A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sampling the newly launched menu at The Botanist, West Bridgeford. Before we begin, I must confess that reviewing restaurants is not my usual thing, I'd much rather rabbit on about the benefits of rabbit food, but it seemed like a wise idea to make an exception.
So if you aren't going to read anymore, let me sum it up: The Botanist is the kind of place where you can go with friends, family or colleagues. Cool, just on the right side of edgy and with a menu extensive enough that everyone will find something to tickle their taste buds.
Upon arrival, we were entrusted with a comprehensive menu of alcoholic beverages. Not knowing where to start, our ever helpful waitress, Becky, recommended the 'Pots & Planters' section for cocktails with a wow factor. The raspberry Disaronno sour was an especially triumphant concoction with dry ice delivering show-worthy amounts of smoke and a flavour akin to sour raspberry sweets.
For the purposes of this review, I was not going to be an easy customer. Although I'm not vegan, I recognise that our plant-based friends are often shunned when it comes to dining out so with that in mind, I based my selection on vegan meals.
My companion was not so easily convinced so he opted for meat-based options for the sake of balance.
The chosen vegan starter was a tempura-fried cauliflower, tenderstem broccoli and kale manchurian with sweet and sour sesame dipping sauce. It was substantial, crispy and the perfect finger-food to get the dining experience started.
The guy opted for crispy calamari which was equally tantalising with plenty of flavour from the fajita salt and accompanying guacamole.
The mains followed in quick succession: for me a harissa aubergine steak with Israeli couscous, grilled baby gem and tahini and for the guy a flat iron steak sandwich.
For the sake of total transparency, the harissa aubergine steak was delicious but the Israeli couscous could've done with a little (okay a lot) more flavour. The idea was great, I mean how many restaurants consider a totally different vegan main as opposed to putting some vegetables on a plate like an afterthought, but the execution does need improvement. Luckily there are plenty of other vegan options and the meat-based main of flat iron steak sandwich was a total taste sensation.
It's true that the best is often saved for last and for The Botanist's menu this was no different because the desserts were a thing of beauty. Sadly my original vegan choice of homemade banana doughnuts was not available so I found myself veering off course with a vegetarian peanut and chocolate brownie cake accompanied by salted caramel and vanilla ice cream. The guy opted for baked chocolate chip cookie dough with toffee sauce and salted caramel ice cream.
The desserts were good. Very good. Ok, maybe excellent. It would probably be worth visiting just for the desserts.
The positives are:
- the vibe is cool
- the waiters and waitresses are very knowledgeable (Becky, our waitress was full of energy and made some great recommendations, which at the risk of sounding old, I recognise is a rarity these days)
- the music is awesome and the venue has been transformed with interesting botanical decor
- irrespective of your dietary requirements you will find something on the menu that ticks all the right boxes
- the cocktail list is extensive and some have a real wow factor
I admit I was picky but the vegan main I chose could do with improvement. Other than that it's a thumbs up.
For menus or to book a table, visit http://thebotanist.uk.com/