Thursday, 24 November 2011

Arbutus - exceptional value in Soho

Cornish Silver Mullet
at Arbutus

At £16.95 for three-courses, is this the best value lunch in Soho?  There's certainly plenty of competition in the area, so keen-pricing goes with the territory, but Arbutus has to be right up there.  The daily-changing menu makes good use of seasonal foods and cheaper cuts enabling them to keep prices down without compromising quality.  After a recent faultless three-course set lunch, it was clear why Arbutus had been awarded a Michelin star in 2007, but lunch for two at less than £60 including wine and service?  Despite the accolades, Arbutus continues to offer exceptional value for money.

The two rooms are stripped back but stylish and comfortable.  The cooking displays classical techniques without being fussy and flavour combinations are spot-on.  I'm normally very reluctant to photograph my food but in this case the presentation was, as you can see, too beautiful to pass-up.  The whole winelist is available by the 250ml carafe, making it easy to pair wines with dishes.  Service is friendly and highly focussed and, especially appealing to me, you can opt to eat at the marble bar.

Arbutus opened in May 2006, the first of the three restaurants opened by Anthony Demetre and Will Smith, followed by Wild Honey and Les Deux Salons.  I've eaten well in all three but Arbutus is my favourite these days.  Looking to cheaper cuts of meat, the menu can include dishes like Slow-cooked Scottish Beef, Crispy Pig's head or Pieds et Paquets (lamb's tripe parcels and trotters ) but you can also expect to be offered something like a fresh Ricotta Gnocchi, Bouillabaisse, Grilled Cornish Gurnard or Steak Tartare.  Comforting puddings such as Clafoutis and Bread and Butter are particularly well done.
Bread and Butter Pudding
at Arbutus
Our recent lunch started with a plate of delicate Warm Pork Porchetta and a homely seasonal Soup of Autumn Greens, lifted to a higher plain by the addition of lemon and nutmeg.  Next came perfectly cooked Cornish Silver Mullet served on a lovely salt-cod brandade and sweet mussels, and a dish of Slow Cooked Scottish Beef with carrots, served with a dish of perfect Gratin Dauphinoise potatoes.  Dessert was Bread and Butter Pudding with the addition of a salted caramel sauce.  With 2 carafes of Barbera D'Asti red from Piedmont £9.00 for a 250ml carafe (£26.50 a bottle) the bill for 2 people came to less than £60 including excellent service.

Arbutus also offer 3-course pre-theatre menus at £16.95 and £18.95.  You can expect to pay around £35 per head for a la carte.  Open every day for lunch and dinner.

63-64 Frith Street
Soho, London  W1D 3JW
Tel: 020 7734 4545