Success a combination of ingredients at Gustos at Noosaville
EVERY year around this time, locals in the know line up for a table at Gusto Riverfront Restaurant for their annual hit of Chef Nathan Hall's renowned fig and goat curd dish.
If figs were sweet, ripe and available all year round Nathan still wouldn't keep up with the demand for this dish, one of his signatures.
Fig halves are wrapped in pancetta, warmed in the oven and then placed (gently, we know) on a white cloud of creamy goat curd which melds softly into a bed of crunchy walnut pesto. A combination of luscious ingredients handled as little as possible makes this fig dish a pleasure to the last mouthful. You can see why the crowds flock.
The figs are just one reason Gusto has taken its rightful place high on the list of Noosa's favourite eating spots.
The glorious riverside location plays its part of course, and the knowledgeable service is a pleasure, but it is more Nathan's technique with good ingredients that calls for respectful contemplation of the good life at Gusto.
On this Gusto visit we dipped straight into the duck spring rolls after our necessary fig fix.
Shreds of confit duck are encased in crispy pastry to produce large, satisfying spring rolls. With generous swirls of sticky honey soy dressing, they had us purring like satisfied cats.
Then, another entree to share: perfectly seared scallops (Hervey Bay of course), plump and juicy, sitting atop individual potato fritters the same size as the scallops. With a lemon dressing, these lovelies were so addictive we regretted our agreement to share.
All the dishes on the summer menu are appealing.
The duck-liver pate is another siren-caller we've enjoyed before.
Creamy and rich, the pate comes with cornichons, red onion jam and an obliging pile of grilled ciabatta to pile it all on. It's so French you have to look out to the Noosa river to remind yourself where you are.
Other dishes we've tried before and loved include a warm broad bean, fennel and feta tart with a baby gem and pear salad; roasted pumpkin tortellini with cherry tomatoes and sage butter; oysters topped with watermelon salsa.
After three shared entrees, we sat for awhile enjoying the dusk action on the river foreshore: promenaders out in big numbers,
a few skateboarders scooting by. Darkness crept down beguilingly. You have to pinch yourself on Noosa nights like these.
Then, it was one main course to share: grilled salmon with sweetcorn, pistachio and date cous cous. The fish came moist and pink on the inside with a dark chargrilled pattern on the outside. The cous cous, which can often be bland, came blinged up with colours and textures. A welcome sweetness of dates, light crunch of pistachio and corn and a scatter of chopped parsley all turned the soft grainy cous cous into a high-flavoured partner to support the salmon.
At this belt-loosening stage of the evening, we sat back and watched the foreshore action slow down and the restaurant fill up. A pleasure doubled by finishing the last of a bottle of Scotchman's Hill pinot noir from Gusto's excellent wine list featuring Aussie and Kiwi greats along with European imports.
Our greed didn't allow desserts but we're very friendly with Nathan's lemon tart and strongly suggest to make its acquaintance.
The lunch menu features most of the dinner menu with suitable additions including a gratifying steak sandwich. There are side dishes of mash, fries, vegetables, but you probably won't need them. A gluten free menu is available.
Nathan's wife Kay Callender runs the floor when she's not at home with their two young boys, but the staff obviously care for their bosses and are intimate with Nathan's menu. As for the riverside setting - well, that's as good as the figs.
Gusto Riverfront Restaurant
257 Gympie Tce, Noosaville
Telephone: 5449 7144
Entrees average $19, mains $32