Arbutus is a snazzy bistro located in the heart of London SoHo, with a one Michelin star to its name.
Despite its one star, it is still affordable (£18.95 2 courses – £20.95 3 courses) thanks to its pre-theatre menu. As the name states, it’s a set menu served earlier than usual, typically starts around 6pm and ends by 730pm or 8pm, depending on the restaurant. That’s when the actual dinner crowd comes in, as the Europeans tend to eat a little later than the Asians do. This worked out fine for us as we were all starving by 6pm and we are Asians, used to eating that early anyway.
The Pre Theatre menu changes from day to day but here’s a taste of what you can get at Arbutus.
Sumptuous butter. I’ve never tasted plain butter this good.
Generally I thought the food was quite interesting. My choices weren’t fantastic because I was served bread at every course; from the neverending bowl of fresh rolls they serve to whet your appetite as you wait, to the slice of bread that came with my tartine, and the slice of bread that arrived with the cod.
We started dinner with a pre-dinner drink. Bryan is daintily sipping on his French martini.
Old fashioned farmhouse country terrine, with toasted sourdough.
i liked the pickles on the terrine best. reminded me of Japan.
From wikipedia: Terrine is a French forcemeat loaf similar to a pâté, made with more coarsely chopped ingredients. Usually served cold or at room temperature.
I learn something new everyday.
Thinly sliced ox tongue with crisp radish salad and mustard. Again a strange dish as I’m not used to the texture of tongue but this was sliced so thinly it takes away the strangeness. i LIKE.
Lamb shoulder kofte, spinach, chickpeas and yoghurt.
This was surprisingly good. I like lamb but I thought I’d give it a miss as I assumed it was braised lamb and I do not like braised meat. Instead it came out as a chunk of firm meat and not flimsy and shreddy as braised meat tend to get. Very delish.
Salt cod brandade, parsley salad, toasted sourdough.
Again, I didn’t know what is brandade until they served it. Brandade is a French style of cooking where salt cod is pureed, sometimes with the addition of potatoes. So imagine my surprise when I was served baby food.
Vanilla tofu cheesecake.
This was heavenly. Although I was about to burst from all the bread, I couldn’t stop my hand from spooning this lovely morsel of cheesecake heaven into my mouth. It has the lovely light taste of sweetness with an even fainter hint of lemon. I love desserts that are lightly flavoured so it doesn’t overpower your palate.
Panna cotta scented with barley, sugared almonds and Alphonso mango.
Arbutus is an interesting place to try out different ideas and flavours. I’d recommend this to anyone looking for a moderately priced restaurant to pig out at.