The Botanist - Reading

Thursday, 29 June 2017
I was recently invited to the opening of a new restaurant in Reading and I've got to say, it was one that I was really keen to go to.  I've heard good things about The Botanist in other locations and it sounded perfect - cocktails, a bit of pizzazz and interesting decor.

The launch night was packed.  We were lucky to grab a table in a corner and settle in with a glass of prosecco or two (or three...?).

The venue is interesting.  A cross between a modern art gallery and an upmarket garden shed, it's cosy in places and expansive in others.  The lighting is a thing of beauty - with so many lights making up one big feature.  It's stunning.

Most staff were really well trained, if a bit rushed off their feet.  Most could talk confidently about the cocktails and food they liked.  I was slightly frustrated when one waitress didn't know whether the canapes they were offering were vegetarian.  For the most part they weren't - although she was sure that one was.  Sadly it turned out to be fish.  Thank heavens for friends who will check for me!  There was clearly attention to detail though - the food looked very good on the boards.

A minor problem in an otherwise lovely evening.  We really enjoyed the cocktail that we got to try - The Botanist.  It was so beautiful... and tasty.  I wasn't expecting to like a drink with elderflower in.

They weren't serving a full menu for the evening so we headed off for some well-timed pasta but I didn't feel I'd really given the place enough of a go to share with you readers.

Last week, I took another trip with a different group of friends.  We pre-booked a table for four but turned up with six.  Thankfully, they felt the table would be big enough for us - they were extremely accommodating.

I opted to start with a cocktail and then move on to fruit beer.

Here's my cocktail, the raspberry amaretto sour.  It arrived with dry ice gently bubbling out of the top.  There is something a bit crazy about having your cocktail from a flowerpot - although I'm not sure if it is stranger or less strange than the pitchers that come from watering cans.

I wasn't quite sure what to do with it - I couldn't work out what to do with the test tube.  It turned out the alcohol was in there - meaning that I drank the mixer (I think) and then had the alcohol after.  Perhaps.  The bit in the flowerpot was extremely nice, the bit in the test tube was strong....

Then it was time for food.  I went for the falafel and halloumi hanging kebab.  This was amazing.  It was great to see a good variety of vegetables, a decent falafel and one of the best cheeses in the world.  There was a bit of theatre to it too - with the oil drizzled through the top of the kebab on arrival at the table.  I swapped out my cauliflower couscous for chips - because I'm a sucker for a good seasoned fry.  These didn't disappoint.

Then it was time for the fruit beers.  The selection of ales, lagers, ciders and beers is pretty impressive, with a little booklet full of detailed information about each.  I opted for an old fave (kriek) and a new experience, the Clwb Tropicana, with 'peach, pineapple and mango flavours'.  An interesting beer to have tried but not a new favourite.  

We had a great time - we were well looked after.  Our waitress was the one who was effusive about the place on opening and she had just the same high level of service.  The place was noisy - it was a Friday night and conversation had to be loud but the music was pretty good - including a bit of Bon Jovi (did you know he's now a humanitarian and that he has been spoken highly of by Obama? Well, I didn't!).  

I've already booked another visit next week - this time I might have a go at their vegetable curry.... and probably another cocktail.

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