One of the first of the new Broadgate Circle restaurants to open was the ETM Group’s The Botanist, building on the great reputation of the group’s original restaurant and bar of that name in Sloane Square. It is also potentially the complex’s late night venue with its spacious and well-decorated downstairs bar/club-type room (The Soda Room) open until 2 am. The latter is available for private hire Sundays to Tuesdays and would make for a great venue for such.
Perhaps though the new bar/restaurant should have been named the Zoologist given two of the more striking decorative features are a stuffed crocodile hanging over the bar and a stuffed swan over the staircase leading down to the lower level bar area. (Barbican residents will be well aware of two more of the group’s restaurants close by the complex – The Jugged Hare and Chiswell Street Dining Rooms, with a third – The Well gastropub a short distance away on St. John Street just north of Clerkenwell Road.)
With its open frontage spilling out from the main bar into Broadgate Circle – an amazingly sheltered suntrap and a great place for people watching, the new Botanist makes for a very attractive venue – and a busy one virtually throughout the day and evening – particularly as the warm summer days extend the alfresco eating and drinking hours.
The restaurant offers a classic British and European menu, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, weekend brunch and Sunday roasts. A wide selection of fine wines and beers sit alongside The Botanist’s highly regarded selection of seasonal cocktails that are a speciality with many having been devised originally for the Sloane Square branch.
Our visit was on a Monday evening and the restaurant was fairly quiet, although the bar was busy with some choosing to eat off the bar menu rather than the more extensive restaurant one. It was a sunny evening, but with a chilly breeze, but the outdoor area is very sheltered. The restaurant décor is all wood panelling, leatherette banquettes and upholstered or dark wood chairs – perhaps more London club in effect than modern day minimalist restaurant.
We started with crispy fried calamari with a spicy Sriracha dipping mayonnaise. The calamari was beautifully prepared and the sauce had just the right piquancy. The other starter ordered was herring roes with chili on toast. Herring roes are something I like, often buying them to cook myself at the local Waitrose, and I have to say these were truly excellent.
My main course was off the daily specials board – the ‘lamb bomb’ comprising slow cooked ‘pulled’ lamb to use a description usually applied to pork, inside a spherical pastry case served on a bed of greens with rosemary jus. Beautifully presented, well cooked, but for my taste the chef was over-heavy on the salt (even though I like things salty). Easy to remedy, but it does seem to be a trait as over salted food has featured on a couple of other reviews I have seen. I ordered a side of seasonal vegetables and creamed potato which were also well prepared. My colleague seemed to particularly like the potato!
Instead of a main, my colleague ordered a second starter of what she described as a delicious smoked eel salad with really crispy, thin pancetta and asparagus. A few days later she commented further that she would love to ‘eat it again now it was so tasty!’
The food on offer from a fairly extensive menu could be almost described as midway between bar food and gourmet. Indeed most of the starters are also on the separate bar menu and one suspects that during the summer the attractiveness of being able to sit outside with drinks and cocktails and eat from the bar menu will be an extremely popular option. As autumn and winter draw in the restaurant may come into its own.
Desserts: A lemon curd and pistachio alaska was again beautifully served in a little copper pan – something that seems to be a bit of a trademark of the ETM Group’s restaurants. The dish would definitely be a good choice for someone with a sweet tooth, although we thought the dessert pricing was perhaps a little high. We also ordered a bowl of three sorbets – very nice but not particularly special.
Overall a three course meal at The Botanist would cost around £35-55 without wine – more if some of the pricier dishes like lobster or some of the bigger steaks were to be ordered as mains. Wines start at around £19 a bottle.
The Botanist opens for breakfast at 8 am – The Botanist breakfast (Its equivalent of a full English) come in at £14.50 for example and again on a sunny morning it would provide a great venue for this. The Express breakfast costs £10, while at weekends it serves brunch – two courses for £20, three for £25 and an unlimited option (unlimited Prosecco, Mimosas, Bloody Marys and ETM wine) for an additional £15.
Overall a really attractive and buzzy venue which should appeal both to those working close by in the city and as a destination place for those coming in in the evenings and at weekends. It’s not cheap, although there are lower cost options on the bar and starter menu, but when one recognises the big investment which has gone into fitting out a very pleasant space for eating and drinking, not to mention the overheads, that is hardly surprising.
The Botanist Broadgate is in Broadgate Circle – the easiest entrance being by the Fulcrum at the western exit from Liverpool Street Station.
Hours are as follows:
Bar – Monday to Friday – 8am to midnight, Saturday – 10am to midnight, Sunday – 11am to 6pm
The Soda Room – Wednesday to Friday – 9pm to 2am, Saturday to Tuesday – closed (available for private hire)
Kitchen – Monday to Friday – 8am to 11pm (Breakfast 8am to 11.30am; Lunch 11.30am to 5pm; Dinner 5pm to 11pm; Bar menu served all day), Saturday – 10am to 11pm (Brunch 10am to 5pm; Dinner 5pm to 11pm; Bar menu served all day), Sunday – 11am to 5pm
For reservations call 020 3058 9888