We’ve all walked past it in the pouring rain. We’ve seen those poor, desperate people braving the elements as they cling fastidiously to their cocktails. And we’ve all wondered what on earth it is about that place that makes just about everyone want to go there as soon as the weekend rears its shining head. So, in true sheep fashion, I went to The Botanist.
Based in Sloane Square, spitting distance from the tube station, The Botanist has a location that most restaurateurs would die for. Situated next door to Guy Pelly’s latest venture, Tonteria, although good luck getting in there since they won’t take bookings, The Botanist has the rich and famous as its continuous passing trade. And, more importantly, it would take the average person about a week or so to read the cocktail list.
Forcing my way passed the intently focussed cocktail drinkers, I made it to the restaurant. A haven of peace compared with the mania of the bar. On the waiter’s recommendation we ordered whitebait for starters. There was no way I was not going to take this recommendation. The waiter not only had the sparkliest eyes I’d ever seen, he was also the friendliest waiter in the whole entire world. Clearly loving every minute of his job, he found nothing too much trouble. The service is one of the highlights of this beautiful restaurant. We then ordered steak and fishcakes. Nothing hugely exciting but then this is one of the charms about this surprisingly unpretentious place. I also had no idea just how good béarnaise sauce could be until this one.
The pudding menu is sadly underwhelming and the bill the opposite. Unsurprising given the location, and it’s certainly worth it,…but still a bit of a shock.
If you’re in the mood for wrestling through the crowds, then The Botanist bar is definitely for you. Having tried a huge number of cocktails off their extensive list, I’m yet to be disappointed. The food is classic and wholesome. If that’s what you’re after, you could do a lot worse.