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Arbutus - opening soon in Soho


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Matt, side plates have gone out of fashion? :laugh:

I bloody well hope not.

I can't stick this ridiculous business of breaking your bread up on the table top.

Simple? Rustic? Bloody unhygienic and messy.

If I'm eating the main course like a prince why should I eat the bread like a Carpathian village idiot?

If they can't fit them on the table - get a bigger table.

Restaurants are becoming like central London multi-storey carparks. They stick in so many extra spaces you can't reverse in and you can't open the sodding doors.

GIVE US BACK OUR BASTARD SIDE PLATES!!!!!!!

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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but I can see how it might not agree with some people.

Aaaaaah. The crunch of ear cartilage. Took me back to school. Mud churned and frozen into knives. An oval of wet leather. A scrum of teenage schoolboys and Forster, the Ganymede of the Lower Sixth, with his hand up my shorts.

Happy days

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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Bigger tables=less punters= higher prices. Do you want dinner for £25 a head in central london or a side plate? The choice is yours.

Or they can do away with tables altogether and serve it standing up in styrofoam.

I think it's just one of those things we accepted as fashionable at the beginning and it's now too costly and complicated for the restaurateurs to go back.

I reckon we should do away with soup bowls. A pool on the table and a straw should suffice.

They probably do it that way at El Bulli anyway

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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Mr Hayward was instantly identifiable by his solitude and large grin. His status as Important E-Gulleter was confirmed at the end of the meal by his order of a carafe of Sauternes. Style!

You're never truly alone with a carafe of Sauternes

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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I reckon we should do away with soup bowls. A pool on the table and a straw should suffice.

They should do away with the restaurant entirely and just have a phone line where you ring up and they explain the food to you while you eat a corned beef and Branston pickle sandwich - the foodie equivilent of phone sex. Far less hassle all round, you feel full up and you don't have to miss New Tricks on the telly.

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but I can see how it might not agree with some people.

Aaaaaah. The crunch of ear cartilage. Took me back to school. Mud churned and frozen into knives. An oval of wet leather. A scrum of teenage schoolboys and Forster, the Ganymede of the Lower Sixth, with his hand up my shorts.

Happy days

That is brilliant. :laugh:

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Exactly - I feel like I've eaten there 5 times already. All I need to know now is what colour the maitre'd's shoes are and I can cancel my reservation. (Taste the food? Oh no, I don't need to do that. Think of all those calories!)

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Gullet Verb - Modern Eng.

To stuff a restaurant to the rafters, for its opening week, with members of an online community.

Example "Can you get a table at Arbutus these days or is it still being gulleted?

cf "Mongolian Clusterfuck"

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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And I bet The Masch gets in there early doors as well - I wouldn't be totally amazed if its was in today's edition. It will definately be next week's main review.

Not that early, it was about 20:30 by my reckoning. :wink:

Edited by Matthew Grant (log)

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

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I'm trying not to write about it using too many gushing superlatives. Chicken sot-l'y-laisse followed by Salt beef 'pot-au-feu'. Also tried Squid and mackerel burger (surprisingly good), The rump of lamb and the Salad of Jersey Royals.

I've got another visit tomorrow and will try to write an objective report over the weekend. My honest initial impression is that this is probably the most accomplished cooking in London at this price point and based on current London Michelin star standards is a contender to become the cheapest Michelin starred restaurant in London. Rachel curses multiple visits to retaurants over anything less than a 5 year period but she rang me this morning trying to decide what she was going to order on Friday.

Apparently there were some other EG'ers there last night, anybody care to comment?

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

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Menu is great if your not a vegetarian

Not true. I brought along The World's Most Fussy Vegetarian last night (see posts passim), who was completely placated by the halloumi pithiver. Putney Bridge offered no such salves to the carnophobe, so this is definitely progress.

A few observations: the wine caraffe thing is genius, allowing you to take risks and order much further up the list than would be financially sensible by the bottle. Couldn't understand why all the other tables were still going for bottles.

Any opening wrinkles with service and timing appeared to have been ironed out. The front-of-house dealt admirably with all the odd requests we threw at them (including bringing one solitary lump of cheese, and correctly identifying a wine I ordered solely by saying "Portugal" and waving my hands around). Calmness was maintained even when La Maschler breezed in. They were also very tolerant with a pair of out-of-place lads who ordered single main courses, then walked out when told they would take up to 25 minutes to arrive.

I can live without side plates. But I'm less impressed by the wobbly monopod tables. One wrong move would have landed my pistou soup onto my crotch, which would have been a disaster for any number of reasons. Also note they have places set up at the bar, in the style of Caprice. These should provide a haven for the solitary diner, in a part of town where eating alone is more commonly viewed as an invitation to be chatted up by some bloke called Brenda.

Pretty much everyone, on sitting down and seeing the menu for the first time, said: "pig's head? Hur hur hur hur ...". Doubt they'll sell too many. The rabbit, meanwhile, was flying out of the kitchen, and deservedly so. It'd be a steal for the £14 list cost, making its current sub-£7 price tag almost offensive. I agree that a Michelin star would not look out of place, while a bib gourmand is all but guaranteed.

Otherwise: the English asparagus starter was as good as you'd expect, although the accompanying egg stuff was a little too reminiscent of sandwich filling. Mighty soup. And the pithiver ... will never be ordered by anyone who's reading this. Still, its existence means we can all bring along veggies without guilt, and that fact alone should be celebrated.

Edited by naebody (log)
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Pretty much everyone, on sitting down and seeing the menu for the first time, said: "pig's head? Hur hur hur hur ...". Doubt they'll sell too many

I have had the same reaction when harping on about the pig's head to friends who haven't been yet - "eeww, don't fancy that". I think people expect to get a faceful of face. Great dish though, and mine was nice and warm.

I agree about the wine - why would you bother ordering a full bottle?

Having thought about it, perhaps one glaring omission on the menu is shellfish? As a light way to start a meal, some scallops, prawns, langoustines could feature? I know it would bump up the price, but I think it would make for a better rounded menu.

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

Hope you wore some looser trousers last night Matt. :laugh:

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ah, Naebody, I was sat next to you, well the other side of the 2 guys who dashed off. I too was impressed by your impression of a Portugese bottle of wine.

Think I almost took out The Masch in my dash out of the restaurant in time to catch the 2nd half of the football.

The food was very good. Like everybody else, I ordered the rabbit. My other half ordered the lamb, had a taste of my rabbit, declared the pie component the best thing she has ever eaten. She then made puppy eyes at me for the rest of the meal so that she could steal as much as possible.

Only comment would be that the cabbage was very salty.

Nothing much to add on the rest of the meal that hasn't already been said. Had the mango, enjoyed it. They've dropped the chocolate from the rice now, or at least they had with mine.

The tables are very close together. I'm not the smallest, but not that big. Manouvering my way out of my seat to visit the toilet I nearly tipped over my table, and the one nextdoor. They aren't the most stable, and there isn;t a lot of room between them.

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I agree about the wine - why would you bother ordering a full bottle?

Having thought about it, perhaps one glaring omission on the menu is shellfish? As a light way to start a meal, some scallops, prawns, langoustines could feature? I know it would bump up the price, but I think it would make for a better rounded menu.

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

Hope you wore some looser trousers last night Matt. :laugh:

I ordered full bottles because 4 people sharing a bottle is easy to get through and my friends aren't particularly bothered by what they drink.

I agree re: the shellfish, Langoustines are too expensive ('ve already asked) but scallops/ prawns might be nice.

Last night I wore a Junk De Luxe jacket, Paul Smith jeans/shoes and a Full Circle jumper. I felt perfectly comfortable :biggrin:

Edited by Matthew Grant (log)

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

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The Masch, of course, was glamming it up on the Ile de Re in this weeks Standard - and generally when she's blagged a trip abroad, the following weeks reviews suffer by comparison.

btw - Michelin star?? are you sure?? the foods good, but that doesnt get you a star from Michelin, does it?!

PS shouldn't we start an e-Gullet pre launch restaurant review website for the masses, and bit the Masch and Coren et al to it every time? Maybe we can offer them a job,........

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btw  - Michelin star??  are you sure??  the foods good, but that doesnt get you a star from Michelin, does it?!

By London standards yes. I would put this on a level with Chez Bruce and the Ledbury, both of which have stars.

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

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btw  - Michelin star??  are you sure??  the foods good, but that doesnt get you a star from Michelin, does it?!

By London standards yes. I would put this on a level with Chez Bruce and the Ledbury, both of which have stars.

it more on a par with lola's (when lola's was good)

good - but not star material

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If there's any substance behind Michelin's recent bluster that it's not hung up on petit fours and penguin waiters, then I'd imagine Arbutus has a decent chance at collecting a tyre gong. It remains to be seen whether quality (and prices) will be maintained once the last critic leaves the building. But my initial impression is of a kitchen running a notch or two above places like 1 Lombard Street, L'Escargot and Rhodes Twenty Four, all of which are starred.

I too was impressed by your  impression of a Portugese bottle of wine.

Thanks. Prats & Symington Douro is not an easy concept to express via charades. But I think I got the "Prat" bit over quite successfully.

Edited by naebody (log)
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I'm surprised no one has enthused that much about the wine, rather than just about the availibility of the the large glass caraffe.

We sampled 5 wines last night (6 if you include the champagne) and all were excellent , 2 of them seriously idiosyncratic and absolutely splendid. (Both the caraffe whites and the pudding wine were properly chilled too). Nothing on the list is run of the mill and in the abscence of a sommelier (or even a properly clued up waiter) some notes on the wine list would have been welcome.

The bottle of Picpoul we had with our starters was extremely good and worked well with both my brandade and my chicken oyster thingy as well as with the eel. It was pretty acceptable with the asparagus too.

The Gamay d'Auvergne I had with the rabbit was completely odd and absolutely delicious, fluorescent pink and tasting of cloves, bubblegum and Boots three week wine kits. I'd happily drink this wine for breakfast everyday of the week.

The lamb eater opted for a caraffe of Pic St Loup , which was very correct , with the baby plaice going for a caraffe of the Picpoul that we'd had with the starters.

We then split a caraffe of very acceptable Marsannay with the cheese before moving on to a caraffe of Mousht with the puddings. This was the star turn - bright orange , tasting, we decided, of church candles, sandalwood, Izal medicated toilet paper and oranges. Be warned however, it just doesn't stand up to sugar, particularly burnt sugar. What had been a complex and delicious wine in the gap between cheese and pudding turned to vinegar in the mouth once i'd tucked into the floating island and it did the same for the creme caramel eater. I'm not sure which of the desterts this would work with, its probably best as a substitute for pudding rather than an accompaniment to one.

The food was pretty good throught (actually it was more than pretty good).

I thought the rabbit loin was better than the cottage pie bit, and the kidney in the middle, the best bit of all. (I think my rabbit may have had a serious Pernod habit in its brief life, its kidney certainly had a strong aniseed taste).

The eel was the best eel any of us had ever tasted - anyone know who their eel merchant is ? Or in fact who their chicken armpit merchant is - who would have thought that a chicken's armpit concealed such a delicious little nugget of meat! I thought the macaroni in that dish was perfect , in fact it was all perfect , the only criticism I could make being that they should provide a spoon to deal with all the lovely juice , though they brought me on fast enough when i asked.

The lamb was splendidly flavoursome and tender - though the lamb eater could have done with more starch than the solitary tortelloni (tortellono ?) (Though to be fair to the front of house staff they heard his moaning from the far side of the room and ran over with bread).

Lamb eater was also seriously discomforted by the fruit bread with the cheese and he then ran accross the room waving both arms in the air to get some plain bread. I started off wishing for a plain biscuit with the cheese but by the fourth piece of fruit bread I'd warmed to it. It did mean however that I was so full that I had to abandon my plan to have two puddings.

Service was charming if a bit erratic. Our second round of starters arrived within seconds of the first round having been cleared away and the mains arrived before we'd got round to ordering anything to drink with them (though that may well have been our fault for talking too much). There was a long delay before the cheese and a longer one before puddings . (I think they were struggling a bit at that point, various kitchen staff seemed to be helping out the waiters)

I agree with everyone who has demanded sideplates! They don't have to be big. I think I'll take my own next time I go if this hasn't been resolved.

Apart from that, some tasting notes on the wine list and some eau de vie , they have got it all really rather right.

I'll definately be there for lunch and more of that Gamay sometime next week.

gethin

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