Delectable, delightful, downright amazing. I've been to Arbutus a few times but my latest visit saw the food and service rise to new heights. I generally love the approach to food - odd, unpopular cuts made into great plates. This time I had the pigs head, ox cheek and cold chocolate fondant.
Everything was divine, especially the fondant.
One tip I'd advise is choosing carafes. You can taste so many different wines in a meal without getting completely pissed. For lunch times, that's sound advice.
Disclaimer: We actually emailed most of this review to Arbutus right after our dinner because we felt that somebody should know about our rather awful experience. Alas, it's been 2 weeks and not a peep from them, so here's the review.
We came here with my family who were in town visiting, and were actually really looking forward to coming here; it had been on our list places to try for a while.
My family and I quite like the food itself, in particular the pig's head starter, beef main, and dulce de leche - unfortunately our experience was marred by the surprisingly poor service for a place that expensive and well-established.
We were approached by our server (who never introduced herself or made clear that she would be our server) only twice without our prompting; once to bring bread (which was before any drink orders had been taken or given) and to order mains (also again before any drinks orders had been taken). We had to flag her down for everything else: cocktails, wine, clarification on items, further drink orders. At one point I asked her politely if somebody could 'please check up on us once in a while?' but she didn't change her behavior.
Additionally, there was no clarity in anything - we asked for a martini with a specific gin and were told 'we don't have that' rather brusquely and were brought a drinks menu without comment or advice. At the same time I ordered a negroni I actually had no idea whether she had heard me or if my drink was actually coming as she didn't acknowledge my order. We also asked for wine recommendations (both times I had to flag her down and direct her to my father who had questions). When we asked her to tell us more about the cod and mullet dishes, her only answer was 'Cod. Cod is meatier,' in those exact words, without any further description of the dish or any other information.
Sadly I cannot say this was due to being busy or under staffing - while waiting for our cocktails (we only ordered two and the two other members of the table were never asked if we wanted other drinks) I visited the rest room and saw our server chatting with another server with glasses at the cash register in between the two rooms, in a place where they would not have been able to see any customers actually trying to get their attention. We also repeatedly saw all servers standing on top of the step looking into the dining room chatting but not tending to guests.
After dinner we actually sat for a long time and chatted - at which point I would have actually loved a whiskey or after dinner drink, but once again, nobody so much as looked our way.
Overall the food was pretty good but it's tough to justify dining here when the service is so unreliable - it made it impossible to relax when I kept having to check whether my parents needed anything and then spend a few minutes finding someone to flag down to take the order, ignoring the conversation and once actually knocking over a glass in my arm waving to get attention.
I wanted some Modern British food but what we got was that plus many French inspired dishes. Whether I would go back for more I'm not sure. We came for an early dinner without a reservation and were promptly seated at the marble bar that is in the entrance to the restaurant. There was space for about 10 people and soon after we arrived most of the seats were filled with walk-in including a Japanese speaking couple who were kitty corner from us. I mention this because the biggest issue we had at Arbutus was with the service. In particular the server/barman, a French man made fun of the Japanese couple both in English and French when he could not understand them. Truth be told we as native English and French speakers had a hard time understanding the French server and the problem was not the diners but the server! Really unacceptable behavior. Perhaps because of his issues, during the second half of the meal another server took care of us and the Japanese couple. The French server also did not describe the dishes or answer questions. The service was not what I would expect at a Michelin starred restaurant. The service was 1 star, the food was 4 star.
As I said I wanted to try modern British food so we ordered four appetizers and one main dish to share.
Snail on a cheese bread
Dorset crab, avocado guacamole, peanut and Provençal figs. £10.50
Squid and mackerel 'burger', Cornish razor clams. £11.50
Pieds et paquets - lambs' tripe, shoulder, trotters. £16.00
Warm crisp pig's head, potato purée, pickled turnip, pistachio. £7.50
The portions were all generous and compared to other London 1 star Michelin's the cost was very reasonable with no dishes over 20 pounds.
The Peids et paquet was very large with enough food for two unless you really love minced meat. Traditionally It consists of stuffed sheep's offal and sheep's feet stewed together. This verison has the lamb shoulder minced and in offal in a stew with tripe. The trotters were turned into a pate that was served after the meal and was probably the best part of the dish. There was also bits of lamb crackling. It was an interesting dish but not one I would probably get again.
The crab & guacamole was a very Californian dish made more continental with the additons of the figs. It was a good delicate dish.
The warm crisp pig's head was made into a terrine and it was delightful with the puree and pickled turnips and a good portions for the price.
The squif and mackrel burger was the French Spouse's main dish and she liked everything about it except the small size of the "burger".
The snails served on this odd cheese potenta textured like bread was a very interesting dish but was a bit overpowered by the beef based stock that was used to make the sauce that covered everything.
We ordered too much food, even 2 appetizers and one main would have been enough for us.
The food was a very solid 4 stars but the service made the meal unpleasant at the beginning.
It does not appear to be wheelchair accessible. The lighting was quite dim and the noise was average.
I had a business lunch here earlier this week. I like the style of this place- it feels a little cold but in quite a good, stylish way (*yes,vague comment). The menu changes every day but from my experience, this place is excellent. I booked it because of its good reviews from Yelp, I had NO idea at all that it had a michelin star. That being said, it deserves the star. It's not poncy or pretentious, just a nice place to kick back and eat good food. It's actually pretty reasonable for a lunch for this quality, the lunch set me back under £75 for two people with soft drinks, coffee and two courses each, including service at 12.5%.
Our waiter was really lovely- accommodating but not fussy. The food was tasty- I had a crab starter, and a cod main. The cod was particularly good - it came with a very odd looking basil crunch on top of it- which was absolutely outstanding.
I would return, definitely. A great spot for an important business meal.
This is an austere place that means to be austere. It feels like an artisanal martini: cool, precise, balanced but with a remnant warmth and happiness left behind when it's all done. And yet it somehow avoids falling into pretention or snootiness, there's a casual, pleasant feel to the whole experience. A tough balance to strike, and I admire that they've hit it so precisely.
There are a lot of original ideas on the menu, though as is the case in many restaurants where the idea for plating and look comes first, the food may at times feel as if it's an unrelated series of flavors or even a bit too understated in terms of its flavor. This is a faint criticism: much of what I've had here I've found to be both strikingly flavorful and visually interesting.
I'd also argue that the price point here in relation to the cuisine is unusually favorable--you can get in and out here with much less damage to your wallet than a Michelin star would normally inflict.
Oh my goodness. Stop reading and just go here. Please.
Everything about Arbutus was excellent. All around a 5-star experience. Of course the food was great, but something that set this apart from other places was the chef did not need to rely on rich creams, sauces, etc. to make the food flavorful. This was done by using the highest quality ingredients and then preparing the food in a way where the natural flavors were brought out and enhanced. With each course, I found myself saying "wow this is the best [blank] I think I've ever had." I had dinner with a party of 5 and we will ordered different dishes. Each person seemed just as satisfied with their meal.
Additionally, the cocktails and wine list were great. The service was also top-notch. They were attentive without being pushy. It felt efficient but at the same time laid back.
The ambiance is also great: a casual elegance that is hard to achieve at most places. It was a very comfortable and pleasant place to share a good meal with some friends.
Additionally, for all the you are getting, the prices are reasonable, making the experience even more enjoyable.
I would definitely come here again and would recommend this to anyone I know coming through London.
A very good restaurant with friendly unpretentious service.
Informal, rustic, Michelin dining, 3 course for £38....great value, worth every penny.
Warm pigs head - soft melt in the mouth
Bouillabaisse - perfectly cooked fish, you can taste all the deep fish/shellfish flavours, very good
Chocolate aero, with caramel - chocolate aero was so, so, caramel amazing light & fluffy.
Will be back soon.
After one outstanding experience where I fell in love with this place and one bad one (cold food) a few years ago - pre Michelin star days - it had been quite a while since I had been to Arbutus but decided to give it another go.
I had the warm pigs head to start, which was good, but not outstanding. It was a little lacking in flavour but a perfectly acceptable dish. My partner had the squid and mackerel 'burger' with razor clams, which I didn't taste but he enjoyed.
My main course was a triumph. I had beef, which came with a meltingly creamy gratin dauphinois on the side. It had been cooked beautifully and was just how I like it (on the rare side of medium-rare), but the top of it was something I had never seen before: it had the texture of crispy duck skin and a taste to die for. I would go back for a second helping in a heartbeat!
My co-diner had saddle of rabbit, which he said was delicious, but not quite as good as my beef (I insisted he try some). His dish came with another outstanding side dish, which was a shepherd's pie. It was buttery and full of flavour - tarragon came through quite strongly - and had pieces of perfectly-cooked lamb (not mince) dotted through it.
For dessert, we shared the pear clafoutis. This takes 25 minutes to prepare, so if you're going to go for it, you might want to think about ordering early. It was tasty and a very nice dish and came with a delicious, large and very thick helping of vanilla ice cream (it was like clotted cream with vanilla). However, it was way too big for the two of us and the batter was a little too spongy.
The prices here are great for what you get and even the wine list's prices are modest. The service has always been excellent. Some dishes can be a little disappointing. It's worth it though for the outstanding ones!
Ate here back in January when my parents came to town and, we all agreed, it was among the best restaurant meals we'd ever had. The food was top quality - from the squid and scallop "burger" starter straight through the most bizarre yet delicious dessert we'd ever had, some sort of hot and cold orange meringue.
We made reservations last minute, so they fit us in on three chairs at the bar which could have been terrible. However, the service is top notch and we never felt awkward or stepped around in our seats. One of the bar staff heard my father asking questions about one of their martinis, so when someone ordered one, he made a bit extra and gave it to my father to try - along with the recipe!
Overall, the staff seems to go above and beyond to give you a truly fabulous dining experience.
Yum. I only went for lunch but this place was fancy AND it's quite reasonably priced considering it has a Michelin star (although I could see no evidence of this I assume it has one based on the other reviews).
They also do 3 courses for less than £20 at lunchtime which is amazing considering this is prime Soho real estate and restaurants way out east do similar deals for the same price without the star.
The staff were perfect and the place allows reservations which is a change in this neck of the woods. It wasn't extremely busy at 1pm so I'd imagine you could probably just walk in, but not on a Saturday night - I've tried that and it ain't happening.
It doesn't bode well when the best part of the meal was the cheese course.
We shared the mackerel and squid 'burger' with cockles. I'm unclear where the burger reference comes from given that it was essentially a fish cake on a piece of squid. It was nice but not remarkable in any way.
We then both had the cod with chicken wing with grapefruit compote and greens. I am still confused as to what the point of this dish was. The fish was nicely cooked but lacked any flavour (I suppose it's cod after all). The chicken wing was probably the highlight but let's be honest - it was still just a deep fried chicken wing. I didn't quite understand what the point of the grapefruit compote was. The dish just didn't hang together and the presentation didn't help. It was like four things plopped on a plate.
But the cheese course was lovely. But really - it's hardly the most complicated part of the meal.
Arbutus was a complete disappointment. Definitely not going back.
Had the pre-theater dinner here which is great value at £18.95 for two courses and £20.95. The service is exemplary, the decor and environment are excellent and you can hear each other talk easily, without it in any way feeling like a mausoleum.
Each of our dishes were delicious - the minestrone soup, a cold sliced lamb starter, a papardelle with shredded beef main and a pineapple cheesecake. No one tried the alternative main of chesse and spinach gnudi. They were substantial but not too heavy - just what's required eating so early and having a deadline to make. My only real criticism was that they all featured pasta in some way, so the balance of the menu was lacking.
We enjoyed our wine. I thought the list was somewhat overprice so went at the cheap end, with a syrah/grenache mix from near the Rhone. Everyone else loved it: I thought it tasted a bit Californian - alcoholic Ribena style and would have preferred something with more finesse, especially for £26.
All in all, highly recommended and I will go back.
I think that the reason they are not Michelin starred is more about having modern cuisine than about the food or experience. The waitstaff were excellent, reaching that delicate balance between being too attentive and being hard to find. The food...excellent. I had the ravioli for a starter - goat cheese stuffed ravioli where instead of pasta, they used paper-thin veal slices. Delicious. Main course was Cod with baby squid in ink on the side. The cod was done perfectly,with a nice char and done just to the edge of flakiness. Dessert was a cold chocolate fondant that was perfect. This was a rare eating experience I will remember and share.
Food served in a creative manner using fresh ingredients is how to describe the style of food. Do make sure to have reservations as this place does get packed.
For appetizers we had the infamous mackerel burger that brought me back to my fondest memories of the delicacy of seafood from Lucca, Italy. The filled pasta was done perfectly.
For entrees, we had the rabbit and lamb roast which was quite tasty and not overlooked. They were presented in a different way that coordinated with the minimalist modern decor of this place.
Service was good, but not perfect since it was busy. I noticed in Europe in the nicer dining places, there are no sub specialties such as a water person or bus boy as the waiters really had to multi-task.
It is located on a quieter street, we got off on Leichester Square from the subway to get there.
London for a day. This restaurant was across from my fabulous hotel built in 1718.
Great environment. Terrific service. I sat at the bar, my preferred place to eat when eating/travelling alone.
I order the well priced, 2 course lunch special...really can't beat this! I had the ravioli rabbit but it was not pasta. Second course: split chicken with italian greens and potatoes au gratin (it was good but not extraordinary).
Nicely presented plates.
The toast of food critics for a couple of years, Arbutus has managed to retain its Michelin star this year and a second restaurant in the group, Wild Honey, has opened in Mayfair.
Located at the Soho Square end of Frith Street, Arbutus displays a sophisticated yet unstuffy dining room through the large windows. There is a traditional dining room but there are also smaller funky tables in the bar area
Meeting with my friend Ruth who has been working in China for the last 2 years, I suggested trying Arbutus. We were able to walk in without a reservation on a Monday evening.
The menu changes regularly and gets updated on the website every Wednesday with a few dishes changing each time, depending on produce available.
Service was knowledgeable and friendly - no fine dining airs and graces here. Tap water was offered and accepted. I liked my freshly squeezed OJ and Ruth was very happy with her American red wine, describing it as complex with dominant blackberry
The food was packed with flavour. The kitchen isn't afraid to go with less common ingredients and displays a confident hand in extracting maximum essence and depth of flavour through cooking techniques and pairing the main ingredients with accompaniments that contrast and complement them
For our starters, braised pig's head arrived as a terrine of unctuous meat with a swirl of potato puree and ravioli of caramelised onion. Oily intense smoked eel was offset by sweetcorn puree, sweet & turnip and crispy deboned chicken wings
I was interested to note that the waiter didn't ask how Ruth wanted her bavette of beef cooked but it arrived just as she liked it - medium rare - with a side dish of rich gratin dauphinoise. I couldn't resist the 'pieds et paquets' (lambs' tripe parcels & trotters). The trotter meat was wrapped in the tripe - almost like a faggot and I loved the deep flavour.
We only had space to share an exemplary creme brulee for dessert accompanied by a home made shortcake finger.
This is cooking of the highest class
Arbutus is a rare find in the centre of bustling Soho - a fantastic restaurant, it's relaxed, intimate and above all serves great food. I came here with five friends for my partner's birthday and we had the £15 set lunch. What a bargain! Yes, the portions were pretty small, but this was tasty food and served in lovely surroundings by friendly staff.
The food is modern French I'd probably say; I had ox tongue roulade, eel risotto and custard tart. The ox tongue was beautiful, it was served with celeriac and a mustard dressing. The risotto was a little salty but tasty nevertheless. The custard tart was beautiful, although the portion was a bit mean.
The wine list was also extensive and well priced. We had a lovely Jade (sp?) to start followed by a great Sav Blanc that was a little bit overpowering, and a beautiful Bandol Rose to finish. All in all including one medium-sized glass of wine with each course, the bill came to £35 including service. Which I think is a big fat bargain! Especially for a Michelin star restaurant.
I'd love to go again, and eat off the a la carte menu, but I think I'd need to save up a few more pennies first. Main course are pretty expensive and coupled with a few nice glasses of wine, you're into pretty pricey territory. But, until that day, sign me up for the set lunch anytime. It really is that great.
Situated in the heart of Soho is this gem of a place, which serves an interesting, wholesome menu based on French influence. Arbutus is a breath of fresh air for high-end restaurants around London as it is perhaps one of the least expensive of the Michelin starred restaurants here. It offers a fantastic 3 course lunch menu for £15.50 where diners can enjoy great food at an affordable price. For an award-winning restaurant this is a great price.
However, their a la carte menu is not the cheapest, where the highest price for a main meal would be £19. However, this is a snitch compared to the prices of the many other high- end restaurants within central London. Nevertheless, the food is definitely worth paying for. The menu changes constantly and you can find interesting dishing with a curious melange of ingredients such as haunch of venison with beetroot marmalade and saddle of rabbit with shoulder cottage pie! And their desserts are delectable, I tend to go for the creme brulee, always made to perfection!
All food is well presented yet without the fussiness a normal top-end restaurant usually spends time worried over.
It is always advisable to make reservations in advance if you want to secure a table. As even after having been running for 2 years, the restaurant is still always bustling with diners all throughout the day and evening. I have been frequently with my father, and we always opt to sit on the high seats by the bar as it's generally a lot quieter and more relaxing than the main dining area, and you get served your drinks a lot faster.
Wine starts at about £12.95 a bottle. However, a rare but important touch is that you can order pretty much the majority of the wines on the list by 250ml carafes, for flexibility of choice.
If you're looking for high-end dining on a budget, you can't do much better than Arbutus. A three-course lunch menu goes for a reasonable £16.95 and for £18.95 you can get a three-course dinner off the pre- or post-theatre menu. As long as you're seated before seven or after ten, you can enjoy a great dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant for a price that would be reasonable in dollars.
Just as a side note for tourists, though, a Michelin star in Europe does not mean the same thing as a Michelin star in the States. At Arbutus you are not showered with attention, and the setting is nice but rather casual. I like this fine and found the restaurant charming and laid-back. Service was certainly helpful enough, just on the informal side. If you want a pampering experience, you might have to shell out elsewhere.
I came to Arbutus with a party of four at around 6:45 on a Friday. It was a perfectly normal time for dinner, and we took advantage of the pre-theatre menu. This was printed at the bottom of the main menu, with two options for each of three courses. Between the two of us, Matt B. and I ordered everything.
First, though, we enjoyed multiple pieces of Arbutus's bread. There was a nice white and a wonderful brown bread. This latter was soft and dense with a great sponge to it. The bread was served with good butter. We also ordered a bottle of wine for the table off an affordable wine list. We got a lovely bottle of tempranillo for £17.50.
The meal started with thinly sliced pork "porchetta" and an English kale and potato soup. The porchetta was the lesser of the two, though it was pretty decent. The pork was thin and lean and somewhat reminiscent of turkey, which is not bad, but not how I prefer my pork. It was served with an apple puree and a pretty nest of green salad with a bright, light dressing and a shave of parmesan. The soup was delicious, and a splendid way to start dinner. It was rustic and hearty, thick with stewed kale and starchy potato along with melting gobs of cheese. It was the sort of well-seasoned, satisfying soup that you scrape from every surface of the bowl.
Both of the entrees were right on point. The venison shoulder was braised fork-tender, with a velvety texture and heavy meat flavor. It was enhanced by a dark, earthy sauce that I suspect was predominantly meat juice. The venison was served with a side of luscious polenta with parmesan that was gritty on the tongue but smooth down the gullet, as well as some softened carrot. The Cornish gurnard was another winner. I'm not sure what sort of fish this is, and when you Google it, Arbutus is one of the first hits. In any case, it was delicious, a fillet of firm white fish cooked just right, skin-on and appropriately moist. It was served on a mound of awesome herb risotto, done al dente with great green flavors, including a significant dose of mint.
Dessert was where I thought Arbutus kind of phoned it in. The two options were Brie de Meaux and a treacle tart. The Brie de Meaux was good cheese, a creamy yellow brie that managed to be interesting. The presentation, though, was downright lazy. It came on a plate with a single strip that looked like it had been placed haphazardly by tongs. Next to it was a small piece of bread and a chutney of some kind. I suspect it was tamarind, but when I asked, our server simply said she didn't know. In any case, it was tasty, and I'm not saying I didn't like the cheese. The treacle tart I actually disliked. It was cloying and goopy, and even a small scoop of vanilla ice cream didn't help to cut the sugar.
Even so, I feel positive about Arbutus overall. The food ranged from good to excellent, and while the desserts were a bit disappointing I was very happy with the meal and felt that it was a fantastic value. Matt and I picked up the tab, as we'd been crashing with our friends, and the total charge, including an "optional" 12.5% service charge, was around $170 for four people. I realize that isn't exactly a steal, but for a good three-course meal with wine, it didn't really sting. I've been to Wild Honey for lunch as well and it offers similarly great food for great value. I would recommend either of these restaurants to out-of-towners looking for a wallet-friendly meal that is still an indulgence.
Why is it that as soon as someone is awarded for outstanding achievement in a particular field, more often than not we are waiting round the corner like a pack of wolves for the slightest slip-up? There seems to be sadistic pleasure in watching someone's success come crumbling down around them. The same could be said of Anthony Demetre's Arbutus, which achieved one Michelin star in 2007. They didn't ask for the acclaim. Sure they may have been working hard towards recognition but you can't apply for a star by sending coupons to the Michelin man. (This does NOT mean that I think Obama should keep the Nobel Peace Prize by the way.)
I think Arbutus receives unwarranted criticism for its more casual approach to dining and the use of cheaper ingredients than one might expect in a restaurant at this level. I think they are doing what they do very well, and should continue to do it. The dining room was reasonably busy yesterday evening for pre-theatre service. Front of house are polite and attentive but not overly so, and it's quite refreshing to have some room to breathe. Wine for instance, is kept on the table for guests to pour themselves.
A starter of oxtail with macaroni was delightfully tender in a rich olive oil sauce. Also to start was an interesting if slightly fatty pig's head terrine with potato puree and onion ravioli. My main of saddle of rabbit with liver wrapped in prosciutto and served with a rabbit cottage pie was very rich and hearty but a little under-seasoned. Finally, a dessert of Panna cotta and caramelised apple with a shortbread biscuit was bland and uninspiring.
So the quality of food was mixed I admit, but overall it was accomplished and tasty. It is also extremely good value here. Well worth a visit, especially if you're tired of the side dish of pomp that is usually served in spades at Michelin level.
Visiting a friend in London, it was between this one and Joel Robuchon, the two links I found on a food deals site. Arbutus was able to take our reservation, and we got the pre-theater fixed price menu, which at £17.50 is great value for a Michelin-starred restaurant - the fixed price menu seems to be a growing trend in the better restaurants. The lamb to start was memorable, we got window seats, didn't scare off anyone around us with our conversation, the service was timely, and it was topped off with an excellent bottle of syrah-grenache recommended by the maitre d'.
It was a memorable meal as much for the company as anything else, but the food and ambience were a large part of it too - an easy recommendation.
I could cut and paste Yee Gan's review here, but plagiarism really isn't my thing. But I like what he says..
The food is really tasty and full of flavours that compliment one another. They aren't afraid the experiment and that is one of things I liked most about Arbutus - it is very easy to have a whole meal trying new things. It's not just one of those places which does classics well.
I went for a semi-special occasion and Arbutus seemed just about perfect for that. Not a place you'd go regularly, but not so highbrow that you can't go again and again. Loved it.
I was a little apprehensive going to a Michelin star restaurant as my heart truly lays with down and dirty street food. However, I was pleasantly surprised by this place.
Having just glanced at the menu the crisp ox tongue, beetroot and hazelnut salad, sorrel mayonnaise for an appetiser caught my attention straight away. For mains I was in the mood for some game, so went for the roast rabbit, shoulder cottage pie, artichokes, carrots and pancetta.
One must ignore the unappealing appearance of the ox tongue, as the flavour and texture is of an indulgent affair. The tongue was fatty with a melt in your mouth consistency and the flavour, incredibly rich. You could say it was rather sublime. The ox tongue itself is rather large (it could almost be a main), so if you're a small eater you have been warned.
The main was great, I thoroughly enjoyed the rabbit, it was roasted to perfection, and the flavour was wholesome. It's been a while since I've had rabbit and it was an enjoyable tongue tasting experience revisited. The cottage pie was delightful too and the mashed potato was light and fluffy, with a slight crispy top layer that makes a crunching sound when you break into it with a spoon - just how I like it.
For dessert I had the classic English custard tart. This in itself was rather mediocre, which is why my rating falls one star short of five. I guess I expected a little more from it and in retrospect I should have ordered the cold chocolate fondant, chocolate wafer, salted caramel ice cream instead.
Staff were attentive, friendly (not feigned) and they all seemed genuinely enthusiastic when talking about the food they were serving. They certainly deserved the extra tip we threw in at the end of the meal. The general atmosphere when we were there was relaxed which made the whole eating experience a lot more pleasurable.
If you're unsure about the £35-£45 per head (excluding wine) for your first visit here, the pre-theatre 3 course set meal for £18.95 is well worth trying out as an 'introduction' to this restaurant.
One of the top 10 meals I've ever had was this past week at Arbutus!
I am trying not to gush with compliments, but I found my complete dinning experience here spectacular. Outstanding food, cozy yet elegant atmosphere, and extremely good service. Had one of their signature dishes of Warm Onion Tart and Salmon, followed by their Plat du Jour of Pork Bolognese Parpadelle, and finished with a heavenly, lighter then air Floating Island with Pink Praline, Out of this world!
Another note worth mentioning is their impressive wines by the glass. Many restaurants have 'cheaper' or less exciting wines by the glass, but at Arbutus you will find a premium glass of wine to pair with you meal.
While a bit out of place in Soho, the prices while not cheap, are a better value then most restaurants of this high caliber. The dinning area is fairly small and set in a house, which keeps it cozy, but you need to book a bit in advance. Worth the effort and every penny.
Reasonably priced, beautiful decor and outstanding food? Absolutely I'm a fan!
We found the service attentive but not intrusive. I ordered two starters for my app / main, and loved the size of the portions. We loved all we ate here - I just couldn't believe I was getting such QUALITY for the price.
Most memorable dish for me was the beetroot salad with ricotta cheese. Delish!
I can't imagine anyone being disappointed with this place - it's getting everything right for prices most can afford.
Arbutus has re-opened last August due to redecoration.... And OOOOMG how fabulous does it look! Marble bar, marble tables, pure luxurious look & feel.
The food is excellent, perhaps a bit too salty for my taste, but not enough seasoning is always worse. I started with the Scottish tartare, which was absolutely the way it should be: raw, spring onions and an egg.
The main course I chose, was cod fillet and a boneless, crispy chicken wing. The combination of these two seems a bit odd to me, and they were very tasty both. But for me, the fillet of cod on its own would have worked just fine, perhaps even better..... But I am not complaining here, because taste-wise: YUMMM. Oeh oeh and it came with kale, and as blond Dutch girl; I - heart- kale!
Service was fine, no comments on that actually.
And they have this brilliant 'ordering-wine-concept': You can order a carafe of 250 ml. of wine, so that's about two glasses. Perfect to share, because than you can have a different wine for each course, without ordering bottles!
Now, why just 4 stars and not 5?? I dunno, but I just feel that it's a 4-start place and perhaps it was a Monday night, but it was not that impeccable to give it 5 stars.
Still l-o-v-e for Arbutus!
Went here last week for a customer dinner (at his suggestion). I struggled getting in at first... as I kept trying to open the wrong door (duh, it's the one on the left).
Had the mackerel burger with razor clams, which this place is famous for... and god that was actually damn good... it's not really a burger, more like a fish cake, but man was it yummy. I half expected the razor clams to be squishy and rubbery, but they were extremely subtle to the palate... and worked very well with the mackerel burger.
We then attacked the scottish beef fillet; we told the waiter to hold the salsify, but we ordered the gratin dauphinois and mash instead. The gratin was TO DIE FOR... and definitely had some serious dosage of creme fraiche, but it was melt in your mouth gorgeous. The beef was perfectly cooked (I had mine medium rare, my customer had his rare)... and we drowned our entrees with a beautiful bottle of Barabarela.
For dessert we ordered the Pear Clafoutis... being French, we have pretty high standards for clafoutis; this really wasn't one, but it was an absolutely delicious pear tart with a frangipane base.
Great place for a business dinner... or dinner with friends... the atmosphere isn't exactly romantic, so I wouldn't come here on date night... but the food is absolutely excellent.
130£ for 2 with wine.
Lovely food, really great service, nice decor, and not too pricey for the quality.
-Mackeral burger - freakin awesome
-Tomato & goats cheese salad - really tasty cheese but a bit boring after a few bites
-Smooked eel - very tasty with lotsa flavors
-Rabbit with rabbit pie - soooo good
-Steak - cooked really well but not the best slice of meat. potatoes were amazing
-Bream - very tasty
-Chocolate fondant - kind of disappointing
-Pear sponge - heavenly
-Panna Cotta - light and refreshing
-Ladybird Cabernet Franc/Merot - smooth, smoky, fruity, yummy
With the current craze being for reservation free dining, unless you're actively surfing ahead of that zeitgeist or are prepared to huddle in the cold for 45 minutes minimum even for a table at 7, you'll be left wistfully wishing you'd got 'it' before Twitter did. New dining is about social support networks, and by the time you read about it in the old media, it's probably already jumped the shark.
Thankfully you don't have to try and corral your less cool friends into the latest reservation free pop up as the plethora of these has thankfully given you an excuse to revisit slightly quieter options that don't feature on the Twits radar.
Arbutus is one of these. Just off Soho Square, it's a clean contemporary dining room serving clean and contemporary seasonal Modern European food. They specialise in some of the biggest of flavours, put together with the lightest of touches. I start with a contender for best starter of the last few years; squid and mackrel 'burger'. Infinitely better than it sounds, it's an absolutely joyous hockey puck of freshest seafood that absolutely hits the back of the net for me and my Cordon Bleu trained dining guest.
If you prefer dining out to involve a bit more effort on the part of the chef than just piling good ingredients on a plate then you'll be pleased. There's a real sense of craft demonstrated here that stops short of showing off.
Chef Demetre delights in multiple incarnations of ingredients in each dish, in this case rabbit for Cordon Bleu and tripe for me. To be honest, the portion sizes got a bit messy. I know offal is cheap but I literally have four large plates to plough through. Slow cooked as an enormous cassoulet on the side is marvellous melting and soft. Topped with crisp parsley crumb, a distinctive uric tang rises with the steam. It's not that, but the portion size that defeats me in the end.
Less successful is the small plate of slightly soft chewy crackling served alongside. It's a fatty afterthought that doesn't add much to the meal and is mostly ignored. The main dish was a Marsailles style rustic dish known as Pieds-Paquets, tripe stuffed with chopped ham, garlic and herbs, rolled into little parcels and simmered for 6-7 hours. Just when I thought I was done, a final meaty flourish gave me a toast topper of fine chopped garlicky tripe. Superb, but I had meat coming out of my ears.
By contrast Cordon Bleu's shoulder pie and saddle of rabbit were positively Lilliputian. They seemed to go down well, he was scraping the tiny Staubb receptacle clean while I was still ploughing gamely on. It's a good thing he talks more than I do...
Their set lunch is one of the best business dining options in Soho and at £50 a head including a decent bottle of something ertzatz and Italian, dinner doesn't need to break the bank. In a pleasantly surprising touch, a cheaper bottle is recommended when our first choice isn't available, I only wish more restaurants would dare to do this. Another nice touch at the three restaurants in the group is the vast number of wines available by the carafe.
Arbutus may not have the blistering white hot buzz of nearby transient neighbours, but it sure as hell competes on quality. Take advantage of the fact that everyone is currently queuing outside somewhere else.
What a pleasure! In a beautiful space and convenient location, Arbutus offered my friend, my wife, and me a welcome venue for a fine meal, where we could converse comfortably and enjoy very well prepared food. The wine list was nicely priced, not exhaustive, and still offered good variety. The service came off a bit rushed (they were very strict with their 2-hour table limit -- my biggest pet peeve about London restaurants), but provided helpful guidance with the menu.
I ate the terrine as my first course and followed with the chicken for my main. The terrine was nicely balanced, well assembled, and benefitted from a simplified presentation allowing the natural beauty to shine through. Though always reticent to order something as basic as roast chicken in a restaurant, my dish was fantastic. Nicely roasted, the skin was crisp yet delicate, and the native flavors of the chicken, coupled with a proper application of salt, came through perfectly. The accompanying mushroom risotto was a textural disappointment with under-cooked rice, but the flavor complimented the chicken well.
All of this, plus a bill, including wine, of forty pounds per person made for a memorable, successful experience that I look forward to repeating soon.
Delicately plated British food in an artful place. Arbutus received a lot of press upon opening and the chef has a cookbook out. Beyond this I recommend it for food oriented people who may be walking through Soho, seeing a show or at the British Museum. The food could be a bit "fancy" for some but I enjoy the restaurant.
The set lunch menu is a good value and wine is offered by the craft or bottle. If you enjoy cookbooks, the chef has included items from his book on the daily menu. These items are noted with a mark. This is a small venue so call ahead for a table.
Ummmm...Muscat. I still taste the yummy buttery carmel-appl-ee taste in my mouth, so yes this is a slightly buzzed review as I decided to drink my dessert instead of ordering Tarte Tatin.
So I put on my NY/San Francisco restaurant snob hat when I go to a place like Arbutus to see if it will deliver. And the answer is......drumroll please, not quite.
Well, let's start off with the food. Bread was good, although butter was rock solid hard. Faux pas!
The Malbec we had was good, but kind of dull. Nothing extraordinary.
Between us we had three starters, and then the steak and sea bream. All decent, but I've just had better. Some things were under-salted (like the potatoes that accompanied the steak), and the squid burger was a bit too salty.
And for a place like this, the desserts were boring--your typical creme carmel, poached pear, chocolate fondant and tarte tatin. Come on people--INNOVATE. We passed on dessert and I ordered Muscat instead. Ummmm....muscat. Happiness.
The waitstaff was a bit surly which was topped off by them giving us the wrong bill.
The good thing is that we were able to get a table walking in at 8:30 on a Wednesday....but that just shows that it is not the stellar hot-spot haute cuisine I was hoping for....
I took a friend here last week for lunch, after reading great reviews and walking past it for months with a curious eye.
Straight away I felt happy with my choice, as the front of house staff were polite and friendly without being that air of superiority that you often get at a Michelin starred restaurant.
The interior is light, but perhaps a little straightforward. It's basically a long oblong room with dark wooden furniture. I didn't feel entirely happy sitting with an intrusive lattice panel immediately next to our table, but the company was good, so I quickly moved on.
The menu is as you'd expect, creative and select. I had a glass of champagne, then the lunch menu - which I believe was £16 for two courses and £22 (?) for three - while my friend went a la carte.
I started with a classic terrine and to-die-for fresh bread with home-made chutney. Very tasty, and fairly hearty to boot. Then a chesnut mushroom risotto. I couldn't finish it, but it was very, very nice. Just the right side of rich and full of flavour.
Finally, floating island, which I'd never had before - but was the perfect end to a mid-afternoon meal. Our bill was £115 with a bottle of wine and the food above, and I'll definitely be going back.
Yeah, it was really great.
This place has a low-key but classy atmosphere and great food. It's all about fancy food with non-offensive prices. I'll be back soon.
We sat at the bar and enjoyed our conversation with the bartender and a visiting businessman.
We started with the squid and mackerel "burger" which is not a burger at all. It is a pile of delicious seafood and vegetables and herbs to match. It is even better than it sounds.
The bouillabaisse was good. It was probably correct, but it did not live up to the ridiculous example set by the starter.
But it was the saddle of rabbit that really made the evening. Multiple cuts of the rabbit combined perfectly with the veg, and the pancetta added just the right level of saltiness. I'd come back just for this dish.
You'll also enjoy that you can get a huge number of wines by the glass so you can mix and match to accompany your food.
Gluten-free notes: Most dishes were naturally gluten-free and they were happy to check about any dishes.
Really cute bistro atmosphere with good design. Friendly staff. Only complaint is that service could be a tad slow at times.
The parsnip soup was merely okay, but the terrine surprised me on the upside. The slow cooked veal was quite moist and tender, but a bit salty. Dining partner's fish was good. Chocolate mousse was creamy and delicious.
Nice way to start off my London trip :)
Decent but not worth the price tag.
My salad starter was unremarkable, the beef main (ordered medium-rare) was tough enough that I had to give up, and the dessert which I think was some kind of lemon polenta (though I can't quite recall -- which says enough!) was sweet but otherwise didn't have much to recommend it.
The wine list is fabulous. This redeeming factor might have been even better had the staff been more knowledgeable about the wines on it (perhaps the sommelier was away...?).
I had been really excited about this restaurant given the strong reviews it received here, but just wasn't that impressed with the food or service I received on the night!
How can you go wrong with a place that serves food of this quality at resonable prices and really charming competeant service.
Great atmosphere and an amazing Steak Tartare...
Michelin star? An affordable fair? Enter-me!
Decor is clean and calm, nothing too memorable, so you can actually focus on what you came here to do.
We were offered sourdough bread and butter, which i have to make a point and tell you that it was SOFT. I read in a prior review that the butter was rock solid, and i am DEF not a fan, so i slid the knife the split second the ramekin touched the table ... the knife went in... smooth as butter! (check!)
no apps, got the rabbit saddle, and my friend got the fish, both exquisite! The rabbit was a little too rich for my liking, however it was tasty and a fair portion. What i truly loved were the mashed potatoes on grilled veggies... mmm MMMM mmmm GOOD. i would get that as my last meal on earth (time to revise my 'bout me' section)
for dessert then I got the floating island, which was as it was before mentioned light as air. what is it? it's meringue (pretty much just overly beaten sweetened egg white) on heavycream+eggyolk+goodness topped with sugar almonds (see the pics), and my friend got the chocolate something something.. don't remember, but that was DE-LIGHT-FUL!
i would go back
(it is also on the same street as barrafina)
For our first full day of vacation in London, this was actually a back-up spot since our first choice (Woseley) had a one hour wait, and it never once felt like sloppy seconds. It was a great culinary experience. Every dish was delish and presented beautifully.
The price of 18 pounds for a prix fixe lunch was a total bargain. I had the kale soup, parpadelle and my partner had the pork belly (sliced into thin circles) and the rabbit. Everything was perfect, particularly my soup, which was a "risk" as I've only had kale chips (... don't judge).
One area for development was the restroom. The dyson dryer is certainly eco-friendly, but the urinals constantly ran a thin stream of water, which seemed wasteful. Additionally, the toilet had no trash can in it (nor did the sink area of the restroom), so even if you used the toilet paper to blow your nose, etc, you "had" to flush it. If they can get this squared away, they get my coveted fifth star.
The food however is delicious.
This user has arrived from Qype, a European company acquired by Yelp in 2012. We have integrated the two sites to bring you one great local experience.