Adam Lowe visits The Botanist in Newcastle and is wowed by spectacular service and delicious food.
Designed with a distressed, garden-inspired aesthetic, The Botanist is a little slice of culinary paradise in Newcastle. With a vast treehouse in the centre of its bar area, with weathered pastel cabinets and plenty of floral touches, it’s a treat for the eye as well as the belly.
The service in the restaurant was fantastic. From the moment we arrived to the moment we left, we were greeted, served promptly, and looked after. There was a real sense of professionalism from the staff, who exuded the kind of confidence that makes you sure everything will go smoothly. I trusted their advice on which dishes to order and it was actually a pleasure to chat to this personable bunch (none of the awkward small-talk you have to indulge in other restaurants here).
We kicked off with one of the restaurant’s ‘Botanical Brews’: the Pacific Brunette. This handsome blend of cinnamon, rosemary, lime and apple juice, gin and vanilla liqueur topped with Pacific Pale Ale was a satisfying post-work tipple.
We also tried the local entry on The New World Gin List: the Newcastle-distilled Poetic Licence. Served with a grapefruit wedge and a mint sprig, and paired best with Britvic, this was a really nice gin – but you can also try Chester, Birmingham, Leeds and Marlow gins, among others.
We started our meal with delicious calamari, which was spicy without being overpowering, and was cooked to perfection–just the right amount of give. The tartare sauce had hints of citrus and sweetness, and was thick but not too creamy. The rocket with lemon dressing was a nice touch on the side, and the whole dish was served well with lime instead of lemon, which brought out more of the flavour.
Next up, I tried the gambas pil pil (also a started). Succulent prawns, root-shaped fingers of the most divine freshly baked bread and a nicely viscous sauce (thickened with onions, peppers, spring onions and chilli) with paprika made for a gorgeous take on this classic Spanish dish!
When it came to mains, my dining companion opted for a wonderful pulled pork burger which retained its shape, unlike some of the high street burger joints that charge £20 for a less satisfying sandwich. It wasn’t too sticky but was nicely balanced and meaty. It possibly could have been a tad smokier, as a matter of personal preference, but it was very, very satisfying regardless. The chips, meanwhile, were firm, well seasoned and moreish. A great dish with lettuce, gherkin and tomato to round it out.
The epic superfood salad I had was a burst of flavours and a riot of textures. It was a fine blend of avocado, soy beans, cherry tomatoes and Persian couscous. Served here with chicken, it was juicy and crunchy, with a hint of anise. A salad it may be, but it was certainly filling!
For dessert, the tantalisingly named rocky road kebab was playful and joyful both. Strawberries, hazelnut brownie, marshmallow, apple, chocolate crumb mixed with popping candy and a biscotti sauce with ice cream – it was just so much fun and great food too!
I tried the vanilla rice pudding with Amarena cherries and cinder toffee. This was also a delicious dessert, but for different reasons. Sweet, creamy and popping with tart cherry goodness, it was a lovely end to the dinner and a playful take on a much beloved dessert.
The Botanist Newcastle, then, is the perfect melding of exciting dishes, traditional faves with a unique twist, and stunning service. Great for friends with taste, or when you want to take your date somewhere stylish without breaking the bank, we recommend it as a lively, satisfying experience.
For more information or to book a table, visit thebotanist.uk.com/locations/newcastle.