What makes you choose where to eat out? It might be a new place that you heard about on the radio, or perhaps there was a launch party that you couldn’t get around to. For me, it has a little to do with the branding, background and if I get “the feels” for it.
Enter The Botanist West Bridgford, which launched in Nottingham last month. I have visited The Botanist in Didsbury, and I’m a fan of the NWTC, so it made sense for me to check out the newest kid on the Nottingham block.
I love the branding. From the swirls of the logo (enough to make any graphic artist puff their chest out in sheer pride) to the colour scheme of muted pistachio emblazoned with chocolate with a hint of anthracite lettering, The Botanist knows how to present itself.
It was a ‘cooler than Siberia’ Sunday, meaning home-cooked food big on the comfort factor was my go-to.
We sped up the wooden steps faster than Usain Bolt (did I mention it was cold?). Cold weather affects my sensibilities. I hate it. (I once had a good natured employer write in my reference “creative, hard-worker, needs the heater on as gets cold quickly” – a story for another day.) Going back to the inclement weather that strikes a chill in my heart – add that chilly wind to my burgeoning hunger pangs, and it put me in a slightly grouchy mood. Owing to my hunger (I would have started eating my gloves if they were edible) I was going to choose food sharpish and quell my usual inner master procrastinator.
The warm environ is reminiscent of a chalet, and true to The Botanist’s branding, there is an abundance of flora (more of fauna on the menu). The suspended shrubbery on chandeliers is a nice touch, which makes you realise just how giant-tall the building is. Friendly smiles abound, and we were soon perusing the menu with the dexterity of a third-year student studying their final exams (did I mention how Hulk-smash hangry I was getting?).
It’s a very good menu. I’m never sure about appetisers’ place in addition to starters on a menu – aren’t they starters but a smaller form? As I was in a go-big-or-go-home mood, we decided to share a portion of the salt and pepper onion petals from the ‘Nibbles’ section. Now, I like to think of myself as fairly imaginative, but what in the world are onion petals? Are they origami-inspired and cut out from a larger Spanish onion variety? Are they flower petals sprinkled with the scent of onion powder? Onions that were blooming (perhaps soaked in water, allowing for expansion and eventual flowering?), sprinkled with salt and pepper were delicious.
Simplicity can be beautiful. These were basically salt and peppered onions, but when swiped through the crème fraîche, took on a deliciously magical quality. The base of the onion was wonderfully al dente, the tips were gooey in all their squidgy glory, and alongside the glorious tang of the crème fraîche, rendered this one of my favourite nibbley-starter things of all time.
I adore seafood, which is why getting the crispy calamari (Piri Piri, salt, lemon and lime mayonnaise) made a world of sense.
A barely-there casing, coming away from tender squid was very good. I especially liked the seasoned batter, which had a nice kick to it.
Dining partner had the Gambas Pil Pil (chilli, olive oil), which were another winner. Fat prawns enrobed in a tomatoey sauce spiked with garlic and paprika were moreish and lovely to look at. The warmed bread was a nice touch, which acted as a dense sponge to soak up all those lovely juices.
The Botanist boasts a comprehensive cocktail menu, and should draw in cocktail lovers from across the Midlands. My choice of Botanist Pornstar was smooth and highly moreish, whilst dining partner’s Botanical Brew hit the spot to quench thirst efficiently and in a highly tasty manner.
For my main, I had the famous hanging kebab (garlic butter, properly seasoned chips). I love theatre, and the presentation of the kebab with a flourish, with the garlic butter being poured onto the meat was excellent to watch. It was a proper food-porn moment.
Dining partner had the outdoor reared slow roast pork belly (fresh Bramley apple sauce), which he said was very good. The fist-sized Yorkshire pudding was the star of the show, although the pork could have been rendered for another 20 minutes or so. (This isn’t a slight, just a personal opinion).
Remember my need for hearty, comfort-inducing food in the cooler months? It was this that made me choose the baked chocolate chip cookie dough for dessert.
Arriving in a skillet, the dough was warm, spongy and with a glorious chew. I loved it, and thought the ice-cream balanced atop the pudding to be a beautiful crowning glory.
The Botanist West Bridgford is a fun, warm, hip place to be. GM David Dernley is a gent and an informative one at that; he fielded my questions about the music and coffee with the deftness of a Newsnight presenter (a compliment).
If you go, please try the onion petals. I defy you to try them and not fall in love with them. Hat-tip to the chefs, Front of House Anna and team at The Botanist West Bridgford, you must be proud for creating a wonderful space that serves scrumptious food.
Rating: (1: Hate: I’d rather eat my shoe – 10: Love: I’d sell my kidney for a meal here)
Value for money: 9
Restaurant name: The Botanist West Bridgford
Open since: October 2017
Address: 40 Bridgford Rd, West Bridgford, Nottingham NG2 6AP
Opening times: Mon-Thurs 12pm-12am / Fri 12pm-2am / Sat 10am-2am / Sun 12pm-11pm
How to make reservation: Online & telephone
Call: 0115 704 3700
Head Chef: Leandro
General Manager: David Dernley
Front of House: Anna
Whilst in the area: Check out the lovely avenue of shops on West Bridgford.