If your perfect night out includes delicious food and imaginative cocktails, take a look at The Botanist in Birmingham
In Birmingham city centre, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to picking somewhere to go for food. In fact, there’s so much choice that you might not know where to begin.
If you’re looking for a fun venue for a meal with friends, the Botanist restaurant and bar is certainly worth checking out.
We were recently invited to try out the new Autumn menu at the Botanist in Birmingham. We discovered that it has a menu that caters for both veggies and meat eaters, as well as fabulous cocktails to add glamour to your evening.
Read on to find out more…
How to find The Botanist
You’ll find the Botanist right in the heart of Birmingham city centre, just a few minutes’ walk from Birmingham’s three central train stations.
It’s ideally placed if you’re staying at one of Birmingham’s many hotels, or visiting the city for an event or a day of shopping.
And if you’re not local to Birmingham, you’ll also find the Botanist in a range of locations across England.
Welcome to the Botanist
We visited the Botanist in Birmingham on a cold Friday night in October. With torrential rain pouring down outside, we were relieved that we only had a short walk from New Street Station.
Inside, the decor is eclectic with all sorts of whimsical decorations around the walls, and fabulous light fittings hanging from the ceiling.
The Botanist has a bar area, which is perfect for popping in for a drink with friends. And downstairs in the Plant Room, they even offer gin tasting session and cocktail masterclasses.
But we were there to try out the food and drink in the restaurant.
We were quickly shown to our table, and took a look through the menu.
At the risk of making myself sound old, the light levels in the Botanist are quite low. This gives the room a fabulously cosy ambience, but made reading the menu a little tricky until my eyes adjusted.
And while the atmosphere was boosted by a great soundtrack, it was difficult to have a quiet chat. This is a venue for a fun night out with friends, not an intimate dinner for two.
At the Botanist, you can choose from everything from deli boards to comfort food and pies. They have a gluten-free menu, and also offer a fabulous Sunday Roast.
But our first priority was to choose our drinks!
Cocktails at the Botanist
The Botanist is justifiably proud of its extensive cocktails menu, many of which can be adapted into mocktails. I decided to start my evening with the alcohol-free version of the house speciality, The Botanist.
The alcoholic version of this is made with white rum, vodka, St Germain, jasmine syrup, red amaranth, fresh mint, lime juice and lemonade. Mine came without the alcohol but was full of light, fragrant flavours and was a refreshing start to the evening.
Mark wasn’t feeling in a cocktail mood at this point, so decided to start with a beer instead. He had hoped to try the Braxzz low-alcohol Orange IPA, but it was unavailable, so he opted for one of several alcohol-free lagers that they stock instead.
It’s really positive to see that the Botanist have so many interesting alcohol-free drinks on their menu. We’ve come a long way from when the only choices were fruit juices and sugar-laden soft drinks!
After placing our drinks order, we turned our attention to the food. I was particularly keen to see what meat-free options were available as, like many people, I’m trying to cut down on the amount of meat that I eat.
So I decided to try the Garlic Mushrooms, one of several vegan starters on the Autumn menu at the Botanist.
My starter arrived fairly quickly and the presentation was certainly imaginative. I have to admit that I’m not a huge fan of food that doesn’t turn up on a plate, and this presentation made eating my starter a little awkward. I would have preferred a plate, and probably should have asked for one to be brought over.
But the food itself was very tasty, with mushrooms that were full of rich, garlicky, savoury goodness. A dairy-free savoury spread and granary toast completed the dish. I really enjoyed the flavour of the dish, which made up for the awkwardness of the eating experience.
Meanwhile, across the table from me, Mark was tucking into his Cumberland Scotch egg with gusto.
This was presented in a slightly more traditional way, with brown sauce and mustard served alongside.
He let me steal a little from his plate, and it really was very good. The crisp outer surrounded tender, well-seasoned sausage meat. And the egg inside was cooked beautifully, with the yolk still a little soft. The flavour was fantastic, and I have to admit that I was a little envious!
Other options on the menu include chicken pate with toast, salt and pepper wings with a sweet chilli dip, and baked Camembert in a garlic and rosemary bread bowl, which is ideal for sharing.
Our plates were cleared away and after a good start to our meal, we were looking forward to our main courses
A selection of dishes to suit all tastes
There’s a wide range of options on the menu at the Botanist. Whether you fancy a steak or burger, or something a little lighter, you are sure to be able to find something that fits the bill.
Mark felt like something warm and comforting, no surprise given the deluge that was still coming down outside.
So he chose the mushroom and squash pie, which is served with champ, mushy peas and gravy.
The pastry was light and crisp, and the flavoursome filling had chunks of mushroom and squash in a rich sauce. This isn’t a vegan pie, but it’s a very tasty meat-free option. The mushy peas were light and full of flavour, and Mark really enjoyed the champ.
Meat eaters might prefer the steak, lamb or chicken pies, which are all served with the same side dishes. Or you might fancy trying one of the Home Comfort dishes like beef stew with dumplings, or bangers and mash.
Mark had ordered a glass of Malbec to go with his main course. The Botanist’s wine list features wines from both the New World and Old World, with something to suit all palettes. Most of the wines are available either by the glass or by the bottle.
Meanwhile I added a little fizz to my main course with a glass of Bolney Eighteen Acre rosé wine. It’s light and dry, with notes of strawberry and red cherry, and a vibrant pink colour. A very glamorous glass of fizz indeed!
And while Mark was enjoying his comfort food, I’d gone for something a little different. I decided to try one of the Botanist’s famous Hanging Kebabs.
There are a number of options, both meat and veggie, but I chose the Crispy Halloumi version. Pieces of crisp-coated halloumi cheese are alternated with slices of pepper and red onion in a sweet chilli sauce. It’s served with a dish of melted garlic butter to pour over the kebab, making it a mouth-watering combination.
The kebab comes with seasoned chips as standard, but you can upgrade to sweet potato fries, sweet chilli chips or triple cooked chips. I find sweet potato fries hard to resist, so they were the obvious choice, and these ones were really good. Altogether it was a delicious dish that I really enjoyed.
And luckily this course did come with a side plate!
Could we squeeze in dessert? Well, it seemed rude not to take a look, and we both found something that tempted us to indulge.
Mark always enjoys traditional puddings, and sticky toffee pudding is high up on his list of favourites. So that was an easy choice for him.
It was served with vanilla ice-cream and lashings of rich toffee sauce. A fabulous way to round off a meal full of comfort food flavours.
Meanwhile, it took me a little longer to make my choice. In fact I only really decided what to go for as Mark was placing his order. I was tempted by the bread and butter pudding with Nutella and Biscoff, and by the chocolate brownie Hanging Kebab.
But in the end, I decided that I really felt like something with a lighter flavour, so the Lemon Tart seemed to fit the bill.
Unfortunately the raspberry sorbet that it should have come with was unavailable. So instead it was served with vanilla ice cream and a raspberry coulis. The tart was delicious – rich and creamy but with a lightness of flavour that meant it didn’t feel too heavy.
A Final Round of Cocktails
The Botanist wine list does have some dessert wines and ports that were quite tempting. But instead we decided to round our meal off with after-dinner cocktails before we headed back out into the rain.
Neither of us are big fans of overly-sweet cocktails, so we were looking for something short and elegant. And I found exactly what I was looking for in the Smoked Birch Old Fashioned.
It is made with Monkey Shoulder blended malt whisky, with Freya Birch spirit which is distilled from birch tree sap and has light peach notes.
Fir tree liqueur, orange bitters and demerara sugar round out this excellent cocktail, which is presented in a smoke filled glass vial. It’s a very grown up cocktail, which is ideal for relaxed sipping.
And if I enjoyed my cocktail, I think Mark’s choice may have been even more delicious. He plumped for the White Negroni, which is a slightly sweeter spin on the traditional Italian cocktail.
It features Hayman’s Old Tom gin which is sweeter than the more usual London gin. Mixed with white port, Martini Ambrato and elderflower cordial, this cocktail has a smooth, sweet flavour that was simply delicious.
And so we sipped on our cocktails and drank in the Friday night atmosphere before heading out into the rain that was still steadily pouring down.
The Botanist, Birmingham: My Verdict
The Botanist is a great place to start your evening in Birmingham city centre. It has a vibrant atmosphere, delicious food and imaginative cocktails.
I was very impressed to see that the menu has a number of dairy-free and gluten-free options, as well as an extensive vegetarian and vegan selection. There’s an extensive wine list, fabulous cocktails, and I was particularly pleased to see an exciting range of alcohol-free drinks.
And the service throughout our visit was warm and friendly. We didn’t feel rushed, despite the fact that the restaurant was very busy on a Friday night.
Our meal was complimentary, but the bill would have come to £89. That includes three courses for two people, plus three drinks each. Without drinks, the food would have cost £46, which seems quite reasonable for a three course meal in the city centre.
Yes, I would have preferred to have my starter presented on a plate. No, the lighting and sound levels weren’t completely to my taste.
But overall, this is a fun place to eat out in Birmingham City Centre.
14-16 Temple Street, Birmingham, B2 5BG
0121 600 7430