What’s the difference between a pub and a bar? I’m not sure, but The Botanist, just off Berkley Square, describes itself as a pub. I reckon it has a much more gastro-pub / bar feel to it (this isn’t a criticism, it’s a nice venue with high ceilings in the bar and stylish bar stools surrounding it). Pubs to me are boozers, places with gardens and benches, perhaps a dog and maybe they serve pies. Mmm. Pies.
Anyway, on to the write-up! We went for a Saturday night dinner as a group, which is where my only criticism comes in (we’re nice here at Cooks & Eats, and don’t like to write mean things). We’d booked for 5 of us but we wedged on to a table for 4, so we were a little cramped, we mentioned this to the waiter but he just sort of laughed it off which was strange. That’s the only little gripe out the way!
It’s got a very Whiteladies Road / Clifton / Park Street feel to it, people were dressed fairly smartly but it’s still informal. For us south Bristol types, it’s probably a little bit stylish, but nice to feel a little fancy!
Their drinks menu is extensive, with a wide range of interesting wines, spirits and cocktails. The wines are divided into themes (as in, “fruity”, “sophisticated” etc.) which makes it really easy to find something that’s right up your winey street. I had a really refreshing, light rosé, I recommend the Paradis. I’m not usually a rosé drinker, but this was excellent (and nothing like what you might think, Blossom Hill this is not).
The food menu is extensive too; they also do Sunday lunches, a lunch menu and a mid-week deal (I’m going back for that). Amongst our starters, highlights included the deep-fried Somerset brie in panko breadcrumbs with an apricot & cumin chutney (a starter, I had massive food envy about this) and the salt & Szechuan pepper squid with aioli.
Mains were as follows:
- Slow-cooked pork belly with seared scallops – a huge portion served with lots of mash and green beans
- Pan-fried sea bass – this was served with some lovely fresh veggies and salad, sauteed potatoes and pesto – I’d just had a boozy few days and this perked me right up
- Wagyu burger
- Buttermilk southern fried chicken, served with ‘ndjua sausage and sweet potato fries
We had desserts too; they do a “coffee and a mini dessert” which my Mum had and loved – lemon tart, a cappuccino and she added a side of sambuca. *shudder*. It was a nice end to the evening and good value too, with a coffee and a little desert for £4.95. Overall the prices are what you’d expect from a central city bar & restaurant, mains are anything between £11 – £18.
All the food was really good, and presented to a very high standard. I’ll be honest though and said I think having “The Botanist” on every plate is a bit weird, but good for their Instagram presence I guess. I’d go back to try the mid-week deal, on the rare occasion that we venture north of the river!