Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Arbutus - opening soon in Soho


Recommended Posts

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

Wow......I'm obviously going to have to go back a couple more times (and pay full price for the real comparator).....don't get me wrong, I love it - but its no Chez Bruce or Rhodes 24 to my mind. Lola's in the good old days - yep, I'd go with that.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm surprised no one has enthused that much about the wine, rather than just about  the availibility of the the large glass caraffe.

I would've mentioned it. But, while chefs get plaudits for good food, the customers will usually give themselves sole credit for choosing good wine. For the record, my own wisdom and refinement was demonstrated by ordering both the Shadowfax pinot noir and the Symington douro.

Link to post
Share on other sites

It was good, but not michelin starred. It's not that kind of cooking. And I'm not sure it shows the finesse or delicacy required to reach that level. Nor should it. I really liked the food as it was.

Matt, are they aiming for a star? It just doesn't seem that kind of place. And I mean that purely from a food standpoint, regardless of sommeliers, side plates, penguins etc

And I don't agree that the food is as good as the Ledbury - I have had two superb meals there this year that were as good as meals at the capital and even RHR. If not better. I haven't been to the other brasserie esque places with stars, like l'escargot, bruce etc, so perhaps they would be better comparisons, but Brett Graham is doing sone seriously good stuff down at the Ledbury right now.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I would've mentioned it. But, while chefs get plaudits for good food, the customers will usually give themselves sole credit for choosing good wine.

Well whoever put together the Arbutus wine list together deserves a lot of credit for putting together a list that , on last nights form, makes it hard to choose bad (or even uninteresting) wine.

Must try the house wines next time , if they are as carefully chosen as the rest of the list, they should be worth drinking and very reasonably priced .

gethin

Link to post
Share on other sites

They are absolutely not aiming for a star, what I was saying was that based on some other London restaurants with stars the cooking is equally as good. My last visit to the Ledbury wasn't very good :sad: Rhodes 24 certainly doesn't show a huge amount of finesse, nor does the River Cafe.

It was good, but not michelin starred. It's not that kind of cooking. And I'm not sure it shows the finesse or delicacy required to reach that level. Nor should it. I really liked the food as it was.

Matt, are they aiming for a star? It just doesn't seem that kind of place. And I mean that purely from a food standpoint, regardless of sommeliers, side plates, penguins etc

And I don't agree that the food is as good as the Ledbury - I have had two superb meals there this year that were as good as meals at the capital and even RHR. If not better. I haven't been to the other brasserie esque places with stars, like l'escargot, bruce etc, so perhaps they would be better comparisons, but Brett Graham is doing sone seriously good stuff down at the Ledbury right now.

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

Link to post
Share on other sites

Dined there on Tuesday evening - you have to give a restaurant a grace period in the first week and that was reflected in the 50% off food prices. The restaurant was full, the service was a bit rushed but, hey, its their second day! The food was superb, and did not reflect the fact that it was the second day of opening. Superb to see every wine offered by both bottle and glass. Great restaurant which deserves success.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry, I can't agree on all this gushing support. My meal wasn't as roundly successful as everyone else's appears to be.

Had lunch here earlier this week. The two rooms that make up the restaurant are light and airy and very Soho meeja.

As for the food it was good. I had my arm twisted into two starters each plus main course, plus dessert. I can't remember what the other two ordered so will let them post for themselves, if they so choose. I however, went old school in my choices.

I found both my starters disappointing

For starter #1 I ordered what is described on the menu as 'Asparagus, soft boiled egg, vinaigrette, Parmesan.' What I got was asparagus on top of a gooey sauce that looked like hollandaise but wasn't, with flakes of Parmesan. When I asked the waiter what the sauce was he couldn't really explain. This was my least enjoyable dish. The asparagus were slightly overcooked and the sauce lacked any taste. I couldn't even taste the Parmesan.

Starter #2 was a salad of Jersey Royals, watercress and goats curd. It was good but generally bland. The watercress didn't have any kick to it. It need some sort of vinaigrette to lift it.

Main course was far more promising. I had the Dover Sole, field mushrooms, crushed potatoes spring greens. The sole was served as two fillets, sitting one on top of the other, with a thick layer of pureed mushrooms between them. There was some mushroom reduction/veloute liberally 'dribbled' around the plate. The puree was delicious - very earthy and the fish itself was fantastic. It's the best sole I can remember having for some time. It was a modern enough take to make a change from meunieres, but not so radical as to lose the pleasure of this great fish.

Dessert of a creme brulee was also a bit disappointing. It didn't pass the crispy topping test for me and gave in to my spoon far too easily. Mr Dennis' vanilla cheese cake was fantastic though.

I had a carafe of '04 Domaine de L'Hortus that was cold, crisp and just fruity enough for a light lunchtime wine.

As you can tell, when they did well, they did really well, but when they didn't it was a bit bland. Charles Campion was in there eating lunch. At the end of his meal the chef went and sat down and had a chat with Charles. The first thing he said was "Sorry, it didn't quite come together today." I found this pretty interesting as that's what I felt. It had really really great potential but for me didn't quite hit the spot.

Edited by silverbrow (log)
Link to post
Share on other sites
I would've mentioned it. But, while chefs get plaudits for good food, the customers will usually give themselves sole credit for choosing good wine.

Well whoever put together the Arbutus wine list together deserves a lot of credit for putting together a list that , on last nights form, makes it hard to choose bad (or even uninteresting) wine.

gethin

We must be geniuses or idiots, because we disliked the Albarin~o (Sen~orio de Cruces 2004).

We were a group of 5, and I'd say the misses were far more frequent than the hits. The smoked eel was one of the highlights. Best were the pig's face and pieds et paquets. Misses included the worst beef rib "roast" I have ever had (done sous vide, supposedly finished on the plancha, but not enough), which made eating bloody sponge seem more attractive. The meat was absolutely tasteless. The fact that 2 people were forced to try this dish made it worse, and I hope nobody thinks this is a great gourmet value. The lamb looked almost identical to the beef, but had some flavor. Most of the problems were fundamental conceptual ones, plus uneven execution.

I think the overcooked asparagus dish was a fanciful take on asperges a la flamande, which is white asparagus in an egg sauce. The green asparagus was overcooked and vile. The souffled potatoes were inedibly salty, even for my salt-crazed husband.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I had a very enjoyable, and very cheap, lunch at Are-bew-tus (anyone else been saying Are-but-us? Just me then) on Thursday. I'm looking forward to going back for dinner at full price when there are a few more people in and I can get a real sense of the place.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've now had 3 meals at Arbutus, two of which were excellent, one merely good. I've read all sort of arguments both for and against, indeed one even despaired when comparing it to The Square, Capital and Foliage, restaurants that are approximately twice the price, and holding 5 Michelin stars between them! I suspect that Arbutus will be happy to have such a comparison even if it is meant in criticism!

People have moaned about side plates (live with it) wine mark-ups (no higher than most restaurants in London and genuinely offering something different by selling 250ml carafes at 1/3 of the full bottle price). People have complained about over cooked potatoes, praised perfectly cooked potatoes, complained about small portion size, I was the other way and after my first meal worried that portion sizes were too big. People have also commented that the food has not been warm enough, indeed this is something that I commented on after my first meal and from what I can tell has now been rectified. Overall, however, I think the praise has outweighed the complaints and we have to remember that this is a restaurant in its first week of operation, still getting used to the equipment and space.

Out of the dishes I have eaten fully or tried there are several standouts. The Lamb Boulangere, the Rabbit, the Squid and Mackerel "burger", the Chicken Sot-l'y-laisse and the ubiquitous lamb rump, indeed the Lamb boulangere followed by the rabbit saddle with cottage pie would make for a memorable if a little unbalanced meal. Crème Brulee, Floating islands and Cheesecake are all excellent examples of classic dishes.

Before people shoot me down, there have been niggles, during our first meal the chicken could have been a little warmer and the seasoning on the rabbit saddle was a little salty, probably due to the ham wrapping it, a small problem easily rectified. Mind you who cares when you have a pot of the "cottage pie" alongside? Smooth buttery potato topping the tender shoulder meat sweet with carrot and a slight aniseed twist from the tarragon. People have commented that cottage pie should have a crust, well to them I say cottage pie shouldn't be made with rabbit, its not really a cottage pie, maybe they should rename it but whatever you do don't miss it!

The most surprising dish for me has been the Squid and Mackerel burger with barbeque sauce, a dish that sounds so wrong you think the spell checker must have mistakenly replaced a couple of words when printing the menu, however its light spicing and careful cooking (crisp outside soft, lighltly cooked in the middle) combine well with the sauce redolent with star anise. The chicken oysters came with a sauce so moreish that I know I wasn't the only person to request a spoon to finish it with. Chicken cream and lemon thyme, what is there to dislike?

The lamb boulangere seems to be a little bit of a lottery, either too much potato or too much lamb dependant on who you read, well I think this is just the luck of the draw due to the way it is cooked, remember of course that this is a starter and you have a plate of sweetbreads to get through as well. Personally I like a little more potato with it, flavoursome with the lamb fat and a nice accompaniment to those sweetbreads, an excellent dish, little changed from Putney Bridge (as is the Rabbit).

Other dishes I tried included the breast of veal which was well cooked had a pleasant lacquer but perhaps could have used another element on the plate aside from the squash and could also have used a little more of the sauce, this dish had far more of a bistro feel to it than other dishes previously mentioned.

Desserts are another strong point, the floating islands and cheesecake have also transferred over from Putney Bridge. In fact so have the dishes that the floating islands (more like a continent) are served in. Good use of seasonal ingredients is shown the dish of Alphonso Mango, "Imperatrice", sorbet and crisp, buttery Breton biscuits. I was unable to detect the chocolate referred to by a previous poster but thoroughly enjoyed the use of Alphonso mango on a European menu.

Service is led by Will Smith who seems to have slipped effortlessly from the jacket and tie the more formal dining at Putney Bridge demanded to a far more casual and relaxed attitude here. No music, no smoking and a good buzz from the restaurant when it is nearly full have created a great space to dine in. If you have any questions regarding the wine list Will or Sylvan are well able to assist or suggest something. Mind you if you are worried about a bottle at full price buy a carafe at 250ml to see if you like it before taking the rest of the bottle.

Overall this is a restaurant should cause a stir in London if it continues to succeed in its aims of turning out high quality food combined with low prices. William Smith front of house combined with Anthony Demetre's and his brigades obvious talent (several of the brigade are former members of the Putney Bridge brigade) have the experience and the ability to make this restaurant the best restaurant at this price point in London.

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

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well Matt,

went along last night, and I disagree that it is serving michelin star quality food. BUT, it was blooming fantastic nonetheless. loved it.

the price is unbelievable, £25 for 3 course. giddy up!

can't be arsed going into too much detail, but I enjoyed this meal more than any I ever did at putney bridge, but that's just me.

fuck the side plates.

Soupe Pistou: fragrant, textured, and fresh. superb.

Chicken: could've been a bit warmer sure, but I talk a lot, so am used to food being a bit cold. otherwise, lovely firm texture, well balanced and precisely judged seasoning. very good.

Cherries - hell i was pished by this stage, but it was fine.

a mate loved the meaty pigs head, as did I when he wasn't looking.

the rabbit cottage pie, a panoply of textures and rich flavours.

choc soup - not for me. but hey.

the wine, there are some dodgy markups. but there often are in london restaurants. Domaine Hauvette cotes du Provence was £53, I had it last week at midsummer house for £30. as an example. but there was range, and interest across 85 bins, and I think they've done a bloody good job.

the carafe thing is brilliant. all 85 bins available by the 250ml carafe. gives a nice pour for 2 people. anyway, got so enthused we had 6 of them. may explain how the bill got a little out of control. well there were 2 of us, and it was a monday :D

super place, will be back. don't think it will be long before the prices creep up though.

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

Link to post
Share on other sites
Four Stars from Fay Maschler :smile:

She reviewed it after a visit during the half-price, warm-up period? That hardly seems cricket. It barely seems rounders.

went along last night, and I disagree that it is serving michelin star quality food. BUT, it was blooming fantastic nonetheless. loved it.

It's a point often expressed, but one that can't be expressed often enough: a good restaurant is universally agreed to be one that delivers good food in a pleasant atmosphere at a fair price. Yet we've all come to accept that such qualities are neither sufficient nor essential to win the favour of Michelin, which somehow remains the industry's own benchmark.

Absurd.

Link to post
Share on other sites
It's a point often expressed, but one that can't be expressed often enough: a good restaurant is universally agreed to be one that delivers good food in a pleasant atmosphere at a fair price. Yet we've all come to accept that such qualities are neither sufficient nor essential to win the favour of Michelin, which somehow remains the industry's own benchmark.

Absurd.

Your definition of a good restaurant is that which most people apply pragmatically in choosing where to eat. Those who go regularly to McDonald are doing exactly that in their own eyes; so is the millionaire who hops on a jet (his own) for lunch at l'Arpege. Those who are most concerned with the new Michelin ratings are ambitious chefs and dedicated followers of fashion. (Of course there are also travellers who use the Big Red Book to get a decent meal in a strange place.)

Then there's us. Many who post here are simply fascinated with what's going on--it would not be unfair to call us trainspotters. But our category can further be broken down into those who actually eat at Michelin's latest stars and those who are content to read about them--and that's not necessarily a division between the super-rich and the just scraping by..

If Michelin were predictably rational in choosing restaurants to be honored, it would take away much of the fun. Who would watch a horse race if they could figure out with certainty who would be first past the post?

Edited by John Whiting (log)

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

Link to post
Share on other sites
Your definition of a good restaurant is that which most people apply pragmatically in choosing where to eat.

(snip)

Yes, indeed, that's all true. Was just sounding off after contemplating why I, like many posters on here, prefer Arbies to Putney Bridge, despite the latter being identifiably of Michelin class while the former is not. I eventually reached the conclusion that Michelin cares overly for things I couldn't give a stuff about.

This would be okay if, as you suggest, the recommendations were only important to the people who actually read the guides -- young chefs, gastrodome tourists and gravytrainspotters. But a Michelin star has somehow been accepted in popular culture as the arbiter of cooking ability -- observe how often chefs' star quotent comes up on BBC2's ludicrous Pimp My Queen's Lunch programme.

Michelin's prejudices, and the UK public's credence of them, act to reinforce a perception that the best food must be constructed by artisans, served by penguins and eaten by people with more money than sense. It can't be top class unless it costs a bomb, comes with foam and leaves you hungry. This divisive perception does nobody any favours.

Edited by naebody (log)
Link to post
Share on other sites
Who would watch a horse race if they could figure out with certainty who would be first past the post?

Erm, anybody that likes a bet I would've thought :blink:

Funnily enough, no. First, most people betting for fun (rather than professionally/out of financial desperation) enjoy the excitement as well as the winning itself. Second, if you invariably won no one would take your bets!

Back on topic, I agree that there's a fascination about Michelin stars quite separate from any decisions about where I personally would eat. Of course, for those chefs etc whom our analogy might equate to professional gamblers, it's presumably a bit different...

Link to post
Share on other sites
Who would watch a horse race if they could figure out with certainty who would be first past the post?

Erm, anybody that likes a bet I would've thought :blink:

Funnily enough, no. First, most people betting for fun (rather than professionally/out of financial desperation) enjoy the excitement as well as the winning itself. Second, if you invariably won no one would take your bets!

What's that got to do with what I said :unsure:

I supplement my income from betting horses. If I can figure a race out to the extent I'm certain what's going to win it gives me no greater pleasure than watching my analysis being proved right.

Link to post
Share on other sites

My horse-race metaphor had to do, not with making money, but with boring predictability. If *everybody* could tell who was going to win, there'd be no point.

There's a parallel discussion going on in another website in which the suggestion has been gloriously put forth that it would be wonderful if top chefs could set up factories turning out their sous-vide specialties by the thousands to boil-in-a-bag at home. I can think of an apt comparison or two that could get me suspended from eGullet. :laugh:

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...