It can be tricky choosing a place for a girls night out. Occasionally you find a restaurant that provides awesome service, awesome food and then a hefty bill; but hardly ever have I found one that does an awesome girls night out menu (think juicy filling tacos and cocktail jugs) but also a fabulous brunch menu (bloody botanist, corn fritters and baked eggs). Located not far from Milson’s Point train station, the Botanist has quickly become a local favourite – providing us with a sophisticated laid-back venue that had managed to charm us over on every visit.
My first visit to the Botanist happened a few months ago with the lovely K. She had somehow stumbled upon the news that the Botanist had recently opened, so we both headed down soon after to discover a relatively packed out restaurant serving up a wonderful mix of cocktails and easy-to-share dishes. After having a brief look through the menu, we couldn’t help but order one of their tempting share cocktails – The Vase. The Vase was an impressive cocktail served in a large Grandma’s vase, consisting of Tanqueray gin, Aperol, pink grapefruit juice, lime, lemonade and soda. The cocktail was refreshingly light and breezy, and large enough to keep out two glasses continuously full for the entire night (we probably got a good 10 glasses out of the vase).
… and to go with any good cocktails, you need some good share-grub. We ordered the beef cheeks and some tacos to share. Both priced at $20, I thought it was really quite good value. The braised beef cheeks with potato puree & braising juices was wonderfully tender and flavoursome, with beef chunks easily falling apart in its braising juices with a push of our forks. The tacos comes in a group of 4, with the option of getting 4 of the same tacos, or 2 + 2 for more variety. We decided to go for the 2 + 2 – choosing the grilled fish tacos and the marinated beef tacos. The grilled fish tacos consisted of a tender grilled strip of fish topped with a mildly spicy tomato salsa and baha dressing, whilst the marinated beef tacos consisted of queso and onion relish. Both were undeniably tasty and surprisingly filling, but I especially enjoyed the freshness of the queso and onion relish on top of the tender marinated beef tacos.
Overall it was a fabulous night out filled with lovely attentive service, fresh and tasty dishes and refreshing cocktails. To finish the night off, we shared a creamy and indulgent white chocolate panna cotta with fresh strawberries swimming in a pool of strawberry puree. As a bonus, the whole night came to be less than $50pp for food and drinks!
With good memories of the Botanist etched into our memories, K decided to organise her birthday brunch with some of our friends at the Botanist recently. She actually tried to organise a Friday night dinner, but it turned out that they’re incredibly popular now (needing >2 weeks notice for a group dinner reservation on Friday night) so we changed it to a brunch. The brunch menu is quite simple and limited (serving only 5 dishes). However the dishes do all sound appetising and the ones we tried were all cooked well.
The vibe at breakfast is a lot more laid-back then dinner (more sophisticated), and there is no rushing from the staff which makes the Botanist a perfect venue for those lazy Sunday brunches. There is plenty of long tables too (and they take reservations!) that makes it easier to organise larger group brunches without needing to wait for hours. To start our brunch off, we ordered some drinks. Since it was the weekend of City To Surf, I thought I’ll do my part of being healthy by ordering their juice of the day special of ginger and apple juice. K ordered the Bloody Botanist that consisted of tomato juice, Worcester, tomatoes, red chilli, lemon, orange, horseradish and chipotle Tabasco (with the option of coming with chilli infused vodka).
For breakfast we ordered the brunch taco’s, baked eggs and the corn and zucchini fritters. Seeing how much I enjoyed the tacos from dinner, I had high hopes for the brunch taco’s that my friends ordered. The brunch taco’s came in the option of coming either with chorizo or vegetarian and was served with egg, salsa, cheese and a mildly spicy sauce. Having a bite of it, I was slightly disappointed in the seemingly lack of flavour (in comparison to the juicy beef tacos from their dinner menu) but I did appreciate the concept of legitimising the eating of tacos for breakfast/brunch (and they did give us a bottle of extra hot sauce for those who wanted it spicy)!
The Corn and Zucchini fritters were served with bacon, tomato relish & a poached egg. It was quite juicy and tasty, although not as fluffy and crunchy as my all-time favourite corn fritters at St Jude.
For my brunch item, I ordered the baked Mexican eggs that was served with a side of avocado and tomato salsa and a slice of sourdough toast. The baked eggs was devilishly flavoursome and tasty, swimming in a hot bowl full of beans and spicy tomato sauce. However it was slightly disappointing to find that the egg yolks already fully hardened when I broke my way into the dish. Otherwise it was a really enjoyable dish, and their serving size for the avocado and tomato salsa was more than generous for a side.
As enjoyable as brunch was, I would probably be staying with the dinner menu (that can be ordered for lunch too), which was more extensive and had more interesting flavours. With it’s wonderful location, fabulous service, and excellent food and drinks menu, the Botanist has quickly become one of my favourite local spots. Really must head back soon to try out more of their sharing plates and their burgers.
17 Willoughby St Kirribilli NSW 2061
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