Date of Last Visit: Friday, August 10, 2008
The Victims: Al, Darsh, John, Rutton
The Damage: £62 each
The Background: Rutton says I don’t write enough about the restaurants I visit in London. He wants more details. But see…I have a short attention span. So I assume everyone else does too. And I’m not Giles…I can’t get away with 1,374 words. Michael Winner’s latest comes in at a reasonable 812. A.A. Gill weighs in at a hefty 1,454. Jay Rayner is a very tight and right 777. Fay Maschler, 886.
Besides not having that many words, I don’t have all that much time, what with having a day job and all that. But I will endeavour, as best as I can, to tell you more about The Botanist than I have about other places I have been in the past.
The Entrance: The Botanist is full of Sloaney Ponies. I feel brunette. I feel short. I feel like I should be wearing something, anything, in gold lame. Just a little sparkle. I retire in navy blue to a corner table…an empty corner table with two chairs. There’s a gentleman sitting in an awkwardly positioned chair in front of my table, a chair with a foot stool. I ask him if it’s okay if I sit at this table…is it free? Yes, he tells me, yes.
Well then of course Rutton arrives and takes the other chair and all of a sudden the table ISN’T free because this gentleman’s friends have arrived and now they have nowhere to sit. I hear him tell his friends that he had saved this table and that he was here first and I think "THAT IS SO NOT WHAT YOU TOLD ME. YOU SAID IT WAS FINE."
I am not an idiot. I turn to him. I smile sweetly and I say, "Why don’t you and your friends take this table? You were here first." I can stand. And I have better things to do than to fight with a soon-to-be-out-of-work-investment-banker. (If he’s not out of work already.)
Arrgh. Can’t we all be brothers?
The Service: We were seven and now we’re five and we didn’t call ahead to tell them that and you can tell they are peeved. In a polite sort of way. They squeeze us all into a table for four. Three of us on the banquet. I sit in between Al and Rutton and we try not to elbow each other through the course of our meal.
But our server is lovely. Attentive and kind and friendly and professional. They have a good egg in that one.
The Food: I start with the chicken and foie gras terrine and they’ve managed to make it very summery, for a terrine of foie gras. It’s lovely, really. Darsh’s crab and avocado cocktail looks even more summery and light than mine. He says it is.
After polishing off two bottles of Spanish Abarino (not on my own), my halibut arrives. It’s nice, but a tad on the salty side. Really, it’s just okay. The duck looks great. As does the suckling pig.
The Loos: Neat and clean. As I leave the ladies, I run into a guy in blue spandex with a yellow cape. I’m not kidding.
The Dessert: One of the tangiest and best slices of lemon tart I’ve ever had. Served with a good scoop of raspberry sorbet.
The Ambiance: LOUD. Really really loud. Just a few cushions would help. Really. A happening bar. I would come here later in the evening just to hang out. But I would wear my four inch platforms and get blond highlights and lose
10 15 kilos first. Just to fit in, you know.
The Verdict: Nice. Really. Lively.