Restaurant Review: Gusto at the Grand

Situated inside SkyCity Grand (where the old Dine by Peter Gordon once stood), Gusto is a rustic Italian cuisine with plates designed to share. It is advertised to use simple food and ingredients with a menu designed by Sean Connolly.

I have been to Gusto previously (prior to me keeping a food blog) and unfortunately I didn’t enjoy the food there too much as it was quite salty. Months later today I thought I’d give it another chance when my friend wanted to have Italian cuisine for dinner.

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The menu

My friend and I were looking for a smaller meal tonight, so we went straight to the pasta and leave a little room for dessert. We ordered the mushroom risotto and fresh clam spaghetti, with seasonal asparagus tossed in lemon butter sprinkled with Parmesan cheese as a side to share.

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I love the freshness in the clam spaghetti, in fact, it was so light and tasty I felt I could have another order of that. My friend who had the risotto felt her food was very salty and I agree. We couldn’t finish the risotto in the end (despite me still feeling I was able to eat another main) because it was really quite salty. (Felt like my kidneys had to work hard to get rid of the salt!)

For dessert we ordered the much loved Lewis Road pannacotta, with strawberry and rhubarb, and the Bombolini filled with nutella (guilty pleasure). They were both really good but the portion is seriously for sharing only. I’ll recommend sharing between 2-3 for these desserts as they are quite big.

Overall the mean was fulfilling but I won’t say it is up to the standard or expectations of the other restaurants within the complex.

I’ll give it 2/5 for the amount of salt used in food!

SKYCITY Grand Hotel
90 Federal Street, Auckland

OPENING HOURS

Breakfast
Monday-Friday 6.30am-10.30am
Saturday & Sunday 6.30am-11.00am

Lunch
Daily 12pm-2.30pm

Dinner
Daily 5pm–late

Espresso cake with raspberry & rhubarb compote & Italian meringue – Redux

Espresso cake with raspberry & rhubarb compote & Italian meringue

Espresso cake with raspberry & rhubarb compote & Italian meringue

I rarely make the same cake twice (which is not a good habit at all), but this time one of my colleague has requested this as the leaving-do cake, so here it is, again.

This time I was armed with many more tools like my 5L mixing bowl, more mixing bowls in general, and my experience from last time. I have also discovered a local nut store that sells toasted and blanched hazelnut(i.e. skins off). Bingo. A simple thing like that reduced my prep time by an hour.

All in all it was alot easier than last time. I would half the Italian Meringue portion, and also half the rhubarb compote (which I did this time). Should yield just enough for the cake.

For the candied hazelnut, definitely wait for that 3 minutes after taking the caramel off the heat. Not sure the ice water is needed – During my first batch I had the iced water and at the end the caramel hardened too much. Second batch without iced water gave me more time to muck around with taping the skewers to the kitchen bench.

Note to self – next time, take that pot of boiling sugar syrup off the stove when there’s an earthquake (can’t believe I ran around the house while I left it boiling)!

And to get rid of hardened caramel / sugar syrup? Add quite a bit of water, and bring it to boil with high heat. No mess no fuss cleanup.

Refer to my previous post for recipe (off Cuisine Magazine) and other comments.

Espresso cake with raspberry & rhubarb compote & Italian meringue

My so-so attempt at Espresso Cake with Raspberry & Rhubarb Compote & Italian Meringue

My so-so attempt at Espresso Cake with Raspberry & Rhubarb Compote & Italian Meringue

This is my first ever attempt at making this cake.

Original recipe (and even videos! I wish I had watched them before I made the cake) available at Cuisine Magazine.

The featured cake is by Aimee Gillett from Wellington’s Charile & Cake.

Lessons learnt:

1. I really need a bigger mixing bowl. Preferably 5L one.

2. I really should put my cakes near bottom of oven – otherwise they will burnt easily on the outside but the insides would still be uncooked.

3. The caramelised hazelnut was tricky – I had to be quite quick (and all the cellotapes should be ready!) otherwise the caramel will harden within 5 minutes.

4. For the cake to resemble more closely (in terms of height) to the original, I really do need 25cm cake pans. By reducing the cake pan size, I have increased the height of the cake (due to the same amount of batter now in narrower container) so it looks oddly out of proportion.

5. Each hazelnut needs quite a bit of caramel, otherwise it won’t drip down.

6. I still have lots of left-over compote, so perhaps the quantity stated in the recipe could be reduced. Or, I probably had done something wrong with the compote! 🙂