Don’t let the swarms of Sloanes outside deter you from visiting the Botanist. This stylish modern eatery at the posh end of the King’s Road is a hang out for London’s bright young things, having their lunch meetings or after work drinkies – if you are brave enough to squeeze through the cliques the food is well worth it.
It was the perfect place to meet and eat before a trip to the Royal Court Theatre. With a serious time limit, we got straight down to business choosing from the extensive cocktail list and menu of classic British dishes. Fresh bread and butter arrived to whet our appetites and attractive colourful fruity cocktails to quench our thirst.
I felt loud and brassy sitting among the smart diners but the waiter didn’t judge and ensured we were comfortable and had everything we needed throughout our visit. My friend and I had a lot to catch up on so the meal could easily have passed in a blur of chatter but certain culinary aspects really stood out, distracting us from the girly gossip to reflect on how good the food was.
The muggy weather definitely affected our menu choices, as a great deal of what was on offer just seemed potentially too rich, hot or heavy. I chose the small tomato and onion salad which was absolutely delicious; very refreshing, a rainbow mix of green, yellow and red tomato segments and slices, dressed lightly with balsamic and olive oil with the thinnest swirls of red onion. The Norfolk asparagus with poached egg and hollandaise looked lovely, and was offered hot or cold. Rather a big portion for a starter but cooked to perfection and beautifully presented, my companion was definitely impressed.
For mains I opted for Coq au Vin, a classic French recipe which the Botanist seems to have mastered. The sauce was wonderfully light and the chicken fell off the bone super-tender with salty crisp skin. Soft vegetables seasoned and soaked in the jus sweetened the dish, I loved the tiny onions and delicate mushrooms. My friend, on a healthy streak, ordered the Botanist seasonal salad which I must admit I was tempted by too. An intriguing mix of summer ingredients: purple broccoli, peas, broad beans, radish, goat’s curd and candied walnuts. It was a charming selection of complementary flavours: the broccoli and creamy goat’s curd working particularly well together. The immensely tasty French fries were the ideal accompaniment for soaking up my sauce and providing a naughty side snack.
We barely had time for coffee and desserts but I couldn’t resist trying a mouthful of the tempting treats on offer. The idea of a rhubarb soufflé appealed initially, but sadly we didn’t have the time to spare for its preparation so instead we tried the Crème Brulee with millionaire’s shortbread and Baked chocolate and orange mousse with crème fraiche sorbet. Both these puddings would perhaps be better suited to a winter menu. The crème brulee was delicious and just as it should be with an oozing centre and caramelised top, I loved the real vanilla pods to give the dessert an intense flavour. The millionaire’s shortbread was insanely rich and almost a whole dessert in its own right, the brulee would have been perfect alone, perhaps with a few ornamental raspberries! The mousse was very dense, a cake version of a Terry’s chocolate orange. We especially enjoyed the crème fraiche sorbet which had a unique flavour and was perfect with the opulent chocolatey-ness.
I have often visited the Botanist for a drink but now I will be returning to try more from their enticing menu. Best of all the restaurant is conveniently close to my favourite theatre… perhaps I should start combining trips.
Visit the Botanist website here for more information.