Cardiff’s branch of The Botanist opened in February 2020, but that bit of bad timing didn’t seem to harm its eventual popularity. Equal parts restaurant and cocktail bar, there’s even a rooftop terrace where you can enjoy one of The Botanist’s ‘Fruit & Floral’ or ‘Fresh & Herbaceous’ cocktails while watching the sun go down over Cardiff, while inside the floral laden restaurant is just as breathtaking. There’s even a bandstand for live music.
If my family find something we like, we’ll pick it again – this is why I chose The Botanist for my birthday. So for starter we chose what we had before: calamari (with créme fraiche and sweet chilli dip) and salt and pepper onion petals (with créme fraiche dip); even writing this now is making my mouth water for them.
The signature, famous hanging kebabs, which my mother and sister had, are food theatre. Pour the sauce at the top and, through a little hole, it snakes its way down the kebab dripping deliciousness on to your ‘properly seasoned’ chips (or swap to chunky or sweet chilli chips for an extra quid).
As it was a special occasion, I wanted to treat myself – read: stuff myself – so having had a famous kebab before I opted for the Hot option of the Botanist Boards: five small dishes (a main for one, or starter to share). My favourite of these was between the Cumberland scotch egg – if a scotch egg makes you think buffets or birthday parties, then stop it, they’re not crispily breadcrumbed like this – and baked camembert with prosciutto, gooey goodness scooped up with a chunk of well-made bread. The other dishes were patatas bravas, chicken skewers and whole garlic prawns.
On the cocktail side, I’ve started drinking them, attracted by their inherent campness, so I chose a Pink Poppy Punch (again, maybe because of the camp sounding name) which was fruitily sweet. I imagine it’s easy to drink too many. I’ve never had an espresso martini, either, so wanted to try one; I’ve tried one now.
The staff are great: you get the feeling that The Botanist is a nice place to work, making for happy and friendly service. As well as good food in a restaurant, a welcoming reception will make you want to return.
10 Church Street, Cardiff. 029 2013 0053 / here
words and photos CHRIS WILLIAMS
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