I was invited to The Botanist for a Bloggers ‘tea party’ last week to sample a few of their deli boards and other treats, accompanied by teas and prosecco. Having eaten lunch at The Botanist with my girl friends not long after it first opened I knew of it’s quirky side.
I’ve always been a little unsure of where the Botanist fitted in with the dining scene in Leeds, and was hoping to have a clearer idea by the end of the evening. With the decor leaning towards the girly side the table was adorned with pretty vintage style crockery which looked all very cute. On offer to start was a selection of loose leaf teas from Jericho & Jeeves, including Earl Grey, China Jasmine and more intriguing teas like Turkish Chunky Apple and Mojito Mint.
I’ve been a huge fan of Russian Caravan for a while, this version was a much smokier affair and quite pungent in aroma and taste. It was a lovely tea and I was pleased that the smokiness, even though it was quite intense it didn’t have an overly long after taste.
Some starters and nibbles were brought out to share which were nice. The best bits were the pâté and houmous which were both flavoursome and moreish. The onion petals were highly spiced and tasty, but I don’t think I could eat a lot of them as I found them a bit much just after a 2/3pieces, (probably a good idea it was meant for sharing). The flatbread was decent enough and I liked the idea of dunking crudités in the houmous, another good sharing dish, saying that i’m not sure when the crudités had been prepared as they’d gone a tad dry, in particular the celery.
Prosecco and deli boards were brought over a short time after (deli boards normally costing £9.95). A deli board consists of four items, from deli favourites, meat and cheese sections.
I went for the cous cous and seed salad which was quite tasty, speckled with chopped veg and herbs, the home dried tomatoes were good because they weren’t dried within an inch of their lives and still had a touch of moisture to them. Both the Sharrock’s Lancashire cheese and Parma ham were very flavoursome as you’d would expect them to be, being a specific product sourced from an outside producer.
My friends board of Chicken caesar salad was not so successful unfortunately. The chicken was a little dry and its texture was chalky, whilst the Somerset Brie hadn’t been given chance to reach room temperature, so the elasticity and creaminess you’d associate with Brie was missing. Once it had reached the desired temperature it was however, very nice. Finally the pickled beetroot and carrot was a little disappointing, the carrot was hard to detect and the pickled beetroot didn’t have the sharpness you’d think it might possess naturally, or from the pickling process.
The cocktails were a lot of fun and my favourites were the Peach and basil margarita and their signature cocktail The Botanist. Both were of the sweet variety and very easy drinking.
There are definitely positives and negatives from the evening. Service was great as you’d expect at an organised event like this, but the overall concept and the food didn’t hit all the right notes for me.
At the end of the evening and since having time to think about it, I’m still a little confused about it. I like the idea of some of the things paired together, such as a proper afternoon tea with finger sandwiches, scones, cakes, patisserie and prosecco. Possibly with something more savoury to accompany it, like welsh rarebit or a baked soufflé. However, sharing plates and deli boards I don’t really see it fitting with this idea. Yeah, the cocktails were great, but I can’t see the whole concept they were selling as a way I’d spend time with my girlfriends. Maybe I’m more of a traditionalist than I thought I was, perhaps I should be thinking outside the box more, I’m just not sure really.
Disclaimer: I was invited to the event so the evening was a complimentary one. This was in exchange for an honest, unbiased review of my experience.The Botanist 67 Boar Lane Leeds LS1 6HW 0113 205 3240 http://thebotanist.uk.com