Thursday, November 25, 2010


My first meal at Arbutus had been a very long time coming. I had walked past the quaint facade of the restaurant many times before and wished that I had been one of the convivial faces bunched up inside the warm interior. Even though it is set amongst a myriad of great restaurants on the same street (and not to mention in the wider Soho area)...there is something about Arbutus that sets it apart.
For this occasion my friend Miss C decided that she wanted to come on one of my ‘adventures’ and try a “really nice” restaurant. I suggested Arbutus. She booked it for four. I dragged along some old friends that I hoped would add value...and they did. My account of our evening at Arbutus subsequently follows x
Where: Arbutus, 63-64 Frith St
When: A Tuesday night 7:30 -10:30pm
What: A much lauded restaurant for its quality dining in relaxed and informal surroundings. This restaurant had been on my must visit list forever, so we booked weeks in advance.  Arbutus is part of the team also behind Wild Honey in Mayfair and the recently opened Les Deux Salon in Covent Garden (Both also on my list). The chef and co-owner Anthony Demetre cooks modern British cuisine with a European/French twist to a very high standard-michelin star standard to be exact
Who: A banker, A forensic, A lawyer and I (A fox)
Food: Starters: The banker chose: Veal bolognese, olive oil, parmesan and fresh parpadelle. The forensic and I chose: Salad of young beetroots, fresh goats curd, lemon and honey vinaigrette. The lawyer chose: Braised pigs head (without moustache), potato puree, ravioli of caramelised onions

Mains: The forensic chose: Traditional bouillabaisse. The banker and lawyer chose: Grilled bavette of beef. I chose the risotto of red wine, radicchio and taleggio

Drinks: On arrival I sat at the bar and waited for my guests to arrive. The bar tenders were extremely attentive and friendly.  To make the start of their evening interesting, and to entertain me whilst I waited, they offered me a degustation of wines to try. The extensive wine list made it hard to choose...but I settled on a chardonnay and it was delicious. It was a pity that once we were seated our waitress was not as attentive as the boys at the bar had been. Eventually my guests were treated to some Scottish and French beer, Miss C started with a pear and prosecco aperitif and we all shared a delicious St Emilion red to accompany dinner. This red was suggested by a waiter we hailed from another table.
Price: Our bill came to 200 pounds...We certainly could have spent more than that but as it was a Tuesday night and we were limiting our alcohol intake, the bill was manageable.  Nor did we have dessert of coffee
Service:  The service on entry was impeccable as was the attention I received whilst I sat and waited at the bar. We were also given a table in the window overlooking Frith St, which I presume is a perk of reserving so far in advance. It was a pity that we received a waitress who was a scattish. Her service was all or nothing and if she didn’t present us with the bill we could easily have confused her as another random diner. I can’t say she added any value to our evening. Other diners seemed to be getting more seamless service.
Clientele: The clientele was refined and sophisticated. Three dapper boys shared the bar with me before my guests arrived. There is something good about being surrounded by nice looking people when you eat.
Ambiance: A really nice ambiance- However if I was on a date I would have wanted the lights to be dimmed down a notch. Actually I think date or no date the restaurant would have had better ambiance if the lights were dimmer
Saw: No-one of interest...perfect
Bathrooms: I was disappointed with the bathrooms...I would liken them to that of a rural rugby club. Except for the presence of loccitaine hand products. They have always been a favourite. 
Would I go again?  Yes I probably would as it is one of the better restaurants in the theatre district and it has a very dynamic menu.  It is also one of those rare restaurants that can balance between being a nice place to regularly go for dinner and also a place to go for special occasions
Also of note: As we were paying the bill Miss C and I saw the desserts arrive to the table next to us. Envy sunk in and we immediately regretted not ordering. We will be back.

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