GUSTOTAPAS BAR & LOUNGE
Ettalong, at the southern end of the Coast, has successfully established itself as one of the region’s food hot spots, with a great range of dining options and cuisine styles. Newcomer Gusto Tapas Bar & Lounge is the latest must-try venue.
Chris Farnon and Alia Khan are the force behind Ettalong’s latest dining darling. Both have had successful careers in communication with ties to hospitality, working with two Ettalong favourites – Beef and Barramundi Bar & Grill and the Central Coast Italian Festival.
Chris has always had a passion for good food and great drinks (his brother is a chef, as was his grandfather) and he could see an opening in the Ettalong dining scene for a particular type of venue.
Chris and Alia wanted to give the Peninsula a place perfect for groups, where friends could relax, share quality food and try something unique from the bar.
Having acquired a space in the restaurant enclave of the Ettalong Tourist Resort, the couple set about decorating in a lush and eclectic style, with rich colours and plush fabrics. Beautiful, vintage furnishings were sourced through local business Love Junk Emporium, including opulent, velvet upholstered sofas and antique lamps. Quality and flair abound with cast iron-based tables paired with black replica Eames chairs, white Royal Doulton dinnerware and colourful Laguoile cutlery.
There are comfy lounge areas, one with a fireplace, ideal for kicking back with friends and reliving the comforts of your childhood with a Redskin, Iced Vovo or Milo shot from the bar before you settle in for the main game – the food.
Chris and Alia had in mind a twist on tapas, putting their own spin on the convivial concept of small snacks, hot and cold, that can be shared accompanying drinks, or ordered en masse for a full meal. The next step was to find their chef, a task that proved more laborious than anticipated. A late expression of interest from a newcomer to the Coast turned out to be a blessing.
Peter Moy had recently relocated to the Coast from Hobart, where he had been working in the Salamanca area, known for its arts and restaurant culture and it’s famous market. Peter has a deep love of Spain and its food and has travelled extensively researching Spanish cuisine, particularly that of the Basque Country to the north. It only took a few turns in the kitchen to convince Chris and Alia that some ‘proper’ Spanish tapas could have a place on the Gusto menu alongside new ideas.
You will find traditional Spanish fare such as Patatas Bravas, chorizo braised in white wine and paella on the menu beside imaginative choices like the delicious pork belly lettuce wraps with salsa. The best ingredients are used throughout, from local suppliers where possible, and you can taste the quality in every mouthful. This is simple but flawless food.
It’s no surprise that the paella, which serves two, is a popular choice. The succulent flavours of chicken, chorizo, mussels, prawns and vegetables combine with the rice to create a very classy yet traditional version of this dish. Cleaned up with crusty bread, it’s highly satisfying and perfect now that the weather is cooling.
If it sounds good, try Paella Night on Thursdays. With a minimum booking of two you can enjoy paella washed down with traditional sangria and finished off with succulent churros for just $25.00 per person.
A great bar was just as important as great food, and Gusto has found the perfect custodian in local mixologist, Ben Reekie.
If you like a quality beverage there’s a chance you’ve come across Ben previously. He has worked the bars of many Central Coast favourites including Cara O Cruz, Thaigar Temple and Bombini.
Ben has a relentless passion for what he does and for expanding your palette with amazing spirits, liqueurs, wines and beers. Browse the comprehensive range on the shelves or ask Ben for a recommendation. Even better, go for a cocktail. There is a regular Cocktail of the Week and these are often as imaginative as they are delicious. And, like all good mixologists, Ben puts on a show, with shaking, pouring and the odd bit of pyromania.
Ben serves up classics like an Aperol Spritz or Negroni, or the recently featured cocktail French Connection – Ben’s version has a Gusto twist with the addition of orange zest and honey. There’s always some fun and very tasty shots to try too, like those mentioned earlier. For something new try a Cold Drip Tequila shot, a delicious way to get an extra coffee hit in for the day.
With its mix of covered al fresco dining and indoor areas, Gusto is perfect for all seasons, but I can see it becoming a firm favourite throughout the cooler weather. With the rich, cosy interior, delicious, hearty dishes and cockle-warming drinks, it’s the perfect place to spend a cooler evening.
Gusto is all about mingling, mixing and sharing a drink or a meal. Everything on the menu is designed to be shared with friends, so grab a group this autumn and book a table or lounge area. I guarantee it’ll be hard to resist becoming a regular.
Gusto is also available for functions and can accommodate up to 150 people comfortably.
Call: 02 4342 1703 or
Unit 54-55/ 189, Ocean View Road, Ettalong
Open: Wed–Sun, 6pm–10pm