Review: The Botanist, Monument, Newcastle
It's the city's most talked about venue at the moment, creating a great buzz on social media, but what did we make of The Botanist?
Monument, Newcastle City Centre
Open: Sunday to Thursday noon to midnight; Friday & Saturday noon to 1.30am
If you judge popularity on Facebook check-ins, then The Botanist was head and shoulders above the rest when it came to where people went for a tipple or bite to eat over the festive season.
Famous faces like Alan Shearer and Geordie Shore's Vicky Pattison were snapped in the Monument venue over Christmas and the MTV reality star would surely have been impressed by the cocktails served up.
When my friend and I called in for a meal we could not help but be tempted by the bevvy of beverages offered on the drinks menu.
Although on the pricey side, they were appealing in both appearance and taste. I opted for the Blueberry & Apple Cooler - a very refreshing blend of vodka, Creme de Mure, lime, apple and ginger beer while my dining partner had their thirst quenched by a Strawberry & Cucumber Breeze - a mix of fresh cucumber, mint, Beefeater gin, apple juice, vanilla syrup, cranberry juice, strawberry liqueur, lemon juice and strawberry puree.
For seasoned cocktail drinkers like ourselves, choosing one was quite a tough task but not as hard as it was to decide on a starter.
After much to-ing and fro-ing on my part and even more deliberation across the table, I decided to break my Welsh rarebit virginity with a fondue take on a favourite from the land of St David while my friend opened their dining account with garlic mushrooms which arrived on a garden trowel garnished with caramelised onions.
My fondue was a piece of heaven for the mouth, the fresh celery and crusty bread were the perfect tasty tools for the job and the noises opposite me suggested that the mushrooms also made a great first impression.
After such a delicious starter my main had a very tough act to follow.
Arriving after a rather noticeable wait, the chicken caesar salad (perhaps a bit pricey at £10.50) was packed full of tender meat but garnished with a bit too much dressing for my liking.
It would be fair to say in the battle of the mains the honours most definitely went to my friend's choice - a hanging Lamb Kofta kebab which as well as looking impressive also sat on the table like a challenge ready to be taken on.
After pouring some piri piri sauce over it and its accompanying chips, she lapped up every morsel of the lamb which was accessorised with chilli, onion and tomatoes.
Washed down with another Strawberry & Cucumber Breeze, it garnered rave reviews and many others in the packed dining area also seemed to be enjoying similar kebabs.
Two courses and two cocktails down we opted out of dessert but that's not to say we weren't tempted.
The walk up three flights of stairs to get to the restaurant only adds to your expectation and appetite once you make it in and as well as the nice food and pleasant and well presented staff, the fantastic views of Grey's Monument make it well worth while, although it will put a dent in your pocket with our bill coming to £65.20.
Like clothes, restaurants and bars often fall in and out of fashion.
Early hype and social media buzz has helped put The Botanist very much in vogue and its inventive decor, top notch cocktails and eclectic food menu should ensure it remains near the top of the pile in Newcastle.
Get those Facebook check-ins ready!