The Botanist has officially opened it’s doors to the public today in Didsbury Village, so we thought we better head over and check it out…
First of all I want to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the food, drinks and experience at The Botanist and came away extremely satisfied with everything. The food wasn’t the best food I’ve ever tasted – but I wasn’t expecting it to be – I wasn’t expecting Gordon Ramsey to be storming around calling people ‘shits’ and punching the first person who asked for ketchup. The Botanist isn’t that kind of place. Instead The Botanist is a place where you can relax in comfortable surroundings, listen to some live music, indulge in some great value food and perhaps partake in one of their frankly delicious cocktails.
The thing is, The Botanist is owned by Living Ventures – the owners of such brands as Oast House, The Alchemist, Gusto and Australasia – so they could be considered indeed to be Big Boys in the industry and the antithesis to the plucky independent venue. However, Living Ventures did start out in Manchester and over the years has provided the city with some genuinely great establishments, and continues to do so. The fact that they continue to create jobs and add something a bit different now and then in the city cannot truly be too bad of a thing and this is where The Botanist can come into its own.
One of the key components to a visit to the Botanist is an exploration of their extensive drinks and Cocktail menu. They have a huge selection of beers and ciders – including Ben Brown’s Belgian favourites, as well as world lagers, IPAs and Pale Ales. We found ourselves supping the brilliant Delirium Tremens (8.5%, £6.75) and the tremendous Kona Big Wave from Hawaii (4.4%, £4.75). In addition to this you can expect a massive cocktail menu jam packed with booze, juices and more flowers than Alan Titchmarsh’s underpants.
We consistently went back to The Botanist (Ketel One Vodka, Rum and elderflower liquer, £7.95), which was fantastic, as well as the unfortunately named Botanist Pornstar (£9.95) which was a dizzying concoction of passion fruit, strawberries, lemon and pineapple juices – mixed with vodka and passionfruit liquor. It’s topped off with a shot of pink prosecco which adds a much needed dryness to the already sweet concoction. I also tried one of their many specialist Gins; Liverpool Gin served with a watermelon wedge (£9.95).
When it came to the food, I was impressed. We began with a few ‘nibbles’, consisting of Pork Cracking (£3.75), Salt and Pepper Onion Petals (£3.75) and Cumberland and Pork Chipolatas (£3.75). The Crackling and the Salt & Pepper Onions were fantastic. In fact, I think I could eat the onions all day – every day and happily still enjoy myself. They were stunning. The only negative is the onion breath – but in my case – it’s probably an improvement.
Next up was the starters. I went for the Homemade Houmous Board (£4.95) and my mate Barry chose the Chicken Liver and Rum Pate, (£5.95) which on reflection was one of the tastiest things I’ve had the pleasure to put into my mouth. The rich, meaty pate was perfectly accompanied by a fantastic fig chutney.
The Botanist has a selection of dishes inspired by delis, rotisserie and BBQ so you can expect lots of meats, typically hanging on a kebab, smothered in some sort of butter or sauce. In this respect we were not disappointed. We went for two of their ‘World Famous Hanging Kebabs’ in the form of the Salt and Pepper Pork and the Lamb Kofta (£12.50 each) and it must be said that they were fantastic. Especially the Salt and Pepper Pork – the seasoning was perfect for the pork and when you added the sweet chilli and ginger sauce – it turns into something you just want to get into bed with and smother all over your face.
Additionally I tried their Steak Sandwich (£10.50); with a perfectly seared steak hoisted by fried onions, rocket, homemade beer mustard and horseradish crème fraîche. My mate Gal ordered the Pan Fried Seabass (£14.95) and it must have been good because he ate it in about 4 minutes and didn’t breathe the whole time.
Finally, desserts were served and I plucked for the Vanilla Rice Pudding (£5.50) which although it sounds like something you’d be forced to order due to rationing – was simply delicious. The table also shared a Sticky Toffee Pudding (£5.50), Cookie Dough (£5.50) and winner of them all; a White Chocolate and Peanut Butter Mousse (5.50) which I would happily marry and have children with.
Located in the old Milson Rhodes Wetherspoons pub, The Botanist is a truly welcome addition to the East Didsbury food and drink scene – one that has started to improve after a few years of growing stale. There are still some bog-standard chain places hanging around, but it’s nice to see that many people are starting to prefer the smaller, more exciting places such as Solita and although they may still be relative Big Boys in the industry – I’d much rather have The Botanist over a Wetherspoons any day!
The Botanist, 1D School Lane, Didsbury, Manchester, M20 6RD
0161 434 8645