RESTAURANT REVIEW: The Botanist Manchester

At the end of last month it was the two year anniversary of the day I first met the boyfriend. Every year on our anniversary we treat ourselves to a meal at a restaurant that we’ve never eaten in before. This year we decided to try one that everyone seemed to be talking and Instagramming called The Botanist. There are four restaurants in Manchester alone; one in Alderley Edge, another in Media City, the third in Didsbury and the final one on Deansgate in Manchester’s city centre, which was the one we visited.

The Botanist, Deansgate Manchester

When you enter there’s a grand piano leading to the bar area. On the night we visited there was live music playing and the place had already filled with those out to sample their famous cocktails as well as diners.  

Live music plays at The Botanist

As you might imagine from a restaurant named The Botanist, the decor was inspired by nature and laid out like a secret garden full of botanical curiosities  lining the walls. Each room featured a different theme. Our room was the ‘seed room’ and looked rather like a greenhouse come conservatory. 

The cabinet of curiosities

ecor aside, The Botanist is also famous for its hanging meats and it’s botanical cocktails. Unfortunately I didn’t have a chance to try the cocktails that evening because when I signed up for their newsletter I was offered a free bottle of wine with our meal, so I was busy working my way through a bottle of rose.

Botanical-themed seating areas

As a massive cheese lover there was only one starter worth trying and that was the whole camembert baked in garlic and rosemary sourdough bread. This came served with a smoky apple ketchup and a Braeburn apple.  We sliced off sections of the sourdough which was covered in gooey camembert and dipped that in the smoky ketchup and it had a rich, deep flavour. The apple was a welcome addition and it evened out the rich camembert with the sweetness of apple.

Baked camembert in sourdough loaf
Baked camembert in a sourdough loaf

For main, I had to try the hanging meats everyone seemed to be talking about. However, I liked the sound of the fish version or Tandoori cod and king prawn. The boyfriend didn’t take much persuading to try their 100oz sirloin steak marinated in honey, soy and black pepper.

Fish skewer with rice

The main did take quite a while to come but when it arrived it all looked very appetising. The waitress offered to pour the garlic dip that comes in a small pot at the top of the hanging skewers down through the hole over the fish. Perhaps it was because of this that I found the fish wasn’t particularly warm. I put this down to the cold dip but when I tried the rice I also found that that was cold. Not only that but there wasn’t very much of it. So I ended up eating the single prawn and the remaining cod on it’s own, as all the rice had gone after the third mouthful.  With my small main finished off in no time (and I’m a slow eater) I was left to sit and watch the boyfriend finish off his sirloin steak, wishing I opted for that instead.

Steak and chips

We decided to go all out and have dessert as a treat. I thought I’d try the homemade banana doughnuts with salted caramel sauce and a peanut milkshake. The boyfriend hadn’t taken his eyes off the peanut and chocolate brownie cake, served with salted caramel ice-cream on the menu since we sat down so it was pretty obvious that was going to be his dessert of choice.

Banana ‘doughnuts’ and a peanut butter milkshake

Again he seemed to have chosen better than I had, because once again, his dessert looked and tasted much nicer than my own. I was expecting the banana doughnuts to be, well, doughnut like, but instead they were more like fritters. The batter was crispy on the outside but far to wet and doughy on the inside and for a banana doughnut it tasted neither of bananas nor of a doughnut. Instead they were bland to the point that not even the salted caramel sauce could save them and I left most of them uneaten.

So instead I sat and again watched the boyfriend eat his brownie cake which he let me try and tasted amazingly sweet and rich as you’d expect from a brownie.

Chocolate and peanut brownie

Overall, I do think I would return again to The Botanist to try their Botanical cocktails and to perhaps sample their lunch menu when the restaurant in less busy. I do suspect perhaps I went in with my expectations too high, hence why I felt a little disappointed. I was expecting the food to be a little fancier and less pub-grub style, which I personally love, but it wasn’t what I had expected of this place. Would I recommend it? I think I would especially for the atmosphere but I recommend choosing wisely from the menu.

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