Table Talk: Where Jon Holmes eats ..

I like to challenge people to take me to restaurants I haven't tried, and they don't often succeed. Somebody once said that there can't be many people who have had as many business lunches as me. They're probably right.

by
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Arbutus is a busy and buzzy modern restaurant in Soho. I first visited it with Stuart Higgins, former editor of the Currant Bun. We went there after a write-up in the Independent on Sunday, which said it was excellent. We agreed, and subsequently took our wives, and I've been on five or six occasions since. My clients include the likes of Gary Lineker and David Gower. Whenever I take a business acquaintance there, they always enjoy it.

The restaurant has a very unusual menu, and the food's beautifully cooked. The service has always been prompt. I can't stand people being slow. I am a big complainer, and I'm probably known as having quite a fierce presence. The Ivy once pissed me about. I had a booking in the evening, and after 45 minutes I was still waiting and they hadn't approached me, so I walked out. I told them I'd never go back, and I haven't.

People are conscious of costs these days. They prefer to save their money and wait to go to their first-choice place, rather than accepting somewhere else. Restaurateurs such as Richard Shepherd, Jeremy King and Chris Corbin are still doing well; others may know how to cook, but they're going out of business because they don't know how to run a restaurant.

ARBUTUS
63-64 Frith Street, London W1D 3JW, 020 7734 4545,
www.arbutusrestaurant.co.uk
Three-course set lunch: £15.50
Sample dishes:
Gratin of ox tripe £11.50
Line-caught sea bass £18.50
Traditional bouillabaisse £19.95

- Jon Holmes is MD of Jon Holmes Media

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