Friday, May 12

The Botanist Reading


The Botanist has finally opened its doors bringing with it a new lease of life into the old Barclays Bank on King Street. This listed building has been a bank since 1814 when William Simonds of Brewer Simonds’ Reading set it up and named it Simonds’ bank. In 1913 they merged with Barclays until they final closed their doors in 2008. You can still see the original brass nameplate outside the bank on the wall where it will remain. 

This opening marks the 17th site opened by The New World Trading Company (NTC) with a further six sites planned in the coming year. NTC is made up of five brands’; The Botanist, The Club House, The Oast House, The Smugglers Cove and the Trading Cove. Although I have never visited any of their bars before, I’ve been eager to try after hearing everyone rave about the Botanist in Marlow. 

   
 

When you first walk in your eyes are drawn to the incredible branch archway which creates a focal point for the restaurant. Intertwining tree branches covered with foliage create an enchanted garden theme with a real focus on the botanical aspect of the menu. There are treasures and trinkets all over, beautiful tiled floors, distressed style furniture and some incredible exposed light fittings. The urban agricultural theme shines through and creates a wonderful fairytale-esque feel to the place. There is live music every night which is something unique to the area and I think really adds to the experience. The duet performing on the night we visited were amazing, I could have listened to them perform all night long! 

After pouring over the carefully articulated menu we opted for a pear and kiwi crush and a blueberry and passion fruit martini. The mixologists were on hand to offer recommendations, talk us through the process and all the ingredients used. All of their drinks focus on horticultural ingredients with some unusual combinations used to highlight the different flavours greenhouse herbs are able to give. If hops are your plant of choice they have 80 different craft beers, speciality lagers and cask ales from all over the world. They even brew two of their own Passionate Blonde and Pacific Pale Ale. Check out their Anthology of Ales if you have difficulty deciding. This is your go to guide on the finest ales and ciders they have to offer. Paired with the new world wine list and a hand picked selection of gins, there is something for everyone. Although I am not the biggest gin fan, I love the focus on local gins produced in the country today and I can’t wait to slowly work my way through the list. 


    


The food menu is inspired by deli, rotisserie and BBQ. There is a little bit of everything from deli boards and salads, to whole rotisserie chickens and burgers. There’s even a ‘home comforts’ section for those who don’t like to stray too far from their comfort zone. If your just after a nibble they had a vast selection of delicious small snacks or starters. We were dubious to try the salt and pepper onion petals but they were out of this world and I am so glad the waiter recommended them to us as they are not something I would usually have gone for. The homemade scotch egg and creamy truffle mushrooms were equally  exceptional, using simple flavours to create delicious dishes. 

For mains we opted for hanging kebabs; lamb kofta with piri piri sauce and salt and pepper pork belly, served with our choice of sweet potato fries, sweet chilli slaw and cauliflower cous cous. All the kebabs are sopped with sweet chilli and ginger, and it’s safe to say my mouth was watering the moment I spotted these on the menu. Washed down with a round of Botanist Pornstar’s we had very little room left for dessert. However this was before we spotted baked chocolate chip cookie dough on the menu and well…the rest is history. Sporting a serious food baby it was time to head home away from this mystical wonderland but it wont be long before I'm back exploring this world of botanical wonder.
* Complimentary meal with no obligation to review. No affiliation with the Botanist. All opinions are my own. 
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