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Arbutus

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Anyone been lately? What's the verdict?

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  1. I haven't been for a while (though loved it the 3 or 4 times I dined there), but wanted to mention that their second restaurant opens in a couple of weeks. It is called Wild Honey and they are doing a soft opening, offering 50% off the food cost - you can book via Arbutus

    1. Went late last year for lunch on a weekday -this is the soho resturant? It was a seamlessly nice lunch food, service, even the dreaded billpaying moment! have to go back and confirm this myself.

      4 Replies
      1. re: chingaling

        I've been a couple of times and sadly always been dissapointed. First time the service was poor, and other than an individual rabbit pie, the food was a long way from great. It wasn't just a personal taste thing either - we orderd cheese which you order by type i.e. £2.50 for some stilton, £2.50 for cheddar etc. and we were given two pieces of goats cheese, both from the ends of a roll - this was acknowledged by the manager, but as it was the end of our meal we didn't want more cheese which was all that was offered. It wasn't quite the overall experience I was expecting.

        That said, the concept around the wine is excellent, and the wine list is also good.

        1. re: pomello

          Michelin London says Arbutus serves "chicken oysters with macaroni....." in their first course. What are chicken oysters??

          1. re: HickTownBarnaby

            I thought it might have something to do with what my dad called the turkey oyster every Thanksgiving. Wikipedia says:

            Chicken Oysters are two small, round pieces of dark meat on the back of a bird near the thigh, regarded by some to be the best part of the bird. ...

            I don't think it has anything to do with the seafood variety.

            1. re: zuriga1

              the description of the dish at Arbutus is "sot y laise" (sp?) which means " only a fool would leave" because it is supposed to be the best part of the chicken. It has nothing to do with the oyster other than a similarlty in shape.

              They are deicious though and some butchers sell bags of them which are great, breaded, shallow fried and served with a strong, sharp, caper sauce on top of wild rocket.

              I was not wowed by Arbutus at all. The menu reads like a dream and, when added to an impressive list of wines by the caraffe, it should add up to a sure fire thing.

              That it does not, was IMHO, down to sloppy execution.

              They are opening a second branch called " wild honey" in Mayfair soon.

              S

      2. Went on Father's Day and thought it was mediocre at best. Galvin Bros Bistro on Baker Street is far superior for the same prices.

        2 Replies
        1. re: An American Living in London

          I agree - I went last October, and it was just very mediocre and practically empty (at 1pm on a Saturday) which made it quite unpleasant as there was very little atmosphere...

          1. re: An American Living in London

            But is it really fair to judge a place based on a holiday meal? I know in the US that most places get slammed on Valentines, Mothers Day, etc. and that it makes it difficult to do a completely fabulous job.

          2. We ate here on Saturday night and had a really good meal. I did quite a lot of reading up on the restaurants before choosing it, and it a place that gets a mixed press. Almost as many average comments as positive. We are very glad we went - it is a very good example of modern British cooking, far better than found in many restaurants and gastro-pubs.

            We liked the wine menu that has lots of 250ml carafes at approx. third of the price of a bottle, logical and fair. It allows you to choose wines to match with each course - for us a rose to start, a german pinot noir for entree and a Cahors for main. Service was good, almost a little to enthusiastic with three different people wanting to help us.

            We started with the "Squid and mackerel burger, parsley, sea purslane, and razor clams", this was interesting and very well flavoured, a good dish that showed a lot of imagination. We also had the Terrine which was a very fine example, always a good test of a kitchen, not a complex dish but when it is good it indicates good standards.

            For mains we had the "Traditional bouillabaisse (Marseilles style) which was huge, great deep flavoured stock, with a separate bowl of mixed fish, and fennel, plus the traditional accompaniments of rouille and bread. A really deeply satisfying dish. We also had the "Saddle of Rabbit, English peas, shoulder cottage pie" which was another generously portioned dish. I really enjoyed it but did feel it was slightly under-seasoned.

            We skipped dessert, our fault as we had started the evening at "Maze" and had tried a couple of dishes (Jason's classic BLT and the eel and foie gras) with our aperitif, and headed for a coffee at Bar Italia. Total bill (including service) was £96.24 which we thought was very good value for the standard of food and generous portions. We would return.

            One criticism. My guess is that they keep the prices down by turning the tables. It would be a far better restaurant if they had tablecloths to deaden the noise a little and if they turned the lighting down a touch (maybe table lights or candles). The food here deserves a slightly more intimate setting than it has. OK this risks people lingering a little longer, but there are plenty of tried and tested ways of turning tables rather than resorting to bright lights and hard surfaces.

            2 Replies
            1. re: PhilD

              The setting is why I prefer sister restaurant Wild Honey, in Mayfair. The dining room at Arbutus is a bit too coldly clinical for my taste.

              I also like the carafe system - I wish more restaurants would do this.

              1. re: greedygirl

                I agree with greedygirl about the setting. It's much cosier at Wild Honey, and quieter too for some reason. Maybe Wild Honey attracts a slightly different crowd too? I also preferred the service at Wild Honey, and just felt more relaxed overall. All this is just as important as the food, in my opinion. I left with a more favourable impression than when I left Arbutus.

                Helen Yuet Ling Pang
                http://www.worldfoodieguide.com

            2. I went for a Sunday lunch service at Arbutus two weeks ago for my partner's birthday and I have to say that it was a memorable occassion. Signs were ominous when we first sat down; only one other couple in the restaurant and the pretty uninspiring interior pointing towards what could be a bit of a stiff couple of hours. Within half an hour, however, the restaurant completely packed out and it made for a very social environment.

              Really enjoyable opportunity to try some different wines with their carafe option and the waiter gave us some good advice on that front as well. Food-wise, I really thought it was special. My smoked eel was beautiful with beetroot and horseradish working alongside it with excellent balance. My main was saddle of rabbit with shoulder cottage pie, a tasty, gamey dish and well executed. My one minor gripe would be that the shoulder pie was a bit cumbersome alongside the two saddle parcels and it was a genuine (but certainly enjoyable) slog finishing the dish off. My girlfriend was similarly impressed with her squid and mackeral "burger" and salmon with mushroom and hazelnuts (which I tried; the salmon milk-ily evaporated on the tongue - superb). We finished off with shared creme brulee and an excellent Italian desert wine.

              Can't wait to try out Wild Honey!