I must admit as I slowly passed Arbutus’s window I was a little worried. It looked very posh, very formal and not very me. However my first impressions were unfounded. On entering the restaurant we were greeted warmly at the front desk and shown to our table. Our table was in the corner near the serving area but was simply decorated, no white linen cloths for me to dirty, phew that was a relief. The place was buzzing and the atmosphere was relaxed, another tick in the correct box.
First thing I did was check out the wine list, can’t help it. I again was pleasantly surprised, this may be a michelin star restaurant but in the wine list the prices were not the usual overpriced bottles. I picked a bottle of white rioja at just under £15. Next thing the menu.
To have the set menu or to not have the set menu. Can’t help myself and have to pick off the main menu. For starter, I decide to have squid and mackerel burger, parsley, razor clams, sea pursalane. When the plate arrives it is brilliantly dressed, looks fresh and I can’t wait to tuck in. I am not disappointed as its a sublime dish, the razor clams are zingy on my tongue and the burger full of complex tastes.
My husband decides on hand chopped scottish beef tartare and toasted sourdough bread. When it arrives its about the size of a muffin with a perfectly presented egg yolk nestled on top. I did have a taste and it did taste exquisite, although not something that I would usually order. James gobbled the whole thing up, was offered more bread when he finished his allocated slices but declined another tick in the box.
Completely satisfied after the starter was the mains. I played it safe and had something that I knew I would love. I had Bavette of beef (28 day aged), gratin dauphinoise and red wine sauce. The waitress who took my order stated – this is normally cooked meduim rare – fine with me was the response. When my order arrived the steak was beautiful. It cut so smoothly like a knife going through butter and just melted in my mouth. The dauphinoise was in a little copper pot, swimming in butter and cream. I had to ask James to finish it off for me as I found it just a tad on the rich side.
James had for his main course pieds et paquets which roughly translates as lambs tripe parcels and trotters. Our waitress double checked to make sure that James knew exactly what he was ordering. Being from Scotland we’ve had our fair share of sheep stomach in the haggis we regularly scoff. When James main arrived it came with a plate with 2 pieces of sheep stomach along with a small casserole dish with added tripe in a sauce, then finally it was a plate of bread topped with chopped up trotters. James didn’t know where to start – he quickly devoured the trotters and moved onto the tripe. The tripe was beautiful. A million miles away from what I expected. James finished it all – the head waiter was impressed.
To pud or not to pud. We were having such a good time we though why not! Another thing I really liked about arbutus was that the wine and water was just left on the table. You were expected to pour the wine yourself not wait on a waiter – I like that! Its more relaxed.
Sorry I digress – back to the puds. James and I don’t normally have puds but we thought why not. I had floating island, custard and pink pralines. Oh my goodness, it was beautiful. The floating island was about the size of a hockey puck and was just as light as a feather. The pralines added crunch and texture which contrasted brilliantly with the light meringue. The custard was light and deeply flecked with vanilla.
James had cold chocolate fondant, chocolate wafer and salted caramel ice cream. The fondant was dark and full of flavour, perfectly matched with the salted ice cream. Oh did I mention we had a desert wine as well…. well we were enjoying ourselves.
Completely sated we finished our meals with coffee and liquours before retrieving our coats. We had both had a thoroughly enjoyable taste experience.
Cost – 3 Course lunch for 2, a bottle of wine, 2 glasses of desert wine, 2 coffees and liquors – £110.