Restaurants, Contemporary European Soho
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Arbutus (Ming Tang Evans / Time Out)
Ming Tang Evans / Time Out
Arbutus (Scott Wishart)
Scott Wishart

Please note, Arbutus is now closed. Time Out eating & drinking editors, July 2016.

Laying tables without salt and pepper is a sign of a restaurant confident in its seasoning and flavours, but on our recent visit to this smart modern eaterie, this confidence was slightly misplaced. A starter of Dorset crab, avocado guacamole, peanut and mango was untouched by seasoning, sauce or dressing, the result being bland rather than bold; and an otherwise delicious salad of broad beans, moroccan lemon and goat’s cheese came with a wild garlic whose delicate flavours were lost to its heavy tempura batter. Arbutus is usually more disciplined, clever and successfully creative with unusual and less-used ingredients, and matters returned to their customary form with the main courses. Scottish salmon was of top quality, dark in colour and light in texture, nicely complemented by a concentrated hazelnut jus. Saddle of rabbit, prettily presented with small root vegetables and stuffed with liver, was intense and succulent – but small, until the accompanying shepherd’s pie arrived 15 minutes later, a nice riposte with its salty flavours. We like the good-value set lunch and pre-theatre menus, the posh but proper puds and the fact that every wine is available by 250ml carafe. Also run by Will Smith and Anthony Demetre are Wild Honey in Mayfair and Le Deux Salons in Covent Garden.


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Arbutus says
A bustling, modern Michelin star bistro, with stylish décor and contemporary feel. Its modern artwork and design ties it closely to fashionable Soho. Arbutus opened in May 2006 with a simple but unique idea: to create a fresh, seasonal and affordable menu of the best quality and spectacular flair.
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Venue name: Arbutus
Address: 63-64 Frith Street
Opening hours: Lunch served noon-2.30pm Mon-Sat; noon-3pm Sun. Dinner served 5-11pm Mon-Thur; 5-11.30pm Fri, Sat; 5.30-10.30pm Sun
Transport: Tube: Tottenham Court Road tube
Price: Main courses £16-£21. Set lunch £17.95 2 courses, £19.95 3 courses. Set dinner (5-6.30pm) £18.95 2 courses, £20.95 3 courses
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Average User Rating

2.5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:2
  • 4 star:2
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:4
  • 1 star:4
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So... I came here with my sister hoping to enjoy some good food worthy of the Michelin star awarded to this venue. What we received was disrespect and racism. We ordered a three course meal which came shabbily presented with missing components and a waiter with a face like thunder... We later found out that our plates looked very different to the other white diners.

How can an establishment boast of its skill and class when they have none . we were the last to leave due to no one wanting to even serve us .. Absolutely disgusted and still disappointed that a place like this received a cent of my money.

The pictures below will show the fodder we were given and what other diners had that very day.

Avoid if you're of colour or you simply disagree with humans being treated like trash because of their race.


I took my family to Arbutus as a birthday treat for my mum before going to see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. My parents had never been to a Michelin Star restaurant and Arbutus is in a great location for many of London's theatres so it seemed the perfect choice. We were seated at 5.30 for the pre-theatre menu - which meant we only had the table for an hour and a half, giving us ample time to pick up our tickets from the box office and get comfortable in our seats before the performance started at 7.30. 

The pre-theatre deal included 3 courses for £25 each. The food was tasty, but we were let down by the service. Staff seemed unknowledgeable and fairly clumsy at times. As an example; we followed a carafe of wine with a carafe of a different wine, which they tried to pour in the same non-empty glasses. Not something I would expect from a Michelin Star. 

Unfortunately, after having two speedy courses, we didn't have time for our desserts as after over a thirty minute wait they still hadn't arrived. Dessert is my mum's favourite course, but we decided to cancel the order. The waitress insisted quite argumentatively that we still had enough time! As it happened we only just made it to the theatre as the final bell was calling for people to take their seats.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time was amazing, but Arbutus definitely put a damper of our evening.


Each weekend Arbutus offers a set lunch menu and cocktail via YPlan for £25, and it is by far one of the best such menus I've had. The starter was ox tongue with salsa verde, scratchings and an apple and ginger puree. It all worked together beautifully especially the apple and ginger with the hint of green chili in the verde, offsetting the crisp and tender tongue, making the best of this underused cut. The main course of Brill with a seafood cassoulet was perfectly cooked, the fish was translucent with a cassoulet being particularly light but well flavored. What was nice was that the deal included a plate of cheese which was a lovely combination of Tunworth with apricot and apricot puree, a superb combination. The chocolate fondant was really a frozen mouse but it was a lovely light thing and fitted well with the rest of the menu. The service was perfect and the homemade slow cooked bread, particularly the brown bread, was superb. The fact is that this four course meal with a cocktail all for £25 was incredible value and could not be faulted really. I will be going back to have the full menu at this Michelin Stared restaurant.


Write a review...I had a business lunch here a while ago. I like the style of this place- it feels a little cold but in quite a good, stylish way (*yes,vague comment).  The menu changes every day but from my experience, this place is excellent. I booked it because of its good reviews, I had NO idea at all that it had a michelin star. That being said, it deserves the star. It's not poncy or pretentious, just a nice place to kick back and eat good food.  It's actually pretty reasonable for a michelin(?) lunch for this quality, the lunch set me back under £75 for two people with soft drinks, coffee and two courses each, including service at 12.5%. Our waiter was really lovely- accommodating but not fussy. The food was tasty- I had a crab starter, and a cod main. The cod was particularly good - it came with a very odd looking basil crunch on top of it- which was absolutely outstanding.I would return, definitely. A great spot for an important business meal.

Still one of my favourite restaurants in London - even after all these years. Seriously good value for the standard of cooking, especially if you go for one of their ever-reliable daily dish offers. Pre-theatre's not bad either. Superb service from booking through to bill, a great selection of wines by the glass and some especially good offal dishes - make sure you give one or two a go if they're on. 

Tempted by the mention of interesting dishes such as the mackerel and squid burger, I dined here with a friend. They have apparently made quite drastic changes to their menu, and none for the better. The service was inoffensive. The meal was bland, insipid at best, and tiny portions. I wish I'd not gone because there are far better restaurants in London for the same price, and at better tasting food and service too. 

First time at this restaurant with friends for lunch. The restaurant is beautiful and in a great location. I had the pork pancetta which was bland and the cod for my main course which was extremely salty, I ate everything else but left the fish. It was a very poor service as the staff not once came to check on either course to see how it was, if they had I would have told them but myself and my friends had all tasted the fish and eaten half of it trying to decide if it was too salty, so i felt obliged to pay. The waitress didn't even as at the end of the meal if we enjoyed it or a reason why the fish was left. The restaurant wasn't busy and we had about 3 different waiters clearing and bringing drinks so not much of a excuse.

Decent setting, but the food I had was rather disappointing. I had a pre-theatre set menu with a chicken and eel terrine starter, which was a bit unimpressive but ok. The main course however - a goats cheese ricotta gnuti - was lacking in taste, and would have been more suitable as a starter. Also, the main course was actually smaller than the starter I had. To understand the size of the main course - imagine four fresh potatoes (about an inch in diameter) on a plate with some basil. That's it.

Have been to Arbutus a couple of times where I had the pre-theatre set menu with my wife and daughter. For the price it is fine, and the restaurant is convenient to West End theatres. But I fail to understand the Michelin star. Have had better presented meals at similar prices and at prettier, quieter, and more comfortable restaurants that have lost their stars.

I visited Arbutus on Valentines Day and despite the good food, the total lack of service and rude staff totally ruined my experience. I sent a complaint to them via their website TWICE and have never heard back from them. I understand it was Valentines Day, so the restaurant was fairly busy, but that did not excuse the waitors literally dropping our plates onto table and rushing off to serve other tables. We were never asked how our meals were, bread was shoved in our face, before we even had time to take off our coats and the staff showed a real lack of customer service. Service is one of the main things in a restaurant and it is severly lacking at Arbutus. Would never visit again

This place is awesome. I've been so many times now i've lost count. What makes it is the incredible service, even on the second time i went, the waiters remembered me and my partner, and everything comes with a smile. On top of that, they are all so well informed on every bit of the menu it's incredibly impressive. You can be sure that they know what they're talking about, and will give you honest opinions on anything you ask. Then comes the food... I've not once been let down. Everything I've had has been delicious, well cooked, well prepared and wonderful. Wine- good range, and on top of that you can get a 500ml carafe of pretty much everything on offer, for the same price as 2/3 of the bottle would be. Meaning you can chop and change wines depending on your course if you fancy. And always ask your waiter- they'll give perfect advice, and never very expensive ones Overall this place just has the perfect mix of great food, great service, but without the snotty attitude that so many places of the same standard have

Went to Arbutus last weekend with my boyfriend. And it was OK. Really OK. In fact this whole place just sits in this sort of flannel like state of mediocrity. We are shown to our tables, the restaurant interior and atmosphere is quite nice. The staff are pleasant and helpful with the wine menu. They bring round some decent bread- no salt and not enough butter (maybe I am just greedy!). There is so background music- I like no music and I think a restaurant has to actually be quite brave to do it. No music is far superior to bad music. Which incidentally, restaurant music usually is. Food: We both had the much talked about mackerel burger to start. It was ok. It was edible, I was hungry so I ate it. I mean it did not offend me, but it could have done with some more seasoning, the texture was a bit spongey too. It tasted quite fresh. All OK. But not setting the world alight or anything. Main course: I had the rabbit with rabbit cottage pie, endive and another green vegetable (?). Again, it was ok. A little dry but not enough to take back, again could have done with some seasoning. I was hoping for sumptious comforting cottage pie and rabbit and it was all a bit measured, neat and boxed in every way possible. My boyfriend had a steak. It was OK. BUT..listen up folks. The dauphonoise potatoes he had with his steak were just the best things I have eaten in a long time. Just creamy and perfectly salty and garlicky, soft with just enough bite and that nice skin on the top. These were good. Go to this place and order these potatoes. Three of them. Then leave. Anyway, then had the apple tarte tatin. I am particular about pudding. I am particularly particular about tarte tatin. Decent amount of caramel, no soggy pastry but not too dry either and the caramel should clump up a bit around the edges with a good dollop of vanilla cream or ice cream. This was not tarte tatin. This was stewed apples on pastry with a bit of caramel which had not been cooked for long enough. The pastry did not have that buttery warmness which you expect when ordering this very special pudding. This place has a Michelin star. I do not see how. Really do not get it. I think its actually just quite OK. If I went with the expectations which I would have when going to a high street chain French bistro-ey brasserie/gastro restaurant (like chain Cote or something similar) I would not have felt so dissapointed. In fact would have thought it was perfectly fine. As it is, its 'okishness' irriritated me. Alot.