Last Thursday I met up with Jane for one of our catch up dinners. The Botanist was suggested as they do an early evening deal of two courses for £11.95 before 7. There is a set menu for this, the mains are a bit uninspiring, lots involving bread with meat sandwiched in between but having said that if you take a trip to The Burger Joint they make it into an art form of deliciousness. The Botanist is rather nicely decorated inside the dining areas have a slightly French rustic feel to them which is an improvement on when it was Bar Ha Ha.
|mini dining area to the side of the bar|
I decided to choose for my starter the chicken wings with plum sauce and sesame seeds and the rib-eye steak sandwich with frites for my main. Jane meanwhile picked the asparagus with poached egg, parmesan and herbs and a chicken Caesar salad to follow. We didn't have to wait too long for our food to arrive which I never know whether to be worried or pleased about, depends on how hungry I am I guess. What was brought to my table was not exactly what I was expecting. There was no mention of huge chunks of watermelon and no sesame seeds to be found.
|chicken wings with 'plum' sauce|
|asparagus with poached egg and parmesan|
Sadly for me the disappointments continued, the chicken wings were extremely small and very dry. The plum sauce didn't taste that plummy and was really too sweet for the chicken wings, what the watermelon was doing on the plate I still have no idea as it added very little. Not being a huge fan of watermelon I ate what I could and prayed the main course would be much tastier. Jane had a bit more luck with her starter though it was woefully under seasoned and the sauce, I assumed was hollandaise tasted of nothing as well, however the asparagus was nicely cooked.
Not a great start but actually the mains were a big improvement, the steak sandwich was a lot smaller than I was expecting and there were too many onions for my personal taste but the meat was perfectly cooked and really flavoursome. Points also go to the frites which were suitably salted and crunchy a la Belgian style. Jane's salad had a nice lot of chicken although curiously the croutons were all soft, basically warm bread with oil drizzled on them, which was slightly unexpected.
So all in all a bit of a curate's egg of a meal. I am not that fussed about returning to be honest. It is interesting to see how much more their main menu costs and I wonder if the quality changes once you upgrade. I was disappointed really as had heard good things about this place from a few people but I think they just need to try a bit harder. I know the menu only cost us £11.95 each so it is easy not to nitpick at that price, however maybe sticking to a more simplified set menu, especially for the starters, would reap better tasting rewards. To see what The Botanist has to offer check out their website.