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Chelsea’s Favourite – The Botanist, Sloane Square.
The Botanist on Sloane Square was a lively venue on a drab January day. Despite the overcast sky, the sizeable room was flooded with light from the large expanse of glass that hugs the sweeping curve of the window.
Situated on a corner of Sloane Square it caters not only for those who enjoy a spot of lunch in between shopping – the area is renowned for its upmarket boutiques – but it is also a very convenient place for a pre-show drink or meal. The Royal Court Theatre is a few doors down and as close is the Cadogan Hall. Both venues are well worth frequenting, and it is handy to have a reliably solid restaurant nearby. The Botanist is not only very pretty inside but also provides a great spot for people watching if you ask for a table alongside the windows.
Indoors the room is fitted with pistachio leather banquettes and mulberry chairs set around small wooden tables. The walls are hung with artwork depicting flora and fauna. A particularly striking piece covers the entire back wall where illuminated flowers and animals are individually framed and hung as a montage. It will have you peering over your companion’s shoulder as it is a compelling work. Alongside is another space with a different vibe. It houses a long bar with an art deco light installation and has walls painted in a shade of blue which is reminiscent of the sky strewn with fluffy clouds. At lunchtime the low tables alongside the bar were full and I made a mental note to hop on a barstool for a nightcap one evening after the theatre.
The Botanist menu is compact but has something to suit all tastes – several fish options, chicken, lamb and beef along with some tempting plant-based dishes. We took our time choosing because there were several dishes that beckoned.
A large glass each of chilled Tournée de Sud Picpoul (Languedoc, 2018) and Castro Valdes Alberino (Rias Baixas, 2017) settled us down nicely while we waited for our starters to arrive. I sampled the fennel cured Scottish salmon, horseradish cream, pickled fennel and rye toast. The dish was a gentle one. A slice of rye sat alongside a ribbon of cured salmon with a scattering of micro herbs. Beneath the fish were delicate pieces of lightly pickled fennel. A dollop of horseradish cream added a smidgen of heat.
My companion had admired the prettiness of the dish on the next table and thus encouraged, ordered the king prawn and avocado cocktail, Marie Rose. This is one of those classic – and now retro – dishes that I believe will never go out of fashion. The presentation was lovely. A glass bowl was filled with crushed ice while a martini glass sat above filled with avocado and shredded lettuce dressed with Marie Rose sauce. A large prawn adorned the dish and although a bit fiddly to eat, was tasty. The sauce had been added judiciously and did not overpower the delicate flavours.
The main courses arrived promptly and were both served in attractive black dappled bowls. I chose crab and chilli linguine with crab bisque. This is a dish I look forward to enjoying on the French coast on a summer’s day with a briny breeze over the sea. I don’t usually eat it in the winter, but the crab bisque turned it into a meal more appropriate to the cold weather.
The chilli did not announce itself with a fanfare but did add a back note of heat. Far more capsicum strength was present in the side of tenderstem broccoli which was well adorned with chopped red chilli. The broccoli was delicious, just the right side of steamed, holding its crunch and colour.
My companion’s main course was lovely to look at. A good-sized portion of pan-fried cod perched on a thin, crispy potato and thyme rosti beneath which a puddle of tarragon and butter sauce added flavour. A pile of emerald green chard looked the picture of healthy eating. A wedge of lemon would not go amiss.
I always tend to overeat when reviewing meals because to do the menu justice, dessert must be tasted. Perhaps that is just an excuse because I had no difficulty putting away a baked vanilla cheesecake with cinnamon maple syrup and pecans. I am not generally an accomplished baker, but cheesecake is my signature cake and I therefore rarely order it in restaurants. I was pleasantly surprised by this one. The syrup added a hint of sweetness to the cake that had a good texture and was mercifully was not overly sweet. The pecans were an interesting addition. It looked very pretty too – a small round of cake surrounded by a snowfall of icing sugar and a stream of syrup on which biscuit gravel lay scattered. A small point of order is that the dessert should be removed earlier from the fridge as the cake benefits from being served at room temperature.
My companion enjoyed the dark chocolate torte with pear caramel and cocoa nibs. This was a delicious dessert and plant-based too. A slender slice of torte was decadently rich and topped with cocoa nibs. Alongside lay a sliver of poached pear, delicately spiced. A botanical dish as my companion observed.
We completed the meal with an Americano and a fresh mint tea.
The atmosphere at The Botanist was very relaxed, the service efficient, each dish was pleasing. The room was filled with chatter and good cheer. It is conveniently located and is no doubt popular with local residents and visitors alike. After lunch, my companion went off to do some shopping which seemed a very good way to continue a pleasant afternoon.
The Botanist Sloane Square
7 Sloane Square
London SW1W 8EE
The Botanist is part of the ETM group and we’ve enjoyed a number of their restaurants and bars, including The White Swan in Fetter Lane and Chiswell Street Dining Rooms and the Jugged Hare which are both in the Barbican. It’s refreshing to find a reliable group of restaurants and bars which span London and provide high-quality food in excellent locations.