I don’t think you have to live in Newcastle to have heard about one of the Toon’s newest and most exciting venues which opened less than a year ago.
The Botanist, in the city centre, has been the talk of the region since opening in December last year – well this has certainly been the case with my friends, family and even work colleagues.
I think there’s a real excitement about the place, I know I only have to take a look on my Facebook page to see people ‘checking in’ and posting about it on social-media sites to know how popular the venue has been – so, with all this in mind, I decided to check in myself.
Set across two floors, the restaurant and bar are really something special. I hadn’t actually set foot in the venue until the other week when I met a friend who was visiting from Canada and we were off to the Theatre Royal, which is literally just across the road.
The venue is actually quite high up in the Monument Mall but you enter from the ground floor. There is an option of a lift but, not realising how many steps we’d need to climb, we walked up to the very top of the building. Once there, we opened the doors and it was almost like entering another world. The small entrance opens up to a room in which a large, striking tree climbs almost to the top of the domed roof. Directly underneath is the bar area which seemed popular with people interesting in getting a drink after work.
It was easy to see why queues form regularly to get inside this venue.
Although it may seem like a noisy venue, there are multiple areas where you can get some food, including the outdoor terrace. This may seem like a daunting prospect in the winter months but there is outdoor heating if you fancy braving it in favour of some pretty spectacular views.
Once we’d walked up the twisted staircase to get onto the roof terrace, we were greeted by a young, friendly waitress who offered us a selection of menus, one for food and the other for drink.
The venue offers a wide selection of alcoholic drinks, including its very own cocktail menu. I gazed through some of the options – there were more familiar offerings like mojitos and coolers but I was slightly more intrigued by some options like the raspberry and sage watering can and a watermelon and sage sling.
Because I was driving, I opted for a grape, raspberry and elderflower cooler, as did my dining partner.
Turning to the food, again, there’s a series of different options to start, some familiar and not so. You could have the option of Cumberland and pork chipolatas with honey-grain mustard (£3.50), some sardines in a tin (£6) or even a home-made Scotch egg (£5.95).
Because we didn’t want to be too full, we opted to share some calamari with some lemon mayonnaise (£6.25)
The calamari was very light and not too chewy, the batter coating was again not to heavy and was complemented beautifully by the lemon mayonnaise.
For the main event, dishes were broken up into home comforts, off the barbecue and from the rotisserie. The comforts section is a series of different pub foods with a twist. There was the traditional option of fish and chips (£12.95), gammon cutlet (£12.50) or even a lamb tagine (£12.75) but I opted for the chicken burger from the barbecue selection.
My partner also opted for something off the barbecue range. She went for a chicken hanging kebab (£10.50), something I’ve only ever seen at The Art House in Alnwick, when it was open.
While we waited for our food, it gave us a moment to look out on what was astonishing scenery and the panoramic views of Newcastle that I’ve never seen before. The view out from the roof terrace shows you Grey Street which is littered with architectural jewels, with the many rooftops in the background.
When the food arrived it was immediately apparent why the hanging kebab was so popular. Presented on a skewer, you get some garlic butter to pour. It trickles down and collects at the bottom to almost marinate the chips – it was very tasty.
My chicken burger was served in a little wooden box which made things slightly trickier to pick up, but who eats from a plate these days? I find chicken burgers can be sometimes fried too long, making them dry – thankfully this was not the case.
The Botanist gets a massive thumbs up from me – I’ve even booked in for my sister’s birthday next month. I’m sure it will be the perfect present.
ONE OF THE REGION’S FINEST
If you’re taking a trip to Newcastle then I’d definitely make sure The Botanist is on your itinerary. The venue is superior in many respects, not only is it extremely attractive on the inside, the views outside are stunning as it towers over the whole of Newcastle’s city centre.
Prices are on par with other eateries on the neighbouring Grey Street and meals are certainly filling.
SELECTION FROM THE MENU
Pan-fried garlic mushrooms.......£4.95
Smoked haddock fishcake.......£5.95
Basket of wings.......£5.95
Scampi and chips.......£9.75
Chicken and chorizo pie.......£10.95
Steak and stout pie.......£10.95
Off The Barbecue
Beef, lamb or chicken burger.......£9.95
From The Rotisserie
Half a chicken.......£9.95
Warm chocolate fudge cake.......£4.95
Sticky toffee pudding.......£4.95
Traditional trifle sundae.......£4.95
Banana and coconut kebab.......£4.95
STAR RATING (out of ten)
Quality of food.......8
Use of local food.......5
Toilet for disabled.......Yes
Verdict: A real treat for all the family, great service and a really stunning venue.
Open: 12pm to 12am (Friday and Saturday 1.30am)
Contact: 0191 261 6307 or visit www.botanist.uk.com