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Arbutus - opening soon in Soho


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I only booked 2 on discount nights actually, the rest I will happily be paying full price.

I shall be sitting anonymously :cool: at my table trying to work out who's who :raz:

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

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EVERYONE PLEASE BE EXTRA AWARE OF eG EVENTS POLICY

If it looks like we're making dates here I'll have to cut off a very interesting thread.

T

Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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Due to my obvious bias I shall refrain from detailed comment until I have had a full price meal :raz:

A good first night though and without going into too much detail I thought that this was somewhere between bistro and the food AD used to serve at Putney Bridge, probably comparable to somewhere like Chez Bruce but several pounds cheaper.

I think there were a couple of other EG'ers there last night, I'll let them comment further.

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

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Since I have no such bias I will happily pass comment on last night’s meal. Overall, I would broadly agree with Matt’s Chez Bruce comparison.

We really liked the room. It’s light and airy, and once you’re sat down it really doesn’t feel like you’re in Soho. As you walk in there is a bar to your right, with place settings for eating there. The main body of the restaurant is around the other side of said bar, meaning that you come back on yourself into the larger space. We had a table for four just at the top end of the bar, looking down into the front space.

Once we’d settled in they offered us hunks of decent bread from a board.

Given the discount we went a little bit nuts. We each ordered 2 starters and a main. My own meal went as follows:

Crisp Braised Pig’s Head, potato puree, caramelized onion and garlic: Probably my favourite dish of the night. The thick slab of meat was meltingly soft, piggy, and gelatinous (in a good way). Had a nice touch of spice, too. Potato puree was good if a little stiff. I very much doubt that there is a more satisfying way to spend £5. Fantastic.

Slow Cooked Shoulder of Lamb ‘boulangère’, lamb sweetbreads, spiced dates, radish leaves: very nice. Alternating thin layers of potato and soft lamb topped with and encircled by the sweetbreads. My only criticism was that the boulangère was a hair too ‘potatoey’ for my tastes. It could have done with a touch more seasoning between the layers but texturally it was good. Sweetbreads were tasty little mouthfuls.

Probably a bad choice in the scheme of my meal but I couldn’t resist a main course of Pied et Pacquets (tripe parcels and trotters), soufflé potatoes: 2 quenelles of minced trotter alongside the 2 tripe parcels, with the potatoes arriving in a small dish alongside. The latter were akin to inflated crisps – round, crisp saucers of potato straight out of the hot oil. The crispness was welcome since the rest of the dish is rich, and moist. The trotter was redolent of the earlier braised head in its soft texture and meaty sweetness, hence my concerns about ordering these dishes in succession. Tripe parcels were relatively small in size (thank god) but big on taste: stocky and spicy, a sort of porcine oxtail.

Needless to say all plates were wiped clean by the consistent bread.

I also tried the following over the course of the evening. I won’t go into too much detail since I’m sure Andy Fenn will have his own comments.

Chicken oysters, macaroni, broad beans, lemon thyme and hazelnuts: I got a mouthful of this and I have to say it was pretty good. I thought perhaps there was too much nuttiness, but great texture on the oysters and the lemon thyme provided a welcome citrus note in the context of my own meal.

Squid and mackerel burger, BBQ sauce, vine cherry tomatoes: By far the weakest dish we had and a little out of place on this menu. There was plenty of fish in a rather pale patty, which had been laced with some oriental spice (I think a little ginger/coriander/spring onion), but otherwise it was a little bland. Needless to say it suffered by following upon the richer pork and lamb dishes.

Roast Rabbit, shoulder cottage pie, hispi cabbage, mustard sauce: again, very tasty. Cottage pie arrived in a little dish on the side, and was fantastic – probably the best element. I’ll let Andy give you his own thoughts on this.

Elwy Valley rump of lamb, tortellini of goats cheese, artichokes, tomato: very generous portion of bright pink meat skirted by a line of fat. This was actually one of the lighter dishes we had and benefited from the tart sweetness of the tomato.

We also ordered a couple of the mango desserts, which were good, but when Alphonso mangoes are around it’s hard not to put together something pretty tasty.

Overall, very impressed. For opening night, everything ran smoothly – even more impressive given our table’s slightly awkward ordering. The great selection of wines by the carafe gives you a chance to get a decent taste of a number of wines over the course of a meal, and will win them many friends. Staff were very pleasant and accomodating. We had a relaxed, tasty meal, which even at full price would have been highly reasonable (the 3 dishes I had, at full whack, would weight in around £26). I’ll definitely be back.

Edited by Rian (log)
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I'll just chip in and say that the Rabbit cottage pie is superb, IMO it could be served on its own in a bigger pot without the saddle. Interesting to hear your opinion on the Squid and Mackeral burger, I haven't tasted it but it sounds out of place IMO although Anthony was telling me that it was a popular dish last night. You must have been the table of four, one of you wearing a red t-shirt? :wink:

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

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The rabbit cottage pie went down very well indeed. The burger is a little out of place but is one of the lighter items and I can see why it might be popular on a slightly warmer evening.

You must have been the table of four, one of you wearing a red t-shirt?

Andy was in the red striped jumper and I was sat next to him, on the banquette. I think you spotted us :wink:

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I was indeed sporting a red T-shirt last night. Well, I was once the stripy jumper came off, which was more than necessary after my 2.5 starters, main and dessert. I had mentioned eGullet to the manager so maybe he said something? Was that William Smith?

I really liked this place. I started with the chicken, which was light and creamy. I actually liked the nuts, and the lemon thyme was a welcome citrus note. The chicken tasted of chicken, which was pleasing.

Next I had the pig's head. I agree with Rian, in that this was the best starter I tasted. Three of my favourite things all on one plate; pig, mash and confit onion. I thought the mash was superb, and the flavour of the pig forced any worries about sky high levels of saturated fats out of my head.

I shared the mackerel and squid 'burger' with another guest. I'm not surprised it was popular, as it is an intriguing menu description, and one of the lighter sounding menu items. However, we were all surprised that it actually was a burger! I guess the inverted commas led us to believe it would be squid 'sandwiched' by mackerel, or something similar. The flavours were pleasant, though I was a little unsure of the BBQ sauce. Didn't help having this on the back of two richer starters, but it wasn't as good IMO.

I had the rabbit main. Two thick slices of rolled saddle, stuffed with kidney and wrapped in ham(?). This was nicely flavoured, but was perhaps a tad dry and could have done with a little more of the mustard sauce. Saying that, my final bite was the tastiest of the lot, despite being stuffed at this point. The accompanying lettuce was a bit bland. But the pie. Oh the pie. The others had to endure me harping on about the pie. It was fantastic, served separately in a little earthenware dish. It was creamy and slightly sweet, completely different to its lamb/equivalent. I agree with Matt that this could be enlarged and served on its own. Fantastic.

Alphonso mango sorbet with rice pudding finished up. I love Alphonso mangoes, so this couludn't fail to deliver. I'm not sure the little pieces of chocolate in the rice complemented the mango though.

On another note, anyone living near Shepherd's Bush should head down and pick up a box of 12 Alphonso Mangoes from the greengrocer just down from Sainsbury's. 8 quid for a box of 12. Compare that to 3 pounds a mango in Selfridges and you'll see that you're on to a winner! My days have been happier as a result of this little find.

Back to the restaurant... I had a great time. I thought the food was great. I would happily pay full price for what I had. I can only lament that I will never again have a piece of pork like that for £2.50... £2.50!

Service was great, despite them telling me at the end that it was disorganised. They dealt with our gluttonous requests with aplomb. And I really like the fact that EVERY WINE on the list can be taken in 250ml caraffes... Including the £90 bottles at the top range. Really good opportunities to taste a great range of wines.

I suppose Galvin is its main competitor for this kind of experience, and to my mind, Arbutus won the first round last night. One criticism though - maybe a few more fish dishes on the menu for when I haven't starved myself all day and I'm after something lighter?

Most importantly though, did you like my T-shirt Matt?

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The t-shirt looked lovely, did my arse look big in my jeans? :laugh:

William was in the glasses, he had served your table so I guess it was him.

I'm already having a dilemma over what to order tomorrow, I though I had settled on the chicken oysters but the Pigs head sounds good as well.

Incidentally the chicken was black leg Landes Chicken. If you do a search I think you'll find me harping on about the rabbit cottage pie at Putney Bridge as well, just the right amount of tarragon and carrot which provided the sweetness. The potato topping is a thing of beauty.

I just noticed Circeplum reading the thread, when are you booked in? I'll give them a heads up :wink::biggrin:

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

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have they got a vacu-vin thingy for the wines?

offering everything in 250ml is good for the punter.

having just noticed the size of the carafe though, 250ml, that's what we call a large glass!

have you got a copy of the list matt?

you don't win friends with salad

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They have got a vacu-vin thingy for the wines, 250ml is a 1/3 of a bottle, most of the carafes are around 1/3 of the price of a bottle.

I have got a copy of the list, I'm trying to resize it so that I can post it and it can still be read.

Edited by Matthew Grant (log)

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

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We have swapped our reservation to tonight at step-mother-in-law's request, and it sounds like it's still an impossible choice between the rabbit and the lamb  :wacko:

Sarah

edited for spelling

I would say go for the rabbit...and get someone else to order the lamb :wink:

But seriously, the rabbit is the nicer dish.

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We have swapped our reservation to tonight at step-mother-in-law's request, and it sounds like it's still an impossible choice between the rabbit and the lamb  :wacko:

Tonight, I shall be giving them the litmus test of bringing along an impossibly fussy vegetarian with a zero tolerance policy on pretty much everything. This is an unfair stunt to pull on only their second night, I accept. But if they set up in Meeja Land, they're going to have to play by Meeja Rules.

My table shouldn't be hard to spot. It'll be the one featuring heated arguments about smoker proximity, menu scope, wine mark-up, chair positioning, picture selection, cutlery cleanliness, and my own pigheadedness for ordering the pig's head.

Edited by naebody (log)
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We have swapped our reservation to tonight at step-mother-in-law's request, and it sounds like it's still an impossible choice between the rabbit and the lamb  :wacko:

Sarah

edited for spelling

I would say go for the rabbit...and get someone else to order the lamb :wink:

But seriously, the rabbit is the nicer dish.

I would go for the lamb - it was absolutely delicious!

Though the rabbit was good too. :cool:

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My table shouldn't be hard to spot.

Beware a large bald geezer eating alone :wink:

Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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Can I put my hand up in support of the much abused 'squid and mackerel' burger?? OK, it feels a litle out of place amongst the general Frenchy pigginess - but its really really good! and the bbq sauce takes no hostages either. Be brave!

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Can I put my hand up in support of the much abused 'squid and mackerel' burger??  OK, it feels a litle out of place amongst the general Frenchy pigginess - but its really really good!  and the bbq sauce takes no hostages either.  Be brave!

As I say, it no doubt suffered in our meal by following upon a few very rich, heavily flavoured dishes. Still, I thought it lacked any real punch.

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