We had arbutus in Soho on our Restaurants to do list for a while now. We were looking for a restaurant to take clients, which was in central London and arbutus seemed like a nice option for a casual business lunch. This restaurant is fairly small but is bright and airy. The restaurant has a distinct French feel in terms of service but the food is English/Italian in style. We were welcomed into the bustling restaurant and taken into the back room that overlooks Dean Street and seated on the benches with our back to the wall. There was four of us for lunch and although I really liked this restaurant it probably wasn’t right for the people we were entertaining as it was modern and surprisingly loud and our guests were more old school and prefer it a little quieter.
We were seated at a crisp white table and were offered slices of warm bread by the smart waiter. The service was efficient but not intrusive which suited our relaxed afternoon lunch plans. For starter we ordered the Roquefort salad, poached eel and steak tartare. The tartare was tasty although slightly under seasoned and the chunks were cut too thinly. The salad was tasty with the caramelised nuts working well with the creamy cheese and bitter apple. This was washed down with a bottle of Malbec.
For main course we ordered the lambs’ tripe, shoulder, trotters, which tasted as strange as it sounded. I am not a fan of tripe at the best of times but it really did taste of that pungent tripe taste that lingers. We also ordered the grilled beef, caramelised onion purée, braised celery with bone marrow gratin. The beef was succulent and tender and went well with the caramelised sticky sauce. The other dish we ordered was the wild sea bass, potato gnocchi, Cornish mussels and sea foam. The small delicate piece of sea bass went well with the creamy foam and the mussels but I would argue less so with the gnocchi which were too dense for this otherwise light dish. The food is very French in its presentation with small dishes that are carefully arranged. For lunch this is fine but I would suggest going for three courses and a side if you feel very hungry. The main course was washed down by another bottle of Malbec that was becoming easier and easier to drink.
We ordered espressos to round up the lunch. As I said unlike a lot of other restaurants in European cities, for a lunchtime meal, we did not feel rushed by the waiters. I think one of the reasons for this was that reservations are needed for this place so customers are unlikely to come looking for a spare table making it less of a rush for waiters.
Although a little loud we really liked this restaurant as the food quality, menu options and presentation was well thought out. The staff were professional and efficient and the light modern decor was comfortable and relaxing. As a result we give arbutus:
Food Atmosphere Service