Arbutus has long been on my bucket list to try. I have been to the pop up that Anthony Demetre did at Tower 42 just before it became City Social and absolutely loved it (read my review here). For one reason or another I’ve just never gotten round to visiting Arbutus. When I received an offer for a 4 course meal plus welcome cocktail for £35 in my inbox, I decided to book the restaurant for my next girl’s get-together. Located in the heart of Soho, Arbutus was opened in 2006 by Chef Anthony Demetre and his business partner Will Smith. It has also held one Michelin star since 2007. It sounded perfect for our dinner.
Arriving at the restaurant we were greeted warmly by the restaurant manager and front of house team. We were led into the dining room, which felt cosy and intimate. I particularly loved the beautiful wooden tables and “interesting” artwork in the ladies toilets. Shortly after taking out seats our welcome cocktail arrived and we were left with the set menu that our deal was based around. The menu comprised of 2 choices for each course. It makes deciding what to order so much easier and on this occasion one of the dishes in both starter and the main course had fennel in it, so an even easier choice for me. I can’t stand the taste of fennel/aniseed.
To start I ordered the ravioli of cime de rapé and goat’s curd, wild mushroom and Parmesan. The ravioli was perfectly al dente and the goats curd filling had a nice lemony zing to it. The wild mushrooms brought a lovely bit of woodiness to the dish that balanced out the citrus well. Two of my friends ordered the alternate starter of mackerel and I’m not sure if they just didn’t read the menu properly or what the issue was, but when the dish arrived, it was mackerel tartare. Neither of them even like sushi, so to eat raw mackerel that naturally has quite a strong flavour would’ve been a big ask! Our waiter must’ve sensed this and came over straight away to see if everything was ok. When they told him, he changed their dish to the ravioli without even batting an eye lid. We were all so impressed with the way this was handled, he was a consummate professional and it really set the tone for what was to be a really enjoyable evening.
I ordered the crispy Elwy Valley lamb, broccoli, toasted buckwheat and salsa verde for my main meal. For two of us, it could possibly be the nicest lamb dish we have ever ordered in a restaurant! High praise indeed! The piece of meat had a nice crisp to it, but the inside was tender and moist. The fillet was marbled with fat that added a huge amount of flavour to it. One of my most favourite things in the world is a lamb chop cooked on the barbecue by my dad and this dish gave it a serious run for its money. Sorry dad! It was accompanied by a salsa verde and anchovy paste of some sort, which added yet another dimension of flavours to the dish. The tenderstem broccoli was well cooked and still had a nice bite to it. Overall it was a truly outstanding dish. Apologies for the quality of the picture – it is terrible and doesn’t do the dish justice at all. Such a shame!
The next course was Goldon Cross, medlar jelly. Nope, I had no idea what that was either. It turned out to be cheese. It was nice enough but probably a little uneccessary.
And finally onto dessert. Aerated dark chocolate, Miyagawa oranges, amaranth. It was a bit like pieces of Aero with a rich chocolate and caramel mousse. I really enjoyed the fresh pieces of orange scattered around the bowl. It was a sweet end to a gorgeous meal.
Service was excellent without being stuffy as you would expect to find in a Michelin starred restaurant. Our waiter was charming and nothing was too much trouble for him, as I’ve said earlier he was a true professional. Our total bill for 4 people came to £218.14 which included service, a 4 course menu, wine and a coffee.
It is easy to see why Arbutus has been such a long-standing fixture in London where restaurants open and close at a rate of knots. I think they have the combination of great food, great service and the price point just right that makes a really successful restaurant. I would very much like to visit again with TBH so that he can experience it too.
Next up, The Better Half and I are going with a group of our friends to Club Carnivore at Vivat Bacchus. It sounds like my perfect evening – red wine only, red meat only and magnums only! Look out for the blog post coming soon…
Until we eat again!