So, one of my friends decided the other week that she would like to see Menopause The Musical which was on at the Opera House in Manchester. The burning question was Ÿ??Did I want to go as well?Ÿ? Of course I did. I absolutely adore shows and musicals, so I didn’t have to be asked twice. It was a Saturday night and the show started at 7-30pm, so my first thought was Ÿ??Why don’t we do Dinner before the Show?Ÿ? And, indeed, why wouldn’t we? Exactly. No reason whatsoever! I did a bit of research, looking for somewhere local to The Opera House that I hadn’t been to, and before long, I came up with Gusto ( www.gustorestaurants.uk.com/restaurants/Manchester ). Located at 4 Lloyd Street (off Deansgate), Manchester, M2 5AB, it is literally 5 minutes’ walk from the Theatre. A quick phone call reserved a table for 5-30pm, and as far as I was concerned that was that sorted. I must admit, I usually book by email Ÿ?? it saves the male voice / girls name scenario cropping up, but on this occasion I wanted to check times with regard to serving us on time for the Show, so I resorted to the telephone. As you can guess, it went tits up when they called back a couple of days later to Ÿ??confirm the bookingŸ?. They asked for Paul, I said they had the wrong number unless they wanted Paula. They said who they were, and I explained it was Paula they needed to speak to. I then said she wasn’t available, but that I could take a message. It all worked in the end, and I guess they will draw their own conclusions once they have met Paula in the flesh. Saturday soon arrived, and I finished work early, showered, pampered, made up, dressed, accessorized, and did all the usual things I have to do to turn from property basher into Diva. By 4-00pm I was burning rubber towards Manchester heading to pick my friend up on the way in. 5-15pm saw us parking on a side street across from the Opera house, and 5-20pm saw us arriving at Gusto. Military precision isn’t in it! I was amazed at how busy it was at that time in the evening. It’s quite a big place and it was more full than empty. There were lots of people around the bar, and also plenty of diners seated at tables. We introduced ourselves, and had no problems with the Paul / Paula mix up. We were referred to as Ladies, and treated like Ladies all the time we were there. The Staff were politically correct and perfect. We were shown up some steps to a table on a raised area, and our chairs were pulled out from under the table for us to sit on. I was beginning to like it here! Drinks were offered and ordered Ÿ?? a white wine and soda for my friend, and a diet coke pour moi. We were also left with menus to peruse and discuss. I noticed the five ladies on the next table had Opera House tickets out on the table, so no points for guessing what their plans for the evening were. We ordered a Garlic Pizza Bread with rosemary and sea salt to be going on with, and then set about the usual debate as to what we fancied to eat. The choice was good, and it didn’t take us long to come up with a plan. It was a simple plan, and it went something like thisŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?íŸ?í I was to start with Tiger prawns in a garlic, tomato and cream sauce with grilled ciabatta, and my friend was to have the creamed Garlic mushrooms with grilled ciabatta and crispy shallots, I was then to follow this choice with pan fried salmon fillet, tomato and avocado salsa and spiced crumb, whilst my menopausal partner was to tackle the roast lamb rump, with truffled cheese flavored piccolo ravioli and tomato sauce. To this order, we added sides of creamy mashed potato with pesto, and french beans with shallots. As I said, a simple plan, but cunning nevertheless! The garlic bread had by now arrived, and it was massive. Was this going to be classic case of bigger eyes than bellies? Let’s see. We cut it up with the pizza cutting wheel they provided, and sat chomping away; pausing only for the usual bubbly conversation we have together. Slowly, but very surely it disappeared, and at what can only be described as a perfectly timed moment, our starters arrived. Again, we diligently plodded our way through the starters, working as a team until the plates were empty. Our plates were cleared, and we were given a little time to let things settle, before a further delivery to the table saw it covered in food laden porcelain once again. We tackled the main courses with the same level of enthusiasm as the previous two courses, sampling a bit of each other’s choice, sharing out the side dishes, and generally showing the World how proficient we really are at this eating lark. It just isn’t a problem to us at all! Our Waitress checked that everything was OK, and we were pampered without being pestered. We chatted and ate, ate and chatted, and before too long, we were in a position to send some squeaky clean crockery back towards the kitchen. The food was lovely, and there wasn’t a scrap left on either plate. I must admit, I was pretty full by now, and when the inevitable threat of a dessert menu was aimed our way, I really did wonder whether we would be able to meet the challenge. We agreed to have a look just in case, but the general feeling was that we may on this occasion pass on the pudding! At this point, I would ask that you maybe hit the Gusto website, and check out the desserts. This may help you understand why we ordered one each. It may help you to understand that we really just couldn’t resist what was on offer, and it may go towards helping you to realise that we aren’t greedy Ÿ?? just weak willed. The Jury was out for less than five seconds before it came in with a verdict of death by dessert, sentencing us to two summer berry and prosecco jelly with tropical fruit salsa and Eton mess ice creams. To be eaten one each by the accused as and when served by the staff. It was a stiff sentence, but we were brave and took our punishment well, showing the highest levels of self-respect possible. Once again we triumphed and sent the Waitress back with empty dishes. Throughout our meal, the Clientele of the Restaurant changed, people leaving, and people arriving, continually busy all the time we were there. Nobody gave me any unwanted attention, and as I mentioned before, the staff were great. The timing had worked out perfectly, with the time now being about 6-45pm. Just nice time for us to have a large Baileys on ice each. A superb end to what I would class as a superb meal. We finally left our table and paid our bill at 7-10pm, leaving us with a 5 minute walk along a busy Deansgate back to the Opera House, where I had the pleasure of standing next to and smiling at the lady from my accountants who comes every 3 months and does our VAT returns. She hadn’t a clue who I was, and I left it that way until she comes next time. She knows about Paula and has seen the many pics on my office wall, but as she was with another few ladies, I felt it more appropriate to be discreet. The show was hilarious, and if you ever get chance to see it, you must. Followed by a few drinks in The Village, 3-00am saw us feeling the effects of an early start and hectic night out! I will of course now answer the three questions that are the overall cause of all this writing in the first place: Is Gusto TV friendly? Yes, very much so. Apart from the mix up with the Paul/Paula which I guess is inevitable on a telephone, everything was perfect. Value for money? The bill for the meal described above was ô?91-95, which we rounded up to ô?100-00 including a tip. Overall, I felt this was about right Ÿ?? it’s a big place, with a lot of staff and other overheads, and the food and service was spot on. Unfortunately, I have sat and read the bill in order to write this, and the fact that we were charged ô?4-00 for a diet coke, and ô?8-00 for a glass of what in effect would be house white wine, bites me. It’s just the sheer principle of it. That said, I am going to stick with my original feeling that the bill was right for what we got, and say that I believe we got value for money. Overall. Forgetting the diet coke and the wine! Would I go again? I most certainly would, and hopefully before too long! I guess the drinks prices weren’t that bad after all.