When small northern chain The Botanist sprouted up in the basement of the Trinity shopping centre, it quickly gained a reputation as the place to eat, drink and be seen in the heart of the city. It can be impossible to secure a table at the weekend without booking beforehand, but those who do are offered one of the most stylish evenings to be had. The bar-restaurant has spared no expense on the décor, with plant pots, wooden shelves, sifting pans instead of lampshades, and tools hanging over the tables. The waiting and bar staff are clad in braces, aprons and shirts with the sleeves rolled up, while caramel-coloured wood and leather stools and shabby-chic tables add to the earthy aesthetic.
The gardening theme corresponds to the venue’s focus on making botanists out of its bartenders, with herbs, leaves, berries and fruit being combined to glorious effect in a cocktail shaker. Although the food menu is strong enough to make you want to return, it is the drinks that take centre-stage at The Botanist’s eccentric show. Like The Alchemist upstairs, experimentation with exotic and unusual flavours is the drink menu’s selling point, as top spirits and strong-flavoured plants are harmoniously tumbled together.
Some of the mixes sound terrible on paper – such as porcini-infused syrup and tomato juice – yet somehow produce sweet music rattled together with ice in a pretty glass. The drinks range from the simple (watermelon martinis) and the intriguing (think sorrel and orange mojitos), to the wacky, such as the red pepper and porcini Manhattan – all at an average price of £7.50. It’s worth sampling at least one, but if mixology’s not your thing there’s an equally large list of champagnes, wines and non-alcoholic ‘mocktails’ to tickle your fancy.
Food-wise it would be hard for even a picky eater to find something that didn’t tempt them on a menu that focuses on barbeque and rotisserie-style cuisine – not forgetting the list of ‘home comforts’ such as sausage and mash, rarebit, cheese and onion pie, and Thai green curry (averaging £11). For a few nibbles to complement a cocktail, there is a selection of pub-inspired starters, as well as a large choice of components to make a large deli board, which is priced from £10. Throw into the mix live music throughout the week and a rousing Thursday sing-along, and this is certainly somewhere to dig.
|Venue name:||The Botanist|
67 Boar Lane
|Opening hours:||Sun-Wed noon-midnight; Thu noon-1am; Fri-Sat noon-2am|