This week sees the opening of a new bar and restaurant in Birmingham City Centre, and it’s like nothing the city has seen so far. I was invited down to the media preview lunch last week to try the food and drinks on offer, and I came away certain that The Botanist was going to be a great addition to the City. As someone attempting to visit all the great bars and restaurants that Birmingham has to offer, I very rarely choose to go to the same place twice on the trot – The Botanist may have just persuaded me though, as I can’t wait to go back.
Firstly, I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for great interior design, and this is where The Botanist gets a firm 10/10. Attention to detail has been taken in every last nook and cranny, as well as some show stopping feature pieces such as the lighting and the ornate metal-work. The main dining area is large but has been divided off into smaller sections to create a more intimate, but still buzzing experience. The staff were impeccable throughout the afternoon, which is not often the case when a place has just opened. Granted, for a preview lunch everyone was bound to be on their best behavior, but no mistakes were made and there was no sense of stress or pressure behind the scenes.
The folks at The Botanist pride themselves first and foremost on their ‘soon to be world famous’ cocktails, and I have to admit, they were pretty darn good. As if Birmingham’s cocktail scene wasn’t competitive enough, The Botanist is now another place to go if you want a wide selection of top quality drinks. On top of craft beers and ales, the vast cocktails menu meant there was something to please everyone.
When I arrived I went for the Rose Sangria, a long drink of rose wine, elderfower liqueur, cointreau, grenadine and lemonade. This was a really refreshing cocktail and not too strong, so perfect for having alongside a meal. Next I opted for a Raspberry Amaretto Sour. I love anything with amaretto in and this was no exception – and although slightly misleading, I was glad to find out that it wasn’t actually that sour. The cocktail that really stole the show for me though was The Chocolate Rose, with vodka, rose liqueur, rose syrup, liquid chocolate and milk. I had this cocktail instead of desert and I was so glad I did. The presentation was beautiful and the drink itself tasted like liquid Turkish delight; had I ordered this one first I would have struggled to not have it as my next one too!
When our starters arrived, the most exciting thing was the presentation. From miniature wheelbarrows to wicker baskets, attention to detail had been taken with every dish. I had the baked camambert, which was beautiful and just the right size for a starter. The fruit served on the side did make it feel more like a cheese board for after a meal, but this didn’t stop me enjoying it beforehand.
For my main I went for the pan fried sea bass fillets, which were served on a bed of salsa-style salad and spinach. The fish was well cooked and there was a generous amount, but it was the salad that really set it off. If you’re having this as your only course, I’d recommend ordering a side as well, as altogether it may not fill you up. Other mains at The Botanist include ‘deli boards’, ‘off the barbeque’ and ‘from the rotisserie’. As I eat fish I had enough choice, but if you are a full vegetarian the menu is slightly limited.
Finally we were offered desert. I went for another cocktail as nothing on the menu took my fancy, but from those on my table who did have one, the general consensus was ‘very nice, but nothing special’. Though the rest of the courses felt like something a bit different, the deserts, such as the chocolate fudge cake and the strawberry and marshmallow kebab, were more like pub grub. We agreed that if you wanted to just go for drinks and a desert somewhere, you could do better than The Botanist.
Overall, The Botanist really did create a special drinking and dining experience, and I’d recommend it to anyone and everyone. Though part of a small chain, The Botanist manages to create the same sense of uniqueness that independents do. Though the food wasn’t out of this world, the presentation, cocktails, service and surroundings won me over good and solid. On Temple Street in the heart of the city centre, it couldn’t be better situated for a shopping break of after-work drinks. Thanks to The Botanist for inviting me down, and thanks to Alice who looked after us brilliantly throughout the afternoon – I will definitely be back!
*The food and drink at the preview lunch were all complimentary. This does not affect my honest opinion.