Sunday, 3 August 2014

The Botanist, Manchester

The Bontanist, Manchester
So Living Ventures are taking over the world. Their empire building regime is going great guns, throwing millions of pounds at Manchester's unloved buildings and pulling in crowds of the beautiful people. They already own half of Spinningfields, with The Oast House, Australasia, Grand Pacific, Manchester House, Artisan and the Alchemist all coming under Tim Bacon's kingdom. 

The Botanist is already an established brand in footballers' playground Alderley Edge, so I was interested to see how this would work in the already saturated '├╝ber-cool' Manchester bar scene. We had a quick peep at the menu before we went, which looked very similar to its sister, The Oast House. The hanging kebabs are there, as are those amazing fries. 
The Bontanist, Manchester
We walked through the packed bar and were shown to a much calmer dining room which had a bit of 'established greenhouse' feel about it. Whilst my sister-in-law was busy coveting the chairs, I was already complaining about the lack of natural light. Don't get me wrong, it was very cosy, just a nightmare for a snap happy food blogger. Therefore I apologise for the quality of the snaps, but I did not want to come over all 'food-twitcher' and ruin the experience for every bugger else.

My husband was initially disappointed by the absence of an online beer menu (concerns for lack of decent beer were raised...), only for us to find this beautifully illustrated booklet on the table.
The Bontanist, Manchester
Starters are a 'picky finger food' type of affair.  We sampled the hot wings, houmous and Welsh rarebit fondue. The wings came in a cute little picnic basket, and both the houmous and fondue arrived with a mixture of home baked breads and raw vegetables. My only complaint was that I ran out of cheese before I finished the mountain of dip-able items.
The Bontanist, Manchester
Steak and ale pie with gravy, mushy peas, and chips: No messing about. Decent pastry, tender beef inside in a thick, ale rich gravy.
The Bontanist, Manchester
Chicken and mushroom pie with mushy peas, gravy and mash: Another pie, another way. Again, three cheers for the crisp pastry, and a creamy chicken filling.
The Bontanist, Manchester
Lamb burger with salsa, lettuce, gherkin, tomato, and seasoned fries: We actually sampled both the beef and lamb burgers, a bit by accident. My brother and I both ordered the beef one with cheese, but we got one of each. Our waitress apologised profusely but I really wasn't too worried and offered to keep the one that came. I am so glad I did! The beef version is good, but I think I preferred the lamb. As a goodwill gesture the manager gave us a round of free drinks. Major brownie points for good service.
The Bontanist, Manchester
We probably should not have entertained the idea of dessert. I've lost my eating mojo a bit recently, yet still thought it wise to attempt to conquer a sticky toffee pudding. Foolish. Paddy and Chris both had the hot chocolate fudge cake, whilst Jenny decided on a lighter option of peach melba sundae. Yeah, right. Look at that mother!
The Bontanist, Manchester
The Bontanist, Manchester
We really enjoyed our first trip to The Botanist. It does feel very much like an Oast House experience, only it isn't as crowded, or as hot. The market may be saturated with 'down with the kids' restaurant bars, but there are a hell of a lot of punters in Manchester, and whilst there is demand Tim Bacon will add to his fortune. I wouldn't be surprised if we don't see a few more Living Ventures venues popping up in the city centre in the next twelve months.

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