Our first review for 2015 is another South of the River (are you starting to get a feel for my neighbourhood yet?) breakfast eatery, located on the very-pretty-but-uber-overpriced Angelo Street - Gusto Food.
Upon sitting down, Rose Gold, who had been to Gusto Food before, told me I had to order the pulled pork benedict as she hadn't seen it anywhere else and thought of it as Gusto's signature dish. I'm a big fan of a good eggs benedict and so I was happy to oblige.
I was fairly impressed when the dish came out, too. The photo below doesn't do it justice - it was a very very pretty plate. I've never been a subscriber to this 'we eat with our eyes' mentality, though - it strikes me as a silly expression people say to sound clever - so I was relieved when the first bite of the pulled pork benedict reinforced what my eyes suspected and screamed 'amazeballs'.
The dish has a sweet flavour, which I suppose isn't an altogether original pairing for pork but for an entirely good reason - it works well. The second bite too was a wonderful experience as I worked through all the flavours and components, and enjoyed what was a unique dish I had not tried before.
By the third bite, however, and the eating from there on in, my enjoyment started to peter out. The problem is the dish is just too rich, and if you look at the photo I think you can see what I'm talking about. That's a lot of sauce. A lot of pulled pork. Two eggs, some balsamic and caramelised onions. It was rich, and fatty and sweet and creamy. The dish became sloppy after a while - I think it could have done with another piece of bread, as about half way through when rationing your bread to slop ratio you can start to see you're going to run out - except then it would have been a heavier dish still.
It got to a point where half way through the meal I thought to myself, 'am I really going to go through with this? I paid $19.50 for this dish, can I stand to leave some behind?'. In fact, I took a photo to commemorate thismoment. The dish below was what stared at me during my moment of truth.
I did go on to finish the plate, in silent homage to how I imagine the pig that had been pulled apart in front of me would have chosen to live its life, but I struggled with my decision for a few hours afterwards.
I think the dish would work very well as some sort of bite sized (if that's even possible when working with eggs) or tapas style product. The monstrosity I was served was simply too much, too rich, too bold to be brilliant past the first few minutes.
A decadent experience and not altogether terrible, but I wouldn't order it again.
Madam Rabbit and Rose Gold ordered the a custom meal of poached egg, hash browns and beans and the eggs benedict (standard benedict i.e. sans sloppy pulled pork), respectively. Madam Rabbit commented the menu didn't have many vegetarian options (as usual), and that the hash browns were a little bland. The beans and chutney they came out with were sweet and spicy, which was a bit of an unexpected combination with the egg. Rose Gold said her benedict was good - not too heavy, enjoyable fresh bread, well cooked eggs. Again, Rose Gold commented it was slightly sweeter than she expected, though she wasn't sure where that sweetness came from. Perhaps the hollandaise or the balsamic?
Gusto seems to have a thing for taking typically rich savory dishes and putting a sweet twist on them.
A variety of cakes and sweets were also on sale at the front counter - some of which looked very impressive. I ordered a donut to take away and while the dough was a little bit tough when I got around to eating it later in the day (hours later, once the pork benedict had settled) - it was pretty decent for $2.
I was a bit suprised to see Gusto Food offers the standard teas, coffees, simple juices only. Given the extravagant breakfast and brunch meals on offer, I had expected equally extravagant fresh squeezed juices, smoothies and perhaps even mocktails to compliment - but there was nothing doing. Not a hanging offence by any means but I think, given their clientele (more below), I think it would be worth them buying a fancy blender or at least a nutribullet or something.
Service was very good. They replaced our water jug with a new one after a few minutes of it being emptied and without being asked, which is always a good test. Customers order at the counter and there was occasionally a bit of a line, but the hosts were very smiley and worked quickly, so no complaints here.
Curiously, it seemed to us the front of house was run exclusively by young 20-something females, all very well dressed from presumably the same fashionable stores. I wouldn't usually comment on this sort of thing except for the remarks I'm about to make below..
Ok - weird moment ahead - but Rose Gold, Madam Rabbit and I were all struck by the people eating breakfast at Gusto food at 9am on a Sunday. They were all in their young 20s and very dressed up. I toyed with the idea of taking surreptitious photos of everyone to get a catalog for how cool kids were dressing these days, but I was reliably informed by both Rose Gold and Madam Rabbit this was the definition of creepy and was told they would leave immediately were I to begin.
It seems Gusto has been designated the place cashed up young people go to be seen. Perhaps after hitting the morning weights (it's 'shredding season', I'm told) and before hitting the regular festival outfit planning committee meeting.
These were some very short shorts at 9am on a Sunday. 9am Sunday is the time for Jesus, people. Or, perhaps more accurately, it's a time for heavy sunglasses and last night's makeup. It's a time for pondering the regrets of Saturday, which only friends, bacon and coffee can soothe. Please, out of respect for us older folk, kids, leave your enthusiastic flesh-window outfits for the later hours. Save the biceps and cleavage for the Sunday sessions, like we used to in my day.
Ok - putting aside my rant about the youth of today - the amenity of Gusto is good in parts and bad in parts.
- oh my god could you all quit it with the stupid stools already. See the photo below. Why are these a thing right now? The only redeeming feature I can think of is that they are likely cheap, sturdy, stackable and can be paired with the colours to match the rest of a place. These elements are not enough to put up with the fact that they are hugely uncomfortable and spreading like wildfire. I do not like them. My yoga career has yet to blossom and I need a chair with back support. Give me a chair with back support
- the building itself is actually kind of small, which is a shame because I'm sure they could fill out a bigger cafe. Not a huge issue though
- it was getting pretty busy after about 9.30am and it made us feel a bit rushed to see people crowding for our table
- there was some wonderful artwork on the walls. So good that I would have liked them to display the artist so that I could look into him/her further
- the lead-light windows at the front entrance were lovely and gave the place a nice feel to it well suited to South Perth. I liked that
- wonderful pendant lights up running along the wall and on top of the front counter.
- despite the number of people that wanted to get in and the small building, it didn't feel too cramped. I think they've done a good thing here as they've resisted the temptation to cram more covers in and have people eating on top of each other
Gusto is a pretty decent place to eat, but (and perhaps I'm being unnecessarily harsh here) I won't be in a hurry to go back. I'm keen to try some of the other items on their menu (the crumpets especially, as I think they would suit Gusto's obsession with sweet) but it feels to me like Gusto is the place people go to be seen, rather than the place people go to relax. That's not the owner's fault - they're not about to turn away good cashed up clientelle, especially those so willing to flaunt their assets (and I'm not talking the balance sheet kind - hey hey!), I suppose - but it remains a factor in why I'm in no rush to return. I don't want to feel like I need to dress up to go to brunch. The Gusto food just wasn't good enough to overcome the feel of the place.
That being said, one thing I would like to compliment Gusto on are the prices. Credit where credit is due - they are serving very big meals (that are, despite the tone of the comments on my pork benedict above, especially thought out and not your stock-standard boring breakfasts) and charging some reasonable prices. If it wasn't for their current clientele I could see myself returning and trying a few more things. But I'm old. And I'm a snark. So I likely won't.
8 stupid-effing-stools out of 10