Review on Arbutus
Anthony Demetre and Will Smith hit the ground running when they opened Arbutus, within six months it had scooped Time Out's 'Restaurant of the Year' and 'London Newcomer of the Year' in the Good Food Guide; a Michelin star in 2007 was the icing on the cake.
The restaurant's name is a nod to old Soho and the famous arbutus (strawberry tree) that once stood proudly in nearby Soho Square. The location was also something of a homecoming for Demetre himself, since he worked in the premises when it was Bruno Loubet's Bistro Bruno.
What you have now is a no-frills, L-shaped dining room with big box tables, an American-style 12-seater 'eating bar', and woven plastic tablemats instead of starched white cloths. Foodwise, Arbutus bucks the trend for seemingly endless complexity – so, don't expect pre-starters, mini-desserts and other extraneous paraphernalia. Here is modern European food, straight and true, delivered with style and bags of confidence.
The chunky squid and mackerel burger (something akin to a Thai fishcake) has become a signature dish served with razor clams, and it sets the tone for a litany of dishes that might include braised pig's head with potato purée and caramelised onions, bouillabaisse, saddle of rabbit with shoulder 'cottage pie' and green flat beans, and 'pieds et paquets' (lamb's tripe packet and trotters). Then come desserts such as strawberries with rice pudding mousse or warm chocolate soup with caramelised milk ice cream.
Lunch and pre-theatre menus are remarkable value and, to cap it all, the keenly priced, 50-bin wine list has everything available in 250ml carafes: expect a roll-call of fascinating gems from innovative producers. Demetre and Smith's second restaurant - Wild Honey - is now open in the former Drones Club at 12 St George Street, Mayfair W1.
Arbutus is also featured in: Michelin Guide, Good Food Guide, Hardens, AA GuideRate this Restaurant
Restaurant Opening Times
Lunch: 12.00 - 2.30pm (12.30 - 3.00pm Sun)
Dinner: 5.00 - 11.30pm (5.30 - 10.30pm Sun)
Accepted credit cards
Visa, Master Card, American Express