to eat and served in very generous portions too. The side order of truffled fries with grana padano was delicious.
Desserts continued along the same theme; classic offerings with an Italian twist and a Gusto flourish, and soon the table was heaving with tempting treats of classic sticky toffee pudding and warm chocolate brownie (although hazelnuts, pistachio ice cream and biscoff sauce elevated this version) to the unique Nutella and mascarpone calzone; a sweet twist on the pizza classic, and the impossible to resist Bombolini – mini sweetened dough balls with biscoff sauce and Chantilly cream.
With even more tempting options, including a very reasonably priced set lunch and a new brunch menu to try alongside regular special events and a rewarding diners club, we can’t wait to return.
Gusto Restaurant & Bar, 9 High Street, Chislehurst BR7 5AJ
020 8468 7300