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Arbutus - opening soon in Soho


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Wow! May! thats not long to go, i agree though that london needs more restaurants like arbutus, it sounds like they have a very exciting future - Matthews a bit slow of the mark isn't he.... :wink:

See hint here

I was sworn to secrecy :rolleyes: However, I can tell you that it isn't likely to be open until June. Still waiting to hear what the name is, they've discarded the first idea.

Does anyone else think London could support several restaurants like Arbutus? I think it could survive very well in some suburbs as well as central London. If only he wuold come to Croydon :sad:

No. 17 times no.

Any particular reason why? :wacko:

this is a nice restaurant, but it is NOT a new concept, and it is not revolutionary, and it is doing very little new. there is nothing about it that suggests that it should be rolled out.

that doesn't mean there is anything wrong with the main, but there isn't anything SO right that it needs to go far and wide. because there isn't anything unique here, soon you start stretching your working capital, overpay for slightly dodgy sites, spend more time managing the central control functions than running your main restaurant, new sites start eating capital as they things go a bit slow in the beginning - and next thing you know, you've got a one way ticket to Novelli-ville.

the skills needed to run a small chain, are very different to running a successful single site - especially when that main site relies on execution rather than concept.

I just don't see anything nearly remarkable enough to head down that path. If they can make the drones site work, good luck to 'em, but maybe that challenge should be knocked off first. imho anyway.

A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, Mr PSB & I had a lovely lunch at my Favourite Restaurant yesterday. I had the mackeral burger which was gorgeous, then a dish involving slow-cooked lamb, sweet breads and sultanas - with some very well-cooked spinach - in a good way. My pudding was, as ever, possibly the best part of the meal - hot & cold blood oranges, which was actually blood orange sabayon on a sablé biscuit, surrounded by crescents of blood orange - perfect - light & refreshing after my quite rich starter & mains. Mr PSB had the smoked eel, then the rabbit saddle/shepherds pie, plus lemon tart. All were excellent.

Our only beef was Mr PSB's coffee - an espresso, which was, unaccountably, served in a small glass. It was full to the brim, and the poor waiter scalded his fingers as he served it. It was so difficult to drink out of that he didn't enjoy the coffee. Arbutus usually serves things in sensible ways - quite why they have decided to use these daft glasses and then fill them to the brim, I have no idea - handles are a very sensible invention.

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Was there last week for dinner.

Food wise, probably the best I have had there.

Potato ravioli with burnt butter, purple broccoli, lemon & pecorino. well balanced. excellent dish, though perhaps a bit rich toward the end.

average quality bavette, tough & chewy, with superb braised salsify and a dauphinoise to die for - and judging by the cream, may have been the choices one faced.

the lemon tart, was perhaps the best flavour of lemon i can recall eating. a perfectly set custard, creamy and cooling against a pungent and aromatically complex lemon flavour. the brulee on top was underdone.

with the exception of a rubbish bavette, very accomplished bistro style food, perhaps slightly too formal in it's platings. but very enjoyable nonetheless.

wine prices seem to be getting more stupid, it's always been a myth that the prices were ok here - they're not. but the carafe thing does allow them to be slightly more accessible, not better value. 2 dreadful apertifs sent back because the prosecco was flat as a tack, acceptable replacements.

£15 + service for a 250mls of a £13 wine is a little greedy...

front of house remains, an utter shambles. but that is nothing new.

Edited by Scott (log)

A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

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  • 3 weeks later...

The "new" Arbutus is pencilled in to open the last week of May (though I'm sure we are all aware of how these things change.

They are still looking for a name, my own suggestion of "Arbutwo" didn't go down well :laugh:

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 4 weeks later...

Wild Honey is planned to open on the evening of 2nd July. There will be 50% off food and reservations are being taken now if you ring Arbutus.

I had a couple of complimentary dishes today, one of which I'm not allowed to mention as it will be on the new menu. I can tell you it was along very similar lines to Arbutus.

I also got to try the Lemon tart. Quite simply superb, crisp thin pastry, wobbly centre with a caramelised top, served with chantilly cream. The best lemon tart I have had since Nico. Backed up by a lady who'd just had lunch who hunted Anthony out to compliment him on the dish :smile:

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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Wild Honey is planned to open on the evening of 2nd July. There will be 50% off food and reservations are being taken now if you ring Arbutus.

I had a couple of complimentary dishes today, one of which I'm not allowed to mention as it will be on the new menu. I can tell you it was along very similar lines to Arbutus.

I also got to try the Lemon tart. Quite simply superb, crisp thin pastry, wobbly centre with a caramelised top, served with chantilly cream. The best lemon tart I have had since Nico. Backed up by a lady who'd just had lunch who hunted Anthony out to compliment him on the dish :smile:

Thanks!

"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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Arbutus

There is a danger to reviewing on the cheap, even for bloggers a notorious tight group of souls. This came to mind in considering Arbutus, a spare and clean-lined establishment just south of Soho Square. Planning to eat at Gordon Ramsay, St. Johns, and The Fat Duck does not come cheap, and I was delighted to learn that Arbutus, a well-regarded new restaurant in Soho, emphasizing Haute-Comfort food, was open on Sunday evening, and offered a three course pre-theater menu for 17.50 pounds. As Arbutus had been named the New Restaurant of the Year by Time Out London, the offer was too tempting to pass up, and, if the choices were not what I would have selected without constraint, they matched my tastes quite well.

And, truth be told, these three courses were sufficiently well-prepared that I wondered what I might have been treated to had I placed myself in the hands of Chef Anthony Demetre. Pre-theater menus have two traits that serve them well for diners, but less well for critics. They are designed to be prepared efficiently and are chosen because their food appeals to a wide swath of dinners. So, I was not presented with offal or with those dishes that are awash in the chef’s sweat.

Still, considering the rate of exchange, a dinner for $35.00 (with VAT included; service of 12.5% is added) is a deal. I began with a lovely soup of crushed tomatoes, which was as its name suggests a robust and textured red. The soup was fine served hot, but would have been more luscious if chilled later and served in the late summer tomato heat. This chef is willing to experiment with herbs, and I particularly admired the thin slices of fennel that enhanced the depth of the tomato.

The main course was a simple Rabbit Loin with Mustard Sauce, Herb Risotto, and Baby Carrots. If the artistry didn’t astonish this diner, the mustard sauce was beautifully puckery, and the emerald risotto was powerfully flavored with what must have included half of a herbarium. The dish was not flashy, but well-proportioned and rapidly prepared.

Of the three courses, dessert was the least striking: Rice Pudding Mousse with Strawberry Juice on a bed of fresh Strawberries - appropriate botanically, as Arbutus is refers to the botanical name for the strawberry tree (a tree that once grew in Soho Square). As advertised, here was rice pudding and strawberries. While the pudding was certainly creamy, it seemed more of a pudding than a mousse.

As judged from the menu, Arbutus offers more complexity than my pleasant meal provided. Whether Arbutus achieves these goals is a question that I leave for those with deeper pockets.

Arbutus

63-64 Frith Street

London (Soho)

020-7734-4545

www.arbutusrestaurant.co.uk

Photos available at:

Vealcheeks

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After having booked my table at Wild Honey (thanks Matthew!) I decided to revisit Arbutus so it would fresh in my mind and that i would be able to compare the two more accurately. I started with The Devon Crab salad which was simply outstanding - served with a cucumber, shaved fennel and micro leaf saad, lighter than light homemade garlic mayo and a bread croute with the brown crab meat. It was absolutely delicious and far superior to any crab dish i have eaten in London recently. My guest had the pea and pancetta soup with Ricotta which was similarly good. We both had sea bream with broad beans, samphire and new potatoes as a main course which was another resounding success, simple, claerly defined flavours all perfectly cooked. We finished with Matthews recommendation of the lemon tart which was a great choice. The lemon centre was so light and deliciously sharp and the wafer thin crisp pastry base was cooked perfectly. We drank a couple of Crafaes of The ABC Chardonnay (£12 for 250mls) and finished with coffees - £95.00 for two for an outstanding lunch. I found the service much improved from my previous visit, far "slicker" and attentive whilst discretely keeping their distance and not overwhelming you as can often be the case. I am very much looking forward to seeing how Wild honey compares....

"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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  • 1 month later...

I returned to the Mother Ship yesterday evening for an early dinner. I had planned on the pre-theatre menu but couldn't resist the oxtail ravioli which came with a delicate sauce with a hint of ginger. A ricotta salad with charlotte potatoes radishes and Golden beets worked really well, the ricotta itself exhibiting a welcome strong flavour which surprised me a little.

My efforts to go to the restaurant undetected were obviously scuppered when we received a comped dish of sea Bream with Piperade. Nice crispy skin and the piperade combining well with some chopped olive.

Pork belly with Gnocchi and girolles was an easy choice, Anthony makes some of the best Gnochhi around, the pork firm but tender, crackling on the side. Very simple but very good. The star of the show was top side of Welsh Black beef, which had been well hung and had a fantastic aroma even from the other side of the table. I'm guessing it had been cooked sous-vide and than browned which worked perfctly for this cut.

Finished with the cheesecake and blueberries. Beautiful as ever.

I must admit that I didn't expect too much early on a Sunday evening (I would normally avoid that slot at all costs) but I ended up with a top notch meal, regular sunday evening diners should be impressed!

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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I returned to the Mother Ship yesterday evening for an early dinner. I had planned on the pre-theatre menu but couldn't resist the oxtail ravioli which came with a delicate sauce with a hint of ginger. A ricotta salad with charlotte potatoes radishes and Golden beets worked really well, the ricotta itself exhibiting a welcome strong flavour which surprised me a little.

My efforts to go to the restaurant undetected were obviously scuppered when we received a comped dish of sea Bream with Piperade. Nice crispy skin and the piperade combining well with some chopped olive.

Pork belly with Gnocchi and girolles was an easy choice, Anthony makes some of the best Gnochhi around, the pork firm but tender, crackling on the side. Very simple but very good. The star of the show was top side of Welsh Black beef, which had been well hung and had a fantastic aroma even from the other side of the table. I'm guessing it had been cooked sous-vide and than browned which worked perfctly for this cut.

Finished with the cheesecake and blueberries. Beautiful as ever.

I must admit that I didn't expect too much early on a Sunday evening (I would normally avoid that slot at all costs) but I ended up with a top notch meal, regular sunday evening diners should be impressed!

Was in for a later dinner last night, unfortunately the beef special had gone. Between the four of us we had :-

Squid and mackeral burger

Crab salad

Pig' head terrine

Raviolo

Salmon

Bouillabaisse

Rabbit

Cheese

Floating islands

Trifle

Choc Soup

All was good, for me the highlight was the runner beans with the rabbit, delicious with the mustard sauce. Really enjoyed the casual service and too much wine!

The quest for perfection will lead you to role models that will last you for life (Nico Ladenis)

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I wonder if any expert egulleteers can help me.

Let me explain - I went to Arbutus and had a lovely meal. One component of a dish really stuck in my mind. It accompanied a main and was some sliced razor clams in a lovely savoury green sauce. I seem to recall salt, herb, and shallots, possibly some stock. The clams were lightly cooked, sliced and lay in their shell with a little pool of the sauce.

Anyway it had been playing on my mind for weeks and I had to know how to make it. So I wrote a polite (I hope) letter asking if they could possibly let me know how to make it or just what was in it. In best Blue Peter style I enclosed a SAE (remember them?). Unfortunately they never got back to me. :sad:

Anyone here had it and can take a stab at the recipe?

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Sorry Joe I haven't had that dish.

I went for lunch in Soho yesterday - lots of eGulleteers there that day! I agree about the beans with the rabbit - perfectly cooked, looking like a green bonfire all heaped up. The vegetables that accompany the mains are real stars in their own right. The oxtail ravioli are jolly yummy too - the ginger was so subtle - just there when you put it into your mouth. I wish I'd left room for the strawberry trifle - I may have to return just for that!

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The oxtail ravioli are jolly yummy too - the ginger was so subtle - just there when you put it into your mouth.

Had the oxtail ravioli at lunch on Friday, and couldn't disagree more. The dough was more undercooked than al dente and had a faint but unpleasant flouriness, and while the oxtail itself was good neither the ginger nor the spring onion were detectable. I was expecting a really interesting Italian/Chinese fusion, and this wasn't it.

Three of us went for the first time for lunch on Friday. We hadn't booked and they could only seat us at the bar. Our host had the £15.50 three-course set lunch and his other guest and I had two starters each.

Looked at the menu with great anticipation, but the meal was a real Curate's egg experience.

On the positive side, my squid & mackeral burger is as wondeful as previous posts suggest, but a rather mean portion.

My fellow guest thought her salad was "nice but unmemorable" and her braised pig's head "really interesting but far too strong" - it was a small portion but she couldn't fiinsh it.

Our host loved his meal - porchetta, followed by rabbit, followed by strawberries - and thought it was supurb value.

Service was pleasant (apart from a slightly grim barman) but haphazard, and my oxtail arrived before my squid burger, which the waiter said was "a kitchen mistake".

With an acceptable bottle of white from Cotes de Blaye and some really bad coffee, the bill was about £99.

I'd give it another go because the squid burger was so good, but on Friday's showing, "the Emperor has no clothes". Perhaps they are putting their energies into Wild Honey at present, but this really wasn't good enough.

Frith Street restaurant, on this site from 1998 to 2000, was much better, but lost money, perhaps because the street was awash with heroin in those days.

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Hi everybody,

I have been at Arbutus with my partner a couple of weeks ago. I agree with rjs1 on coffee, must disagree on the ravioli (at least when I visited - and I promise you I am very fussy).

Although I did enjoy the food (well, ok, my partner and I have an issue with unstoned cherries in the clafoutis, but this is a long story...), I found it on the whole a bit on the stingy side: hardly any bread, nothing to nibble on, nothing to go with the coffee... I think establishments that obvioulsy aspire to a Michelin star could put slightly more effort (especially given the competition), and still keep costs under control. Anyhow, in case you are interested here there is a full list of what we had and what we made of it...

ah, and excellent idea having wine by carafes of various sizes, hope this catches up!

Edited by salutistagolosa (log)
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  • 3 months later...

I had a great dinner here last Friday, I was treated by the kitchen to a large selction of dishes the standouts for me being the roasted root vegetables and fennel, a wonderful ox cheek ravioli which seemed a little michelin orientated compared to most arbutus dishes but certainly didn't suffer because of this. Sea bass came with razor clams beans and chorizo, excellent crispy skin and decent flavoured fish. Cailettes of pork (a traditional meatball) were large, and I probably didn't need to be served two of them following the previous mass of food, the accompanying pomme puree could be one of the best in London. I probably shouldn't have accepted cheese especially as we were served a lovely tarte tatin which we really failed to make a dent in.

Arbutus still hitting all the right spots and service was excellent throughout, Anthony and Will seem to have got a really good team together now, even on days when they might be at Wild Honey the kitchen and service is spot on.

Edited by Matthew Grant (log)

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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  • 1 month later...

I just wanted to say how glad I am that I came across this threat before my 2-day stopover in London. My boyfriend and I managed to get a last-minute lunch reservation at Arbutus and had an absolutely wonderful lunch.

Between the two of us we managed to have each of the items on the fixed lunch -- smoked eel risotto, caillette de porc, beet and frisee salad with hazelnuts, and lambs tripe -- and everyone was great. The two meat dishes were so robustly flavoured but with a complexity to them. The smoked eel risotto had the perfect balance of richness, smokiness, and acidity. The carafe of Hegarty (or a name close to that) that the server recommended was a perfect accompaniment.

This is certainly a meal that will remain a very pleasant memory of London -- thanks again!

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