Published on March 24th, 2015 | by Ann Rickard0
Gusto Riverfront Restaurant and Bar
When you have a glass of chilled Croser Sparkling Rose put in front you, you know things are going to be good.
When it is Diana Gavlov who puts in there, all the better.
Diana has been serving Noosans for as long as our memories stretch back, and it is always a reassurance to have her welcome you at Gusto Riverfront Restaurant.
A lazy scrutinize of the new autumn menu while sipping on that sparkling rose got the juices flowing last week.
The pleasure of reading a menu is almost as good as the eating. It’s the anticipation.
Should you have the in-season pancetta-wrapped figs Gusto is celebrated for?
You know you want them, with their creamy Woodside goat curd and spicy walnut and coriander pesto.
These were my pleasant thoughts last week on a warm autumn night opposite the river at Gusto when Noosaville was pleasantly busy, the restaurants all buzzing with activity despite the visitors departure weeks ago.
Reluctantly passing on the figs, ditto the fish potstick dumplings with a sticky honey, soy and chilli oil dressing, we dived into other goodies on the starter list.
A broad bean, fennel and feta tart proved Gusto chef and owner, Nathan Hall, is a champion pastry maker, and tarts are his speciality.
The broad bean tart looked every inch as neat and perfectly triangled as Nathan’s renowned lemon tart, but this savoury lovely was a thing of a another kind of pastry pleasure.
An absolute winner with its green filling full of flavour. A small mound of baby gem and pear salad next to it elevated it from excellent to, well…really excellent.
My guess the tart will become another Gusto signature.
A pork and pistachio terrine with peach chutney called to us, but so did the charcuterie board.
Fortunately, a slice of the terrine made an appearance on the charcuterie board along with some seriously beautiful Serrano ham, wafer-thin slices of salami, and strips of coppa.
Coppa is Italian air-cured pork meat. One bite and you can visualise a farmer in Tuscany salting, drying, resting and ageing this delicious meat – and we were grateful for it.
With cornichons, green Sicilian olives and a pot of Nathan’s peach chutney on the charcuterie board there was a lot to linger over, and the crunch of chargrilled ciabata brought the whole charcuterie story together.
Excellent eating so far, and we were on to a glass of pinot grigio (me) and pinot noir (him.)
Gusto’s food-friendly wine list shines with offerings from our best regions (Adelaide Hills, Mornington Peninsula, Margaret River, Yarra Valley) and it’s the same in New Zealand (Marlborough, Central Otago, Hawkes Bay.) Italy gets a good look in with Tuscany and Piedmonte represented. France too has a peek, with the Reims and Sancerre regions adding a touch of class. Someone had a lot of fun crafting this thoughtful wine list.
A new main course of roast duck leg confit will win you over.
With satisfyingly big hand-cut chips and a raisin, pear and hazelnut coleslaw, it is an elegant and classic dish given Nathan’s generous twist on it. Crispy duck skin is an indulgence, you feel spoilt eating Nanthan’s duck.
Service is calm and knowledgeable at Gusto.
Diana Gavlov is well backed-up and if it is a night Kay Callander is on, (co-owner with Nathan Hall) then you are in the best possible hands. The level in your wine glass will be attentively watched over.
New menus are one thing, but unwavering Gusto favourites will always remain: Mooloolaba prawn ravioli; oysters with a watermelon salsa’ a trio of dips with house-made pide (I’d love a dollar for every person who has begun a Gusto meal with the trio of dips…it’s been on the menu since the day Gusto opened 16 years ago.)
The beer battered fish and chips never let you down, and the square of rich potato galette with the eye fillet is always something to look forward to.
And it’s good to know the perfect wedge of lemon tart with thick cream will be there patiently waiting for your return.
The lunch specials (Monday through Saturday at $25 with a glass of wine), change every month. Be quick for the March offering of duck, mushroom and spinach risotto, and be assured there will be something just as good in April.
Gusto, with its river views and pleasing attitude to celebrate food that suits our sub-tropical climate, is everything that equates to Noosa.
It does smart/casual exceptionally well.