Arbutus Review, Soho – giving tripe a chance
- Restaurant: Arbutus
- Cuisine: Modern European, strong nod to French
- Location: Soho, Firth Street, London
- The bill: NA here but probably £45 per head or so
- Value for money: 7.5/10
- Service: 9.5/10
- Ambiance: 8/10
- Food: 8/10
- Jelly Good Food Rating: 8/10
Scottish hand chopped steak tartare x2
Pieds et paquets – lambs’ tripe parcels and trotters (Marseille style).
Cod fillet, crisp chicken wings (boneless), pink grapefruit, ginger and honey preserve.
Bitter chocolate mousse (70% Cru Virunga), Sicilian orange sorbet.
Dulce de leche – milk jam ice cream
Guest Photographer for this blog post was friend A who took me to Arbutus for a pre-birthday treat!
The minute we walked in, the feel of this place reminded me of my favourite restaurant (Pollen Street Social) in terms of vibe and decor – I really like that simple laid back chic – minimalist bar and tables but made of marble so clearly not a transient venture. Its casual yet smart – there are no white table cloths but interesting artwork and a serious menue.
Friend A ordered Tripe! Tripe, oh tripe, how I have feared you…Our waiter even tried to talk her out of it, for about 2-3 minutes…my friend swayed but persisted with her bold choice – we all agreed that if she was ever to try it then Arbutus was the place to do it.
First however, our steak tartare arrived. Very enjoyable, nicely seasoned, not in an overpowering way.
Next, the mains: My cod fillet was tasty – highlight of that dish was definitely the pink grapefruit, ginger and honey preserve – really sharp and unusual and perfectly matched to the skillfully cooked cod, the boneless chicken wings impressed me with their lack of bones but were far too dry.
Getting to the tripe: this dish is made up of lamb tripe cooked together with lamb feet – its a traditional dish from the Marseilles region of France. It came served on 4 different plates. 3 plates containing various tripe concoctions and another one with a slice of toast which had a layer of grayish stuff in it that was infact the trotters.
It appears that the trick to cooking tripe is to make it taste as much as possible of not tripe. Much care was taken here and a lot of herbs and spices were involved – the result was that the pieds et paquets did not taste that bad. The best tripe dish out of the 3 came in a pot with vegetable crumble with thin slices of tripe in layers inside – that was bordering on tasty. The beef tripe fritters, which looked like big pork scratchings were my least favourite because they were chewy and didn’t taste of anything much other than tripe and fat. The tripe parcels themselves were somewhere in the middle – ok to eat but not in a rush to order these again. When these 3 dishes were taken away, the toast with the trotters was served – trotters, it turns out basically are a bit like fat-meat jelly, they have a lot of texture. Fine to eat, but haven’t got me hooked yet.
In any case, very proud of friend A for being brave enough to try this out and give me the chance to aswell!
After that adventure, dessert was well deserved and very enjoyable – fantastically thicker-than-normal chocolate mouse with a perfect little sorbet for friend A and a delicate, creamy dulche de leche ice cream served in a silver bowl for me. Yum.
Staff were really nice, can’t fault the service and also I should mention that at Arbutus they let you order carafes of wine which means you can pair wine to each course.
Jelly Good Food Bottom Line:
Understated, glam yet not pretentious. Very serious about their food and has an interesting menue. Somewhat pricey but i guess they did get their Michelin star in 2007 and it is appropriate for the location and level of cooking.