BY AINSLEY STARK
This week we went to the launch of Glasgow’s newest bar and restaurant, The Botany. Alan Tomkins, the man behind institutions including Urban Bar & Brasserie, Vroni’s Wine Bar and Blue Dog, has chosen Maryhill as the location for his latest venture. We were extremely keen to see what The Botany had to offer as we made our way through the M8 traffic on Wednesday night. The thought of high-quality food and drink without the pretence of fine dining kept our spirits up.
We were welcomed by the lovely Ashleigh and Olivia from The Big Partnership PR Firm. We were offered a selection of delicious drinks on arrival and chose “Take it Slow”, a gin cocktail that was so smooth and easy to drink (maybe a little too easy). Warmly welcomed and drinks in our hands, we were able to wander around the restaurant while nibbling on carefully prepared canapes, and take a look at what £200,000 worth of investment and refurbishment looks like. The results are absolutely stunning. My friend and I sat down in the corner of the restaurant and watched as the sunset shone through the beautiful floor to ceiling windows. These windows look out over a small green and you almost forget that the restaurant is situated on a busy road; it is a great city escape.
Moving on to the main event, I could see a procession of servers bringing out starters. In hindsight, I must’ve looked like a child seeing their first Christmas, I was so excited to taste the starter samples. We were presented with a tempura prawn with Japanese wasabi mayo, a sweet corn fritter with spring onion, sesame and sour cream, and a haggis bon bon with pureed carrots in a whisky and peppercorn sauce. Honestly, we could’ve had four more helpings. This hit the nail on the head as high-quality food without the pretence.
At the start of the meal we were offered the choice of three mains; pan roasted chicken with barbecue and tarragon glaze, fondant potato, carrot puree, green beans and a red wine jus, a puff pastry tart with ratatouille, pesto and red pepper cream, or monkfish curry, grilled king prawns and mango with fragrant rice and coriander. Well, they had us at barbecue and tarragon glaze! We opted for the pan roasted chicken, and my taste buds are dancing at the memory of having it. I’m sure a lot of you have that same affliction as us; your eyes being are too big for your belly? Well, we are pleased to say that the portion sizes at The Botany are “just right”, whatever that exact measurement is! Our meals were not too big, but we were completely and comfortably satisfied.
As the sun finally set, the ambiance of the restaurant transformed. The candle-lit tables created intimacy, while the bustling vibe of the restaurant was kept alive by the open plan layout. As if the night could get any better, out came three desserts to share at our table. Thank goodness we didn’t have to choose between them because that would have been far too difficult. We had peach panna cotta with basil and strawberry jam with crushed meringues, white chocolate crème brulee with vanilla scented shortbread, and banana loaf with coconut ice-cream. What a way to end the night. The restaurant started to get busy with customers and it felt like The Botany had been in business for months. From what we experienced, it was a smooth operation that felt very relaxed while still maintaining a great level of professionalism. It was a privilege to be invited to the launch of The Botany and sample the great menu. It safe to say we will definitely be back to nestle ourselves at the bar and watch the world go by. If you’re looking for somewhere new to dine in the West End, make The Botany your priority.