Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love food. The same applies to cocktails, and music. Particularly live music. Can you see where I’m going with this? Yep, myself and four other bloggers were invited to an evening consisting of all of the above at the outstanding The Botanist bar and restaurant in Leeds.* It was my first visit, despite wanting to go and hearing fabulous things since it opened, and needless to say I was not disappointed…
When I arrived at the beautiful secret garden-style location, on Boar Lane in Trinity Leeds, I was greeted by the lovely Katie- The Botanist’s Business Development manager- who was incredibly friendly and welcoming. She looked after us all so well throughout the night, and I felt truly spoilt by the end. The other bloggers who came were the lovely Alex, Emma, Kellie and Kayleigh– Alex, Kellie and Kayleigh were all at the Nouveau Lashes Event I went to a couple of months ago, but it was my first time meeting Emma- turns out she’s from Harrogate too!
Can we all just take a moment to appreciate how stunning this place is? Even if you’ve never visited one before (there are others in Alderley Edge, Chester, Newcastle, Birmingham and Manchester), from my pretty gloomy pictures you can just about appreciate the magical garden theme going on. It’s pretty much interior design heaven. The shabby-chic furniture, the rustic old fan lighting, the floral water jugs? Perfection.
Plum and Apple chutney (with Chicken Liver & Rum Paté)
Properly Seasoned Chips
Baked Camembert with fruit and flatbread
Whilst we were sampling our cocktails (I’ll get to them soon!) we were given a selection of nibbles to keep us from getting too tipsy (as the bunch of lightweights we were, we had to order more). The Chicken & Liver Paté with Plum and Apple chutney was probably my favourite, because not only did it taste amazing, but the chutney was served in a little wheelbarrow and the paté in a miniature plant pot! I found all the quirky presentation of the food incredibly amusing (give me food served on a wooden board over a plate any day!)
The Salt & Pepper onion petals were incredibly flavoursome for such light bites- I would absolutely recommend these as an onion ring alternative! We also had homemade houmous, baked camembert, beautifully seasoned chips, delicious honey mustard chipolatas and more bread than should be acceptable (I felt bloated for days after thanks to my slightly tipsy scoffing habits!) all of which were delicious- I didn’t expect to like everything but I truly did, and can’t wait to go back and sample more of their unusual, eclectic menu.
‘The Botanist’ Signature cocktail
Green Mark vodka, Havana 3 rum, elderflower liqueur, red amaranth, mint, jasmine syrup and lime juice topped with lemonade
Cherry, peach and blueberry were among the flavours we ordered! Lime juice, fresh mint, Havana 3 rum, apple juice, choice of selected flavours
Brewers and Botanists No.3
Dried pink rose buds, rose syrup, pineapple and lime juices, Amaretto Disaronno and Southern Comfort, served with a bottle of Kona Big Wave
Where do I even begin with the cocktails? If anywhere takes their cocktails seriously, it’s The Botanist. We were lucky enough to try three cocktails from their huge menu (don’t know how I’d pick one myself, if I’m honest!) First up- their signature self-titled The Botanist. I would describe this as an English Garden mojito- it was so refreshing and delicious like a mojito should be, but had the little touches of elderflower, jasmine and amaranth (google it) to put an English twist on it. It was so pretty- if you’re looking for a drink to Instagram, make it this one.
Then we got to choose our favourite flavour of mojito– I went for cherry, but the others tried the blueberry and peach varieties too- we all agreed they were delicious (and went down far too fast!) Mojitos are indisputably my favourite cocktail, and although my fruity version was delicious, give me a classic one any day- I love the combination of mint, lime and sugar, whether alcohol is involved or not!
Finally, we had something more unusual- the Brewers and Botanists range has three different sample cocktails to choose from, each served with a bottle of beer selected especially to compliment the flavours in the cocktail. Katie explained the concept, that these are designed to merge the gap between the ‘beer drinkers’ and the ‘cocktail drinkers,’ and once again I loved the presentation! The No 3 was beautifully sweet and fruity, and although the beer wasn’t my favourite, it worked well to counteract the sweetness that could have become sickly if served on its own.
I loved the bar concept there too- Katie explained that they don’t have clear glass fronted fridges like most bars, but instead the bartenders will recommend something for you based on what your tastes are. I love trying new things, so I’ll be trying this out for myself next time! They really know their stuff and are trained very well- I always appreciate when the staff are passionate about the products.
And finally, we come to the live music. I was interested to find out that they have free live music every night at The Botanist, and the night we went was request night- my favourite! They have an agency with plenty of talented musicians from the area that they hire all the live music acts from, so you know they are all of the same standard and will create a great atmosphere. Trask were a brilliant duo, who kicked off proceedings with the likes of Crazy In Love, Stuck In The Middle and All About That Bass (an amazing cover, FYI), before taking on our requests! They gave a great acoustic twist on all our favourites (I cheekily went for 500 Miles by The Proclaimers- and they nailed it!) and as you can see we had a prime viewing spot.
Overall, it was a brilliant evening (so good, in fact, that I missed my train home- whoops!) and we were looked after so well by all The Botanist staff, with special thanks to Katie for inviting us. It’s not exactly a budget destination, but if you’re after quality food and drink in a gorgeous setting, prepared by people who know their stuff then it’s worth every penny. I can’t wait to go back and take George for a date night, maybe once we move closer to Leeds!
Have you ever been to any of The Botanist locations before? What did you think to them? I’d love to know if anyone else has been!
*We were provided with complimentary food and drink in exchange for an honest review of The Botanist live music experience.