Part two of Wellington on a Plate saw us head off to Gusto Bistro in Petone.
Gusto's blurb advises us, "Inspired by the ingredients, techniques and wines of the Mediterranean region, Gusto Bistro's menu is littered with classic dishes and some more contemporary interpretations".
The Wellington on a Plate menu was as follows:
Three courses with matched wines for $60. For full serve wine matches, $80.
Wairarapa onion soup with Kingsmeade Opaki manchego cheese crouton
Lighthouse Gin-soaked Salmon gravlax with Prana baby leaves and Zany Zeus smoked yoghurt
Market fish with Te Horo Jerusalem artichoke purée, sunflower seeds and Lot Eight citrus oil
Braised PrimeStar osso bucco with Greytown Gold saffron risotto and parsley gremolata
Whittaker's chocolate mousse with Stanmore Farms blackberry sorbet, jelly, jam and powder
Wairarapa apple and Zorganic panna cotta with Crooked Cider and Pinnacle Grove walnuts
Seven of us were dining at Gusto, on a Tuesday night. Gusto is full of nooks and smaller rooms and we were fortunate to be in our own little room - quite nice for a larger group, we could be as raucous as we liked. We all decided on the Wellington on a Plate menu. I went for the salmon gravlax, fish, then the chocolate mousse.
Our first wine match was served up - a delicious chardonnay with the salmon, and interestingly, a sherry with the onion soup.
While we waited for our starters, we were delivered a morsel of smoked snapper wrapped in courgette. Although tiny (the size of my little finger) it packed a punch of flavour and deliciousness. Yum. It left me wanting more.
Unfortunately, we were left wanting and waiting. After 40 minutes of waiting, we had all almost polished off our wine and out starters were finally served. I actually think I am being generous with the 40 minute wait, Paul reckons it was closer to an hour of waiting. Anyway, it was a long time, and we were hungry by the time our starters finally arrived.
Our starters were nice. However, I really can't see how they took so long to arrive, nothing required any cooking as such. And on top of all that, Paul's soup was warm, not hot. My dish was a cold dish (salmon with some foam and a smear of the smoked yoghurt, which really was delicious), so I'm not sure how the soup could possibly not have been piping hot. We had managed to save a mouthful of wine, and we agreed that the wine match was lovely, really well done.
Another wait for the main ensued, but thankfully this was not as long as the starter wait. My fish was beautifully cooked and the puree was tasty. Although, here I have another gripe. Almost all of us ordered the fish, and the size of each portion of fish varied massively. Size might vary between tables, and if you don't know it's happening you can't get grumpy about it, that's fine. But, when one person gets a piece of fish almost three times the size of another and they are sitting next to each other, well, you're going to notice. The same thing happened with our wine, massively inconsistent pours. Now, I know this is picky and a bit miserable of me, but when you are all paying the same, you expect consistency, or close to it. If it was close enough I wouldn't have noticed, and wouldn't be moaning about it. But, the difference was enough for us all to notice, and more importantly, to comment about it.
Dessert was the highlight of the meal. We all chose the chocolate mousse, and it was an excellent choice. All the components of the dish were incredible. The mousse was chocolatey and rich, the sorbet was the right mix of sweet and tart, and the jelly, jam and powder rounded it off beautifully. The wine match with the dessert was also a winner. Again, it was another sherry, but this one was totally different to the first. It was like drinking raisins. Sweet, sticky, moreish, we savoured every mouthful.
While dessert was amazing, I'm not hanging out to return to Gusto. I think overall I would rate it perhaps a 6, helped mostly by the faultless dessert. I think my overall impression was that Gusto takes itself a bit seriously, and perhaps tries a bit hard. It let itself down with extremely slow service, almost-cold soup, and uneven portions.