Situated on the corner of Willoughby and Broughton Streets, close to Milsons Point train station is the eclectic and subterranean bar and restaurant, The Botanist. Easy to miss, away from the main commercial heart of Kirribilli and the harbour, The Botanist certainly has plenty of character and charm.
As I edge my way down the narrow and darkened staircase, I feel as if I am an explorer entering a private and hidden enchanted garden. A waiter pops up in front of us and welcomes us in and as I look around I am greeted by an array of hanging green plants, ferns and pot plants dotted across the bar. The enchanted garden theme continues as we are led deeper into the restaurant towards the back with the back wall displaying a jungle green wallpaper which is pasted right across it with even more green plants hanging from the ceiling.
We had booked a table in advance due to there being 12 of us and we had a large high wooden table in the centre of the room, with high stools. The Botanist was already bustling with a hive of activity, with other parties sat at smaller high wooden tables, whilst couples were seated around the edge of the restaurant on comfy chairs with plump pillows, engaged in their own conversations.
It’s a good idea to come here when hungry as The Botanist has a substantial menu to choose from. From sliders, pizza and tacos, to hearty salads, small plates and share plates, you could be forgiven for your time spent deciding what to eat. And that’s before your eyes are drawn to the chalkboard specials board which is full of even more tantalising dishes to try out! I would definitely recommend sharing some dishes with your party, as this is what The Botanist is all about.
Fortunately for me on this occasion, we ordered The Botanist Lunch for $32 per person as we were in a group. $32 did seem a little on the pricey side, but the amount of food that was brought out certainly filled our bellies to the brim.
To begin, we had a selection of green and brown olives presented to us, complete with spit bowl, which made disposing of your pips far easier! Following this, was one of my highlights of the meal, Prawn Crackers with Guacamole. I’m not usually a fan of guacamole, but this guacamole was a vibrant green colour and so creamy and fresh with a good hint of chilli running through, it made me go back for me. The prawn crackers were the perfect accompaniment, although slightly more unusual. Their curved texture made the perfect scoop to shovel up a good dollop of guacamole straight into my mouth.
Next up was the grilled haloumi, with eggplant, chickpeas and Romesco. The haloumi had that satisfying crunch and squeak when you bite into it, whilst the Romesco sauce balanced the saltiness of the cheese. Definitely a dish I want to try to recreate at home.
Following this was the cute little beef slider, with gherkins, pickled onion, cheddar and mustard mayo. This was the perfect slider in my opinion, due to the cheese, gherkin and pickles – my favourite! These were presented to us on a rustic wooden long board, with one slider each. As far as sliders go, these were probably one of the better sliders that I have had. The beef pattie was cooked perfectly and was succulent, whilst the gherkins and pickled onions added a welcome crunch and acidic touch, whilst the cheese and bun balanced the flavours. Let’s just say that my mini beef slider didn’t last long and quickly vanished into my stomach!
Another favourite was the lamb tagine, with cracked wheat, preserved lemon & yoghurt. The lamb literally melted in my mouth, and the yoghurt and lemon provided some creaminess and zing. The pieces of pomegranate also added a punch of vibrant red colour and some crunchiness to the plate. This dish was just what I needed on this cold wintery day. It was simply warm, filling and extremely moreish.
Unfortunately, there was one dish that none of my party was very keen on and that was the kale, beetroot, lentil, feta & candied pecans salad. There was a mountain of this salad served in the bowl, and was quite bland with way too much kale. However, the beetroot did add a welcome burst of sweetness.
By the time we had finished eating, The Botanist was pretty packed with hungry Sunday lunchtime diners and was pretty loud making conversation difficult. I would therefore advise getting here earlier if you want a seat and to make the most of the quieter setting.
The Botanist also serves an extensive drinks list, so whether you want a glass of wine, beer or a refreshing cocktail, there is plenty to choose from. Today, cocktails were a popular choice with the constant shaking of cocktails heard throughout the duration of our meal and they did look pretty good!
Our waiters were very friendly and attentive and kept our tables clear of empty plates and dishes, whilst kept our water glasses and jugs topped up.
Overall, I had a wonderful meal, with some highlight dishes in an enchanted garden like setting. I will definitely be coming back to The Botanist to try out those specials!