Gusto 101

To celebrate my birthday, the lovely Cynthia took me out to Gusto 101 for dinner. The atmosphere in Gusto is great – it is a converted auto garage with exposed beams and ventilation but warmth from the banquette seating, the natural wood tables and the dim lighting. There is an entire wall of fresh Italian loaves that taunt you as you wait to be served. It has a very industrial Italian feel to it; a converted space that has been completely redefined as a space of good food and good company. It reminds me of traditional Italian cantinas or cold cellars: spaces that seem cold and uninviting but when filled with people make pasta and drinking good wine, are the best spaces in the house.

We started with some glasses of house red (served at $1/ounce!) and beef tartare.

Photo Credit: Gusto 101 website
Beef tartare with fresh fig compote, ricotta cream, and truffle oil.

This is not what ours looked like (we only had one but it was still good). It restored my faith in beef tartare after what happened at Union. The fig compote and ricotta cream added a lightness to the dish which you don’t usually find with tartares. The meat was chunky and loosely packed, allowing it to spread across the crostini and your tongue with every mouthful. The red wine complimented this perfectly.

Cynthia ordered the Fettuccine ai Funghi

Photo Credit: Peggy’s Toronto Food Adventure
Fettuccine ai Funghi  with portobello, porcini, oyster mushrooms, truffle paste, in a light cream sauce.

This is the most substantial and filling vegetarian pasta you will ever eat. The sauce was creamy and light, and as it cooled, it became richer and thicker. The flavours were comforting and bold – woody and nutty, with that soft, fleshiness of mushrooms. If you are a mushroom lover, this is a must-try dish.

I ordered the Spaghetti al Nero di Seppia.

4ltUXtjPhoto Credit: The Food Files
Spaghetti al Nero di Seppia with manila clams, shrimps, mussels, baby scallops, peperoncino white wine, and grape tomatoes.

The only difference between my meal and what is pictured is that my pasta was black from squid ink. This was actually the first pasta I have ever eaten that has been infused with flavour and colour. If you are not into seafood, do not order this plate of pasta. It is overloaded with fresh seafood and is definitely worth your money. My only complaint – the scallops could have been slightly bigger, but I will always ask for bigger scallops. The tomato sauce brought out the fruitiness of the seafood which was tender and fresh. The pasta was al dente and retained a good amount of firmness to it. I also liked how they kept with Italian tradition and did not serve it with parmesan as it was a seafood dish.

A great dinner, with even better company – happy munching!


A few weeks ago I went to Bent. I have been debating whether or not I should write about it because unfortunately, I got food poisoning for the first time. Food poisoning is terrible and I only had a very mild form which still left me in bed the next day. I didn’t want to talk about it because I don’t want to ruin Bent’s reputation because of the negative experience I had – not that I think I have the clout to do that. The servers were professional and the food was tasty but unfortunately, they did not deliver that night.

Outside of the food poisoning I had a few issues with Bent:

1. Bent is incredibly overpriced. It is a tapas-style restaurant which will always run a bit steep but unfortunately the portions were unsatisfying and small. Our server suggested that we only needed 2 plates each and this was an understatement. Ordering 4 tapas plates our bill, before tip, was almost $90.  I understand it was seafood but you are paying for the name (Susur Lee) and unfortunately it is not worth it.

2. The service was incredibly slow. Our server was knowledgable and friendly but it took forever to get our food. Tapas plates come out staggered but it should not take over 2 hours to eat a meal of this size, especially when the majority of the food is raw.

3. We ordered the Nigiri Tasting Plate, the Tuna & Watermelon ceviche, the Lobster tacos and the Duck Salad. My favourite was the nigiri tasting plate. The ceviche would have been good in theory but the chunks of tuna and watermelon were too large and did not interact with each other in every bite. I am convinced it is the ceviche that got me sick – I think the watermelon improperly cured the tuna and messed my system up..

At the end of the day, this was your typical Toronto pretentious dining experience – overpriced, low quality, and ultimately not worth it. If you choose to go, don’t get sick!

Sad munching…