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FIRST LOOK: Gusto Deansgate Opens Friday 5 December

Confidential sticks its nose into Living Ventures' latest grand city centre opening

Written by . Published on December 1st 2014.

FIRST LOOK: Gusto Deansgate Opens Friday 5 December


CONFIDENTIAL has just been for a snoop around Living Ventures’ latest city centre bar & restaurant – and it looks belting.

"Manchester's new Gusto is the first of the Café Grande style. One million pounds plus projects that we're going to roll-out across more city centres like Glasgow, Leeds and Birmingham."

Gusto - due to open to the public on Friday 5 December – has taken a 8,000 sq ft slice of Deansgate’s newly refurbished Grade II-listed Elliot House (designed by Royle & Bennet and built in 1878) and the former neighbouring Olive restaurant.

As is their way, Manchester's major restaurant and bar group (Australasia, The Oast House, Alchemist, The Botanist, Manchester House) - captained by Tim Bacon and Jeremy Roberts - have not stinged on the fit-out and thrown £1.3m at this high-end Italian.

It's easy to see where the dough's been spent. The feature island-bar around which the whole 254-seater restaurant revolves, plush with marbled floors, cast iron columns and stained glass, looks a million bucks alone.

With its warm, ornate and palatial art deco innards, the clinking of glass and the buzzing of staff, the new Gusto has the feel of one of Europe's postcard capital cafés. Squint and you could be in the Paix in Paris, or at least The Wolseley or Delaunay in London.


Gusto's feature island-barGusto's feature island-bar

This is now the tenth Gusto opening, with restaurants spread from Edinburgh to Knutsford, but the first Gusto of the new 'Café Grande' breed.

"Manchester's new Gusto is the first of the Café Grande style," Gusto's Managing Director, Sue Crimes, told us. "One million pounds plus projects that we're going to roll-out across more city centres like Glasgow, Leeds and Birmingham."

"The a la carte menu will be carried over from the other Gusto restaurants," Crimes continued, "but Café Grande will offer an additional specials menu and a connoisseurs wine-list."

Confidential got hold of the opening specials menu which features Dover sole 'Colbert' (£29.75), grilled langoustines (£34.95), rosemary cured monkfish (£21.75) and a whole lobster thermidor (£42.50).

GustoGusto (ground floor), Lloyd Street

Gusto MD, Sue CrimesMD and Queen of Gusto, the gracious Sue Crimes

Although, Crimes was keen to make it clear that Gusto was very much open to all. "Yes we'll draw the big-spenders, business and corporates customers, but like the other Gustos we also want the city shoppers and the families - that's why we offer a kid's menu and the design-your-own-pizzas."

Gusto's menu is very reasonable and loosely Italian. Alongside the brushetta (from £3.95), buffalo mozzarella (£6.50), pizzas (from £7.95), pasta and risotto (from £5.25), you'll also find mashed potato with salsa (£3.25), houmous (£5.25) pan-roasted duck (£15.95) and 10oz rib-eyes (£16.95).

There's over 50 wines to choose from too (£16.50 to £55, bottle), plenty of the bubbly stuff (£25 to £195, bottle), whilst bartenders currently beaver away at a cocktail menu exclusive to the new Manchester site and Gusto's first 'Cafe Grande'. 

GustoGusto's bare walls will be adorned by local artists (including Michael Browne) before the launch

GustoGusto booths

Bosses at the new Gusto are keen to push the wet trade as much as the restaurant. "We want the bar to be a destination in its own right," Crimes told us during the walkabout. "The focal point of this whole restaurant is this beautiful bar so in that respect we want the drinkers in the centre to become as much a part of this restaurant as the diners.

"We've designed the bar in such a way that you can casually hop up and eat on a stool at the bar too, just pop in for a bowl of pasta and a glass of wine."

So what can we expect next from the Knutsford-based food and drink behemoth?

Well, aside from Alchemist's extension into the former All Saints unit and Artisan's ground floor bar extension in Spinningfields, Confidential is told that Living Ventures are cooling-off on Manchester City Centre openings for now.

But the group - which recorded record sales of nearly £50m last year - have ambitious designs on cities right across the UK.

Gusto opens at 4 Lloyd Street on Friday 5 December 2014.

See all Gusto menus here and make a reservation here.

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33 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

DavidDecember 1st 2014.

In line with our Rant Policy this comment has been removed because it is full of bile. EDITORIAL

rinkydinkDecember 1st 2014.

The city had hardly any bars worth going to at all in the early 90s as far as I can remember. Which ones are you on about? And in contrast to the "total crap" produced by this company, which places do you approve of and like to frequent, Mr David?

4 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousDecember 2nd 2014.

Other than Dry, Manto and one or two others on Canal Street there were no others at that time were there? Just pubs.

rinkydinkDecember 2nd 2014.

They are the ones that I thought of. Plus Athenaeum (now Browns). There were no others!

AnonymousDecember 2nd 2014.

The Athenaeum was THE bar to go to in '93 / '94. The bloke that managed or that was behind it is now behind Velvet I think. Before it was called the Athenaeum it was called Greens if I recall. It was empty for years prior to that. There was always Brahms and Liszt [now Panama Hatties] for the '80's set along with Henry's[now Revolution behind Kendals] and another one I've forgotten the name of on St Ann's Square [now McDonalds?]. Still, nowhere near the choice available today.

SquirrelitoDecember 2nd 2014.

Not many bars at all, Ganders on St Annes Square, JW Johnsons on Deansgate, Rothwells, and one on Tib St. And another one that began with an "A", a bar (not pub) crawl involved a lot of leg work.

AnonymousDecember 2nd 2014.

The menu is will be very familiar to anyone who went to the Olive Press before it was subsumed.

SquirrelitoDecember 2nd 2014.

Looks like a nice fit out. Echoes of Claridges with all the Art Deco touches

AnonymousDecember 2nd 2014.

People complain bout Living Ventures being everywhere around Manchester but that's more of a reflection on the fact nobody else in Manchester is able to deliver on this scale. I'll be honest they're not my favourite places but the service in Living Venture places is nearly always excellent. The service in most NQ bars is terrible (Odd, Common and Bluu have all hired people incapable of dealing with other people) and the entire Trof chain where they try their best to rip you off whenever they can.

7 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousDecember 2nd 2014.

I agree, NQ bars are terrible for customer service, which is why I prefer to drink in Spinningfields but then again the service in Spinningfields isn't that much better... and yes Living Ventures does seem to be the only "big boy" chain out there at the moment, yes its all factory made but at least its pumping money into Manchester...

AnonymousDecember 2nd 2014.

What do you want from the customer service? A big smile? Pat on the back? I agree some bartenders are a bit aloof but I don't see why people complain about customer service in bars.. you're only buying a drink.

AnonymousDecember 2nd 2014.

^ Yes but they often make out they're doing you a massive favour.

EdwardDecember 2nd 2014.

It's annoying when you go to a newsagent or small grocer and the shopkeeper is on their mobile phone and acts like you have interrupted them.

AnonymousDecember 2nd 2014.

^ Equally as bad is a customer in front of you that although is being served is on their mobile phone. Very rude.

AnonymousDecember 2nd 2014.

Taps have the right idea.

rinkydinkDecember 3rd 2014.

They don't even have taps in Taps anymore, no? I think they just stick a 'Party Seven' in the middle of the table

Margaret HoustonDecember 2nd 2014.

Have they nicked the booths from Stock?

DavidDecember 2nd 2014.

Living Ventures are much like the standard of building in Spinningfields,big and shiny and without imagination.With all these people and the council in bed with developers there is no interest in design or architecture.For me this company are like Pete Waterman or Robbie Williams very successful but bland and will leave no legacy in the city in the way Hacienda or Dry or Manto or Mash and Air did.Bars then wanted to be different and employ the new wave of talent in the City to create something original.Now everything is totally lacking in originality and totally conformist.In the city the Cheshire set,the Middle of road have triumphed.Manchester has totally lost its mojo as interesting city.What surprises me is that someone like Mr Schofield someone with a interest in design.seems to think this is a good thing.If Manchester is going to be just a identikit copycat city what's the point of people coming here.when it just resembles everywhere else?.This used to be a city of originality,'what Manchester does today others do tomorrow' is no longer the case sadly.

13 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousDecember 2nd 2014.

Where do you suggest Manchester looks like?

DavidDecember 2nd 2014.

I suggest it's lacking people like Tony Wilson who dare to be different,who appreciate originality.Instead it's in the pocket of developers whose schemes are the same in every city,much like the Barret Houses of the 1980s.The council has zero interest in design and the planning department might as well not exist,since Leese and Co bend over backwards to please developers,as they equate attracting any development as success,without any long term interest in consequences for the city.Even the public consultation that happened post 96 has gone,the one party council does exactly what it wants,as Library Walks shows.

AnonymousDecember 2nd 2014.

Before Gimboid predictably responds with 'What's your point? Should skyscrapers be built from brick and stone?' I agree with your observation David.

AnonymousDecember 2nd 2014.

So true David, Manchester misses its "cultural catalyst" so much and the imagination has all gone from this city. Now the "Up And Going" dullards are back in full control of every damn aspect of this city's direction - and nobody in the council chamber, the business community, nor the compliant local media etc seems out there anymore to hold them to account and promote any alternative whatsoever! All so sad.

AnonymousDecember 2nd 2014.

No planning rules exist for bar or restaurant design / aesthetics, nor should they. What a completely idiotic rant David.

AnonymousDecember 2nd 2014.

It's the same old story - Young creative types make old run down area 'cool' then developers and people with money move in and it becomes gentrified. Happens everywhere. No one is stopping anyone from leaving though so you can't really complain.

GimboidDecember 2nd 2014.

Now, why would I say that when no-one except you has mentioned building materials? I don't know why you want my attention so badly. You really are a sad obsessive, Anon.

AnonymousDecember 2nd 2014.

Agreed with David. Manchester centre has no character. A mess of buildings. No thought for how buildings will look alongside each other - Newcastle, Glasgow, Liverpool are cities with their own identity. Manchester...there's the Hilton and the re-done library with bid load of tarmac outside.

AnonymousDecember 2nd 2014.

Wirral = Cheshire

AnonymousDecember 3rd 2014.

The tarmac is temporary you twit. Why would they put stone down when they're going to have to rip it up to move the metro stop for the second city crossing?

rinkydinkDecember 3rd 2014.

The thing is David, it's not 1991 anymore. Hip bars are no longer a novelty. And so much for Manto's legacy... no one goes down Canal Street anymore. It's gone backwards way big style. So let's celebrate what's good about now, the sheer choice. Move on. I bet your musical taste is similarly stuck in a rut too. Bay City Rollers have a new single out you know

DavidDecember 4th 2014.

I would rather have stylish,original bars,that have something about them than design by focus group,that Living Ventures seems to represent.Everything they do has no soul and no originality.Canal Street has gone backwards precisely because it moved away from stylish bars to cheap,nasty venues that attracted trouble.

rinkydinkDecember 4th 2014.

Only in your opinion. Canal Street actually went backwards because it didn't evolve enough and that is down to the business owners. It's stuck in a time warp. It should have been the NQ before the NQ even existed. Instead, it's ended up desperate and having to resort to cheap drink deals which of course attract a certain type of customer. On the other hand, I think a lot of people would agree that Living Ventures are very good for Manchester and have made Spinningfields the success it is

JoanDecember 2nd 2014.

This is on Deansgate. Hardly an old run down area made cool by creatives, anon.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousDecember 2nd 2014.

I was referring to Manchester and its 'reinvention' - see earlier posts..

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