A few weeks ago Jonny and I dashed away from our desks to sip a cocktail or 5 and grab a bite to eat at The Botanist in Reading. We were kindly invited to the press/ media evening where we could try what they have on offer, knowing how fun and quirky their other haunts are, I was really excited to pop in and sample what their newest branch had to offer. They are ‘chequing’ into their new home on 1-5 King Street, previously the Barclays bank in Reading, right in time for summer. It has a concept like no other, where it offers an award-winning selection of botanical inspired cocktails, craft beers and ales along with an extensive dining menu which we sampled ample from too.
We popped in 20 minutes before our table was ready as we knew we could perch at the bar and get a real feel for the place and its atmosphere before being seated. It was a warm welcome and while quite large and open plan the green house feel makes it warm and cosy. At the bar I ordered The Botanist, their signature cocktail with Ketel One Vodka, rum and elderflower liqueur. It is light and fresh and has a real mojito esque feel to it poured over lots of crushed ice. Jonny went with something a bit more punchy and sharp to start with the Grapefruit rum punch which is a combination of sweet apricot, pink grapefruit, vanilla syrup and pomegranate that comes together with Sailor Jerry Spiced rum and a hint of oregano.
We we’re nearing the end of our drink when we right on time were taken to our table, it too was cosy and intimate but as a blogger a little dark which means photos are not so easy! We pondered the menu and went with a selection of picky bits to share to start us off. Jonny went for some whitebait dusted with cayenne pepper and served with saffron mayo. They were nice but for me they are not a favourite anyway and I feel too salty, Jonny however lapped up not having to share. We also got some green olives to nibble on and our lovely waiter recommended we try the salt and pepper onion petals with crème fraiche, these were the winner by far for me bits of soft battered onion both crispy and delicious and very much like one of my all-time favourites when in the USA a blooming onion from Outback.
The table next to us had a flower pot cocktail, exactly what it should like a cocktail in a flower pot with some dry ice smoking away out the side. Que me needing to order on next but the real question was witch one? I went for a Raspberry Disaranno Sour, a mix of sharp and sweet and very much like a normal Disaronno sour but with a raspberry twit. It’s sour but very good and ultra-refreshing! A real palette refresher to take us onto our next course.
For our actual starters we went for polar opposites, I went for the Gambas Pil Pil. This is large prawns cooked in chilli, garlic and olive oil. Delicious but the accompaniment of warm bread is perfect to soak us the left over oil. Jonny went for the Homemade Scotch Egg with piccalilli, not what he would normally go for but he and I really enjoyed it. The yolk was still runny and the piccalilli was rather nice which for me was unexpected but a really lovely starter which was filling but not too much.
Moving onto ordering mains and another few drinks I this time went for a Pear and Vanilla Margarita. It was possibly a little too sweet for me but was still nice, for a small drink it was also quite strong but it would be a good after dinner drink. Jonny went for a really cool beer board called the Flight Board Betty served on a wooden board made for this beauty it consisted of a mini cocktail of rich yet refreshing lemon, mint and blackcurrant, paired with a chilled can of Beaver town’s dark IPA Black Betty made to be drank together and topped up along the way. He really loved the beer too alone and would order it as a stand-alone drink again.
We both prepped for a mammoth main of a hanging kebab each, delicious but uber filling. I opted for the lamb kofta with sweet potato fried and a side of beetroot and goats cheese salad. Jonny’s was actually the better of the two with the salt and pepper pork belly which had a lovely apple glaze and a side of chips and chilli tenderstem broccoli, I ate a good lot of that too!
We were fit to burst but our waiter quite easily persuaded us to get a pudding and myself and after dinner expresso martini to round off the evening. I really wanted to try the White Chocolate & Peanut butter Mousse as it was served on a little garden spade but the Baked Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough with a dollop of Vanilla Ice Cream was exactly the warm gooey sweet treat. Though it was a super warm day Jonny also opted for a rather winery option of sticky toffee pudding.
It is safe to say we did not go hungry or wait long for any course or drink while there. The service was on point for such a newly opened place. I did go to the VIP evening the week after which was a little too crowded but I did discover they also have a little outside terrace which would be nice to sit out with a cocktail in the summer. Overall it is a great new spot to add to some already great places to visit in the every growing and diverse Reading.
Have you been to The Botanist or are you planning to go?