It’s often the case that you discount restaurants that have been there a while, under the impression that the menu stays the same, with nothing new or exciting. The Botanist constantly revamp their menu based on customer feedback and experience, so when I was invited to try out the new summer additions, I took my friend Rachael for a long overdue catch up, to see what they had to offer.
Cocktails and Gin
The drinks menu at the Botanist just keeps growing. The gin section has definitely got longer since the last time I was in there, the sharer cocktails looked similar to last summer, and there’s a few new additions on the main cocktail menu too. It took us a while to decide what to go for, that’s always the challenge in there, old favourites or to try something new? As we were there to scope out the new menu we went with drinks we had never tried before.
Rachael got the Liverpool gin and tonic, served with lemon and fever tree tonic (although to upgrade to Fever tree from the standard tonic is extra, quite expensive when the gin itself is about £9!) and I went for a Strawberry and Elderflower bellini (£7.95). They didn’t take long to arrive, which is ALWAYS the perk of booking a table there, so make sure you do, if not for the convenience for the view…
Technically, you could turn your three course meal into a four course affair if you split out the nibbles and the starters. There’s a good selection of eight nibbles to choose from, if you want something quickly, while deciding what else you’ll have, or if you’re just visiting for some drinks rather than a full meal. We went for the charred edamame beans with chilli, garlic and sesame oil flavouring, new to the menu.
Other new additions I spotted were the baked kale chips with apple cider vinegar and sea salt, salt and pepper onion petals with creme fraiche and activated charcoal flatbread with whipped garlic goats cheese. All your old favourites are still there, olives, sticky honey chipolatas and salt and pepper pork crackling, and prices range from £2.50 – £4.50. I can easily see people ordering a selection of these with drinks on the terrace outside this summer.
I am a huge fan of the Botanist cumberland scotch egg, it’s one of my favourites in Newcastle, so I was very relieved to see it still on the menu. Newcomers included courgette, kale and potato soup, and curried humous, and tempura-fried cauliflower. All three of these tick the vegan box, which isn’t my preference at all but I suppose it’s good that there’s more than one option available for those who are.
I however, am fully not vegan or vegetarian, and after hearing things about a new baked camembert on the menu, I’ll be honest it was what I was the most excited for from the whole menu. Baked in garlic and rosemary sourdough this is a sharing starter priced at £12.95, served with an apple and smoky apple ketchup. Words, and photos do not do this justice. If there’s one thing you try from this entire menu make it this. It was an absolute dream and I completely forgot that I had two more courses still to come and couldn’t control myself, we ate the lot.
The ‘Main’ event
The main menu is bigger than it ever was. There were pages of the menu dedicated to make your own deli boards, with options from meat and fish, cheese and hot pots for example that could be starter or main, salads if you want something lighter, a range of burgers and even steaks which I’d never noticed previously.
The signature hanging kebabs are still there, but they seem to change these regularly. Choose from lamb kofta, chicken, salt and pepper pork belly, halloumi and falafel, or the new tandoori cod and king prawn (£12.95). Rachael and I are both fans of fish and seafood, so decided to try this new one out.
I’ve got to say we weren’t as keen on it as other kebabs we’ve had in the past, and were a tad disappointed that there was only one prawn. It came with a choice of chips or vegetable, we opted for the chips and upgraded them to salt and pepper chips. They were pretty good.
Our other main was the new chicken, prawn and chorizo paella (£12.50), and this was delicious. I love paella, it just reminds me of sunny evenings in Spain or Mallorca, and it was packed full of meat and prawns so this one did get our vote as one we would have again.
If you aren’t a paella fan, try the steak sandwich, or pan fried seabass fillets, both sounded pretty good. There’s also the usual fish and chips, pies, and curry that have always been on The Botanist menu.
Leave room for… Desserts (plural)
I always overeat during starters and mains that as much as I have the intention for dessert I rarely have room for one, let alone sharing two but that’s what we did. It was a tough choice, with bitter chocolate and roast pineapple pot catching our eye, as well as the chocolate brownie cake. In the end we settled for the baked chocolate chip cookie dough (£5.95) with salted caramel ice cream, and the homemade banana doughnuts with salted caramel sauce (£5.75).
Both were completely sickly and fabulous, total indulgences that if you have even the slightest sweet tooth you will enjoy.
Overall we really enjoyed our feast at The Botanist, and both agreed that the starters and the deserts were the biggest highlights of the new menu. Other than the tandoori fish and prawn kebab, I would have everything else again without a doubt. We had a great night with a lovely view and excellent service.
I have to mention my strawberry and elderflower bellini again, because even in the rain that cocktail will make you feel like it’s summer. Regardless of if this vile never ending rubbish weather doesn’t clear up, get yourself along for lunch or dinner on the new mezzanine, which definitely has a summer feel to it – all that pink! – or hopefully in warmer days out on the rooftop terrace.
I’ll probably see you there – with a bellini in one hand, and face first in that camembert.
We received our drinks and meal complimentary, but as always all opinions are genuine.
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