A Sunday set menu is the perfect way to sample some of London’s most interesting restaurants which might seem a little expensive or fussy for a midweek dinner. And, in this instance, it’s an easy way to choose what to eat from a daunting menu.
Arbutus is a michelin starred restaurant in Soho known for it’s Weekend Lunch menu; a three course set menu for £23.00 which is a real steal. The restuarant has an understated ambience – bare wooden tables, simple wine glasses and a single table setting (as if you’re only going to have one course) all create a relaxed atmosphere. When we first arrived, I was a little worried as we walked past the long empty bar and rounded the corner at the back of the room. I was relieved to first hear then see the buzz of the full second room on this balmy Sunday. We were seated near the large windows at the front of the room which overlook the road (sadly, our outlook was sandbags and scaffolding as the building opposite undergoes restructuring, but even that looks good in such bright summer sunshine).
The set menu offers you three choices for each course – and, they don’t forget about the accompanying drink. The menu offers you seasonal cocktails and craft ale or beers to complement your meal.
To start, I had the ham with capers – it was thinly sliced to avoid the meat being chewy, and perfectly garnished. It’s not until I started this blog that I realised how integral to a dish a well-placed garnish is.
My dining partner for the day, Chris, had the potato veloute. I was wary of this when I read it on the menu – and when the dish was placed in front of Chris I was equally suspicious. The slow-cooked egg looked like an island marooned in a creamy yellow ocean. But, I was assured that it was in fact delicious, so that teaches me for being shy of an eclectic listing!
For mains, I had the grilled salmon with crushed broccoli. Broccoli is probably my favourite vegetable, so this went down a treat, and the dish was really made by the smoked vinaigrette dressing.
Chris the risk-taker made the pick of the day in choosing the rabbit with artisanal black pudding. Black pudding is something I would never choose, but in this instance I regretted it. This main was rich yet delicate – a real feast for the tastebuds.
After such sumptuous starters and mains, I had high hopes for dessert. I was sadly disappointed however – I opted for the rosewater scented cheesecake, but the consistency of the dish was more flan-like. It wasn’t in the least bit fluffy or creamy like a cheesecake should be, nor could I taste/smell the rosewater. I was (twice in the same meal!) trumped by my companion who chose the pistachio sponge with raspberries (deconstructed, so it looked a bit like a loofah sponge) but was so light and delicious. I should have guessed – you can’t go wrong with pistachio!
So despite it’s betraying inconspicuous atmosphere, the food is actually pretty fancy here. Definitely worth a visit – be prepared for some tasty fussiness!