Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Frith Street
London W1D 3JW

Arbutus is a genus of flowering plants in the family Ericaceae, native to warm temperate regions of the Mediterranean, western Europe, and North America” – Wikipedia

I realise that is becoming harder and harder to come up with an original name for a restaurant but you really have to wonder if a random number generator was involved in selecting ARBUTUS! No doubt the two founders of Arbutus have some suitably clever story for how this name came to be chosen but it does seem terribly naff to me.

In any case I took a date there last Saturday and was quite pleased with the restaurant. I had been there for lunch and wanted to try the full dinner experience. The space is U shaped around a central stairwell so you do not get a feeling for how big the restaurant is rather it is quite private and you only see a half dozen or so tables. She found the décor rather cold and impersonal but then she’s a creative type whereas I liked the décor but then I’m an analyst type.

Service was attentive and unlike so many London restaurants they where not constantly trying to fill our vine glasses up to the rim. This may sound a bit ridiculous but I am really annoyed at the fact that London waiting staff rarely knows how to pour vine.

In deference of her dislike of food that looks back at you I decided against having the braised pig head for witch the restaurant has become famous. Instead we had:

  • Crab Salad with garlic mayo that she pronounced excellent;
  • Smoked eel with beetroot and beetroot horseradish cream that was an absolutely brilliant combination.
  • Bavette of beef with potatoes dauphinois and red vine shallot sauce – ordered medium definitely came rare and judging by the amount left over not to her liking despite her protestations that it was very good;
  • Saddle of rabbit, shoulder cottage pie and braised shallots – this really was excellent, the boneless saddle was perfectly cooked moist and tasty and the cottage pie really could have stood on its own it was that good;
  • Selection of cheeses: Nothing much to report although the Alderwood was excellent;

All accompanied by Gevrey-Chambertin, Cuve Ostrea, Domain Trapet 2004, one of my all time favourite vines which did not disappoint.

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