Having heard many good things about Arbutus, I decided to go for lunch on Friday last week. What came to follow was a thorough disappointment, to say the least.
Sourdough bread - Good, brown & white available - both with good thick crusts.
Steak tartare - Flavour was there, but sinew hadn't been removed from the beef before it was chopped, much of it clung together in strands.
Bouillabaisse - Presented in a rather quirky way that I have never seen before, with the fish, broth, vegetables, croutons and rouille all served seperately in a 'make it how you like it' style. I didn't attempt the croutons, as the same bread had been served at the start of the meal and with the steak tartare. The broth was delicious combined with the rouille, potato & leeks were cooked through, though the fennel still had the tough stalk attached. Moving on to the fish; I can't help but feel the fillets were all cooked for the same length of time. The chunky cod was *just* about edible as the thickest piece there, while the thinner fillets were completely overdone and, hence, dried out. Just to top things off, I found 5 pin bones in what fish I did eat, and left them clearly visible on the rim of the bowl. Nothing mentioned by the waiting staff regarding the bones; I also had to ask for a soup spoon when I managed to get the attention of one of the waitresses.
I didn't stay for dessert, opting for a nice pastry in Soho instead.
I work in the restaurant trade, and if a customer says their meal was 'fine' would be cause for concern. Acceptable in a bistro (Perhaps?) but not a 1-Star where the staff make claims along the lines of "It must be good if it takes three of us to serve it" (bouillabaisse). On reflection, the initial claims as I sat at the table also ring thoroughly untrue; the usual banter of 'have you been here before' and 'I recommend...' was followed by "You know we have a Michelin Star? Do you know why?", to which I suggested that an inspector had deemed it worthy. "It is because all the food on our menu is excellent."
I hope it was an off day for this restaurant, but I shall never be returning to it or either sister establishments and I can't say it will come recommended to anybody I know.