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Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Am I a food snob?

Am I a food snob?

I don't think so, but I know that in the area we live its not easy finding pubs serving decent food.

The other day I voiced this opinion and the response "If that's the case were all fecked" got me thinking.
Maybe I'm not as open minded as I should be, from a food point of view.

So this week looking for a suitable venue for the Sensible One's last supper prior to his University departure, we decided to book somewhere completely different.I asked Only Daughter to ring and place the booking.She found the number on line.

Only Daughter:Mum do you know this place isn't a proper restaurant?
Self:What do you mean?
Only Daughter:Well its not a proper restaurant,its a chain place.

Conclusive proof,I've passed my prejudices on to her.
We had to go.

Gusto is situated on the hot spot quayside area of Newcastle in sight of the Millennium bridge.A trendy area in the heart of the business district and law courts.The restaurant boasts the obligatory outside eating area with wall to ceiling windows inside taking advantage of the stunning river views.

We were greeted warmly and taken to our booth seating on the first floor accessed via a staircase in the centre of the room.Though Monday night the restaurant was already busy and had a nice buzz.
Drinks order promptly and efficiently taken we settled down to study the menu.
An Italian style menu with the usual,pizza,pastas,risottos together with meat and seafood options.
We ordered some olives and garlic bread to start.





It wasnt long before the food arrived.
Wheels chose an 'Italian' Burger with pesto and mozzarella.



Various pizza varieties for everyone else.



Apart from me(due to my gluten allergy).Wanting to keep some semblance of going with the Italian flow I asked for the Pork Cutlet Saltimbocca.It wasnt to be, I was informed that it was "off".I'm hoping not available, not literally..
I settled for the flattened rump steak with chilli and garlic.Served with rocket and Parmigiana.



The general consensus was that the pizzas were good, nice plentiful topping and crispy base,Wheels enjoyed his burger.My steak was tasty if a little spicy due to the liberal sprinkling of dried chilli flakes which I didnt expect.The chips were frozen,but they were crispy and golden and good quality.I would rather have eaten these than a badly cooked fresh chip.
Chef ordered a tomato and mozzarella salad to go with his pizza,which I tasted after Id finished my meal.



I found it a bit dry,Chef was surprised.We realised it had dried out under the huge hanging light which was directly over the table similar to an operating theatre fitting.I put my hand under,it was hot,maybe it was a ploy to keep the food warm.A bad idea.

Wheels and I always have a pudd.He chose a 'Nutella and mascarpone Calzone' but was discouraged from having this as the 'kitchen were too busy'.Im struggling with the conflict this statement provokes:

a. why would you put something on the menu which it was impossible to cook if you happened to be busy?
b.why would you open a restaurant if you expected not to be busy?

Its a 'no brainer' isn't it?Never mind,he settled for a Tiramisu instead which he proclaimed was the 'best he'd ever eaten'.I wouldn't take this literally though as the last thing he's eaten is frequently the best thing he's ever eaten.Oh the optimism of youth,its a nice sentiment though.



I tried the chocolate and orange mousse which tasted exactly like Terry's chocolate orange.Chef suspected it may in fact have been made with that product.Quite a good idea actually.



Whilst the food wasn't fantastic, there was nothing actually wrong with it,the service was very good,an example of a well implemented company standard( Standards Of Procedure Manual as known in the trade).We were glad we went.

At this point BG excused himself to go outside to have a look at the river fag..

As we sat around the table Chef reminisced about his first job out of college.
He was given his first taste of professional cooking at the oldest established Italian restaurant in the city.Pascal the owner was a real character.It was a good learning curve with everything cooked properly from scratch,butchery was done on site and nothing wasted.
All the trimmings from the whole fillets and striploins were frozen until there was enough to cook slowly overnight on huge trays,until the fat was rendered down and the meat beautifully tender.This was then used as the base for various pasta sauces.
Chef is adamant the lasagne and bolognese are still the best he's ever tasted.

The restaurant was noted for the Veal Saltimbocca.One of the most popular dishes.
Chef remembers painstakingly de-sinewing bucket upon bucket of turkey legs(if you've ever tried this you'll know what a goddamn awful task this is)which were then batted out and served as veal...No one ever questioned this.

It was one of those places which was open and serving food until after midnight.After service when all the diners had left, Pascal would open a bottle of wine(always red) and insist all the kitchen staff sat down together and ate.He chose what, but made sure they were all fed.Afterwards in his strong Italian accent he would say 'Now we make the pasta.' There was a family atmosphere but Chef suspected Pascal didn't much like going home himself.
They were usually in the kitchens making something or other until 5am.After which Pascal would drive them all home in his battered estate car.Sometimes he would allow Chef to drive despite the inconsequential lack of a license.They were back at work at 10am.Small wonder the reliance in the industry for artificial stimulants..


Italian food is delicious.Chef has always fancied opening an authentic Italian restaurant serving simple pastas,pizzas and salads.Made properly(no veal dishes).Not a pseudo trendy one, a bog standard wooden table candle in the bottle retro type place.There isn't a one in our local town.Tonight's excursion reignited the enthusiasm and we both like the challenge of a new venture.
Do you think it would go?
Or would people still want the 'Peking pizza with Roasted crispy duck on a hoi sin base with spring onion and cucumber'?
I'm not sure..

9 comments:

Wildernesschic said...

It is so difficult we have absolutely zero places to go to around here, when a place does open with a reasonable standard of food it is popular for a while but the population is too small to maintain consistency so I think that they loose the quality chef and then the whole standard falls and the place fills with kids and then goes bump... but the chippys and kebab houses are still going xx

legend in his own lunchtime said...

There's always a place for good Italian food.
I haven't been to the Quay side for many years, but I have fond memories of my own training at the Moulin Rouge, just round the corner from Guild Hall. It was where I learned the mantra of "never piss off the chef". The head waiter was an obnoxious piece of shit, and treated the staff appallingly. After work he would mosey down the the kitchen to order his steak (always the Filet). The chef would go into the walk in fridge, remove a nice looking piece of meat and then toss it on the floor. Each commi would then take turns stamping on it, before throwing it into the pan. How he never got poisoned, I will never know.

Diane said...

I discovered a fab place near me recently (The Milestone in Sheffield) such a refreshing place with real food. I hate it these days when we go out for a meal and it is a disapointment. xx

Alison Cross said...

I take issue with the lasagna claim: *I* make the best lasagna in the world. My son says so, so it must be true!

You b'aint a food snob!

Just watched 5 disgusting foods or something on BBC3. Sonshine is never getting a hotdog again. EVER.

Ali xxxx

Northern Snippet said...

Wilderness chic-so glad I'm not the only one in the culinary wilderness!
legend-did you train as a chef?the moulin rouge sounds decadent don't think I remember it but will investigate further.Love the steak thing did you watch him eat it and smile smugly at a job well done?

diane-my sons just gone off to uni in Sheffield might try that place next time Im allowed to visit him.(he's already instructed me to stop ringing him every day..)

Ali - I'm sure you're lasagne would compete with Pascals.re the hot dogs was it the lips,ears and privates thing again?What you don't know doesn't harm you.Best not be watching things like that.My sis once ordered 6 hot dogs from one of those trolley things on a drunken night out and survived to tell the tale...

Choclette said...

Well I know which one I'd prefer and would so love to have a simple but good quality Italian in our town, but I'm probably not your average pizza goer.

Grazing Kate said...

Yes, Northern Snippet, please transform yourself into South Western Snippet and open a good quality restaurant of any kind near me in Devon. Decent unpretentious Italian is always a winner. We have two in our town, one of them is overpriced and I hear bad reports - the other (fresco in Teignmouth) is fairly new (a year old, privately owned) and is very small and is always booked, overbooked and I believe they've put in a 'two sittings' thing (which I hate).

Young at Heart said...

food snob or woman with standards?? it's a thin line......although melting a Terry's chocolate orange is now conjuring up all sorts of ideas!!

Heavenly Housewife said...

If its good food, people will come and continue to come. If its bad, you may get customers, but not returning customers.
And as far as being a food snob? There's nothing wrong with being discerning daaaahling!
*kisses* HH

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