A botanist is a scientist specialising in the field of study that is plants, but it is comfort eating that Living Venture’s very own The Botanist in Alderley Edge has nailed down. This week, before the quaint suburban branch of the restaurant & bar is overshadowed by it’s central Mancunian sister, we ventured out to give you a taster of what you can expect.
The first thing that has to be said is that our experience was greatly improved by the beautiful weather that joined us; the windows were thrown open and the Botanist diners had spilled out onto the sunny pavement; cold drinks in hands. Though we chose to sit inside (due to a fear of eating in the presence of wasps) we were nevertheless greeted by a different kind of sunshine in the form of the staff at The Botanist.
To kick start our evening, we gratefully accepted the ice cold glasses of two of the many cocktails that have come to make The Botanist such a popular attraction. The extremely fresh Pear and Sorrel Collins and the ‘Un-Put-Down-Able’ Raspberry Amaretto Sour told us straight away that this is a place that has the palate of the people impeccably catered for, though strictly in the absence of any cliche: tell us, when is the last time you consumed sorrel in a cocktail?
Our starters came swiftly on quaint little monochrome plates that wouldn’t be out of place in your king gardener granddad’s kitchen. I regretted the choice of tomato and basil soup only for the fact that it made the hot hot day even more unbearable. This flaw was of course entirely my own and the soup itself was immediately telling of The Botanist’s ethos in the approach to food: if it isn’t filling and/or comforting, it isn’t welcome.
The soup was extremely thick and creamy, evoking the grandmother who considers healthy eating at her house an abomination. The accompanying bread meanwhile would undoubtedly pass the test of Paul Hollywood’s appraising eyes; this is the kind of bread that you dip into your soup, regardless of restaurant etiquette.
My partner enjoyed smoked haddock fishcake with tartare sauce and finished it off with gusto.
More cocktails came in the form of the Peach Melba Bellini and The Botanist itself, garnished with red amaranth which can be smelled at each sip, filling the nose and the head with Withering Heights type images of the moors and countryside.
Our mains were in a word, enormous. I don’t know if it is possible to complain about the sheer amount of chips that one is given, but I was shocked by the mountain that I was served alongside my steak, cheese and onion sandwich. The latter was of exquisitely wonderful ratio between tender meat and strong cheese, served on that nostalgic hunk of bread enjoyed in the starter, but the star of the show was almost lost in the sea of chips that came with it. My partner’s choice was far more aesthetically pleasing what with his order of a hanging kebab. This is a dish (or hook.) that cannot be passed up on, least because of the fact that it is clearly trade marked on the menu. The kebab is juicy and interspersed with wonderful vegetables (not that I tried more than my fair share.) and showered with a ginger, sweet chilli and garlic butter sauce that ingeniously uses gravity to sop the hanging meat in.
So taken were we by these hanging kebabs that dessert consisted of a sweet version: wonderfully softened marshmallows and strawberries laced with chocolate sauce (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) and punctuated by a bowl of ice cream. Though I could hardly finish it (we also enjoyed an obligatory slice of hot chocolate fudge cake), it’s goal was easily realised: I was full to the very point of bursting in the way that only really excellent comfort food can.
The Botanist is a place for the nostalgics and the romantics. It’s open, airy and rustic. It’s impossible to order something without feeling the warm and fuzzies that can only be associated with home-time tea-time. And maybe they do serve too many chips, but we’ll bet your grandma did too. And her food was always exceptional.
Under the New World Trading Company brand, The Botanist concept is nostalgic of The Oast House meets The Alchemist with its wonderful mix of rustic faded glamour and the sweet science of mixology. It has to be the best menu in Cheshire, surely. We can’t wait for the Deansgate seed to blossom (August 4).
15 London Road, Alderley Edge, Cheshire SK9 7JT
01625 865 637