Cosy, dimly lit and just a little bit sexy.
Kirribilli's The Botanist is a great spot for a romantic date or a night out with friends. On this fateful evening, I opted for the latter and settled down with a drink as I waited for my entourage to arrive. One of the notable features of this restaurant is definitely their cocktail creations, with many a concoction to ensnare the senses. Tonight I enjoyed a 'Passionate Geezer' (my cocktail, not my companions) and was delighted by the touches of vanilla and passionfruit, putting me in the perfect mood for the night's frivolities. As I surveyed the room, I noticed it was rather packed for 7pm on a Monday and was abuzz with conversation, obviously a popular spot for many. Needless to say, the food smelled amazing and I couldn't wait to get my hands on some!
As we all said our various hellos, we perused the menu with great anticipation and decided upon the following delights: calamari, short rib, sliders and tacos (not to mention the jugs of pimms and sangria with which to wash it all down). We were served by a polite and pleasant waitress named Titania, who knew how to make us feel at home, but was not quite as knowledgeable in her Shakespeare. Questioning her as to where Oberon had gotten to, she stared at me blankly, perhaps wondering if I had ordered an odd sounding dish. With a smile and an apologetic shake of my head, she scurried away (probably glad that I should not ask her any more indecipherable oddities).
Whether it was the happy buzz brought on by the sangria, or, more likely, that we were pleased with the quality of everything, we enjoyed the food immensely. A particular favourite being the short rib, which was simply to die for, and the crumbed calamari which was a new twist on an old favourite. On the not-so-fabulous side, the tacos left something to be desired, but only in contrast to many great establishments I frequent just for this dish (namely Barrio Chino or Contrabando who both excel in taco creation). On the whole, it was an excellent setting for our laugh-fuelled evening.
As I continue my outings across Sydney's eateries, I find that one of the marks of a great casual restaurant is that it compliments your evening with no muss or fuss, which is exactly what The Botanist achieved. Everything ran smoothly and at no point did we find ourselves wondering where our food had gotten to or attempting to catch a waitress’s eye to no avail. In addition, the key to this simplistic pairing of evening and ambience is that the place need also be memorable, with its own signature style. This is one thing that The Botanist has in spades. Quite unlike any other small restaurant I have come across, this quasi-basement hangout foregrounds its namesake with plenty of plant paraphernalia and inspired dishes to set the scene. With everything prompting a 'sharing is caring' attitude, make The Botanist your next group catch-up spot north of the bridge.