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arbutus or the square? [London]

looking for a wonderful place to celebrate our 20th anniversary in london--but, alas, it'll be a sunday night :-( --my first thought was hakkasan but that seems too last century. barrafina has the food,but perhaps not the anniversary atmosphere. so i'm thinking arbutus or the square, and would appreciate some advice. alas, hibiscus isn't open sundays. our hotel's in soho. thanks

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  1. Arbutus is good but for me it isn't a "big night out" place. Good for a night out with friends but not a anniversary. Not been to the Square but it looks stylish and I am certain they would spoil you.

    1. I enjoy both, but they're very different restaurants. The Square is quite formal, the food and service is outstanding. Arbutus is a bit more relaxed, and I'd agree with PhilD that it's not really an anniversary type of place as it can be quite noisy.

        1. re: tonto21

          I had a delicious dinner at The Square in late March, and on our next visit to London in June (I live in NYC), my husband and I are returning to have the tasting menu. We also will be returning to The Ledbury and The Harwood Arms.

          1. re: Nancy S.

            my thanks to you all--it's fab to have unanimity! i'm gonna book the square

            1. re: apretzel

              you'll not regret it. the square is arguably the finest food in london, genuine 3* level cooking, with sensitivity, balance and grace. it is a superb restaurant.

              Arbutus is arguably the worst michelin starred establishment in the country. it offers faux value, and acceptable cooking with average ingredients. It does have a place and something to say for itself, but its like chalk and cheese with the square.

              you made a great choice, and enjoy one of the best wine lists in the capital at the square too!

        2. the square is absolutely fantastic!!!!!!!! and i thank everyone who recommended it--we started with complimentary champagne(for the anniversary)and ended with a plate of lollipops and chocolate on a plate saying 'happy anniversary"--the food was superb, the service attentive, and the whole evening wonderful--to me, much better than marcus wareing and/or mr ramsay. not sure why it has the negative reviews, or why michelin hasn't given them 3 stars--definitely the best meal we've had in london

          3 Replies
          1. re: apretzel

            Great news. I am returning in two weeks, for a long-weekend in London. Did you have the tasting menu? If so, I would love to know the lineup of courses. Many thanks.

            1. re: Nancy S.

              my husband's a vegetarian, and since the tasting menu's for everyone at the table, we ordered a la carte. i was incredibly impressed by the way the staff,with no advance warning, changed his amuses to vegetarian(and the truffle cream they substituted for the foie gras was almost as good!). his dishes were amazing, certainly as good if not better than what we've had at l'arpege, and mine were spectacular(and the lobster--which was the most exciting option to me on the tasting menu--was available a la carte. enjoy!

            2. re: apretzel

              I am so happy to hear this. My husband and I had our 10th anniversary dinner at The Square, 9 years ago! It is still one of the best meals of our life. The food was incredible (the cheeses!!!) and wines perfect and the service could not have been better. They make you feel so special which is unfortunately, a rarity in so many fine dinning restaurants. Glad to hear that things haven't changed over the years.

            3. Alexthepink is spot on. Went to both last year. Arbutus is more hearty food whilst The Square is more polished. I wouldn't say that Arbutus offers faux value (as per Batfink) though - the serves are big and i could not finish my main which is not a problem I usually have.

              1. Our meal at The Square in February was very uneven. There were 4 of us, two had a good experience (esp with fish dishes), but two thought it was pretty awful. My husband didn't even finish his main as the meat was fatty and tough.
                The service was very good. There seems to be a member of staff for each chair in the restaurant, but it is very formal.

                I really enjoyed Arbutus; great food + vibrant atmosphere which can be hard to pull off at such a restaurant. Have you tried Wild Honey? That place is great and my favorite of the foodie havens in that area.