1. Lively, busy bar with sunlight streaming in through the windows.
    Photograph: Supplied / Ms Botanica
  2. Cocktails at Ms Botanica.
    Photograph: Supplied / Ms Botanica
  3. Lush furnishings at Ms Botanica.
    Photograph: Supplied / Ms Botanica
  4. Ms Botanica snack.
    Photograph: Supplied / Ms Botanica
  5. Plate of oysters with a lime half for squeezing.
    Photograph: Supplied / Ms Botanica
  6. Cocktail at Ms Botanica.
    Photograph: Supplied / Ms Botanica
  • Bars | Cocktail bars
  • Yarraville
  • Recommended

Review

Ms Botanica

4 out of 5 stars

A botanical-themed cocktail bar is a boon for thirsty (and peckish) Yarraville locals

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Time Out says

Yarraville is a charming suburb that feels far more quaint and idyllic than its five stops from the city by train might suggest. Perhaps that's why it was named one of the coolest neighbourhoods in the world in 2020! And its dining offering is a reflection of the community – wholesome, familiar, and relaxed yet refined.

While there are a few chains, owner-operated venues like Ms Botanica, the brainchild of friends Stacie Sinclair and Scott Rice, are what make the local hospitality scene so special. The menu was developed by prolific chef James Cornwall, and now Chris Krugal is looking after the offering, which was designed to suit the gin-led cocktail program.

Though there are a few larger dishes on the menu, including a $45 wagyu special on Wednesdays and Thursdays, his offering is heavy on the snacks. They're very approachable at around $6 a pop. We start with the olive, pickled mussel and tuna gilda, a safe and delicious choice that is fairly similar to the one formerly offered at Gimlet. Ms Botanica’s is far more generous for the same price, but the quality of ingredients is a notch lower than the McConnell rendition. 

The rest of our snacks are a series of smash hits and near misses. 

Free-range pork slider? Hit. The mini brioche bun and creamy slaw combo might bring to mind function canapes, but the tender, crisp, not-too-fatty slab of pork belly and dash of blood plum proves that looks can be deceiving. It's fantastic.

Steak tartare? Not quite there yet. The marinade on the meat is veering on too sweet for our taste but does find balance, while the brittle potato rosti it’s served on seems it’s been left in the fryer just a touch too long. 

In any case, Ms Botanica is a place that spotlights its cocktails. Take Me to the Bahamas (spiced rum, pineapple juice, lemon, orgeat, bitters) takes a while to hit the table because, from what we can overhear behind the scenes, an ingredient has run out. It happens, but the beginning of service on a busy night is not the best timing. But the drink itself goes down nice and easy.

The Peachy Keen, Jelly Bean, on the other hand, is stunning with a smooth layer of Wonderfoam delicately topped with a cluster of small white flowers. With peach puree, gin, and peach and butterscotch schnapps, it reads like a siren call for the freshly-legal but somehow bypasses lolly territory for something more sophisticated. And at $15 (a Thursday night special), feels like a steal. 

Sitting in the window, our engagement with the staff is kept to a minimum – but not in a way that feels unfriendly. They're warm, and like good neighbours, ready to help if and when needed. It should be noted that when faced with particulars about the menu, their enthusiasm outweighs their expertise, but that's something that could easily be rectified for a two-year-old bar like this missus.

She may not be the most polished cocktail bar in town but sometimes good, unpretentious and served with a smile beats great yet haughty. If that’s your priority, you’d be lucky to call this lush, plant-filled space your local.

Time Out Melbourne never writes starred reviews from hosted experiences – Time Out covers restaurant and bar bills for reviews so that readers can trust our critique.

After more of a vino focus? Check out Melbourne's top wine bars. 

Details

Address
34 Ballarat St
Yarraville
Melbourne
3013
Opening hours:
Wed-Fri 5pm-11pm, Sat 3pm-11pm
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