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With its high ceilings, grand island bar and nods to 1920s design, Manchester’s branch of Gusto feels perfectly at home within Deansgate’s ornate Elliot House. This elegant Italian restaurant offers a crowd-pleasing menu spanning pasta, pizza and main-course meat and fish dishes, with a weekday set lunch offering decent value. We started with a fresh, colourful romesco chicken salad, the char-grilled strips of breast nestling among peppery rocket, red pepper and tangy goats’ cheese. To follow, whole salt-baked sea bass had been delicately infused with lemon and Italian herbs before being filleted tableside with a theatrical flourish. Simple sides of garlicky roasted potatoes and creamed spinach arrived well-seasoned, though our French beans were slightly undercooked. The dessert menu is old-school – tiramisu, sticky toffee pudding and hazelnut brownies – yet well-executed, and a creamy pannacotta demonstrated a reassuring wobble. Gusto’s predominantly European wine list is another highlight, boasting a laudable by-the-glass selection.
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