If you’re looking for a spot of indulgence at middle-of-the-road prices, look no further than Wezzy B’s brand new joint. The Botanist, just down from Central Avenue, is taking centre stage; exposed wood beams and creeping ivy to boot.
Not mucking about, my dining partner and I kicked things off with a round of nibbles to warm up the bellies. First up, crispy whitebait dusted with cayenne and served with saffron mayo (£3.95). A good coating of breadcrumbs encased a proper meaty bit of fish that weren’t too salty as can often be the case with the little blighters. The nibble that reigned victorious had to be the onion petals with creme fraiche (£3.95); wedges of onion carved into delicate petals and cloaked in the most incredible salt and pepper crust.
Accompanying our starters were two delightful cocktails to get us right into the mix. For myself, an English mojito, made with Tanqueray gin, cucumber, mint, lime, green apple liqueur and apple juice (£7.95). Refreshing and light, just how I like it. The fella went for a gin martini with rosemary, Lillet Blanc and lemon bitters (£9.95) that well and truly cleansed the palate, but he couldn’t hack it, so I necked ‘em both.
Next in line was a homemade scotch egg with piccalilli (£5.95) that begged to be sliced to reveal the soft yolk inside. It almost went down in one, but we paused to lather it in the tangy orange sauce. The gambas pil pil cooked in chilli, garlic and olive oil (£7.50) came served with some proper soft bread, and were an absolute delight. The fattest prawns we’ve seen this side of the Med.
We ordered a couple more bevs while we waited for our mains, and an absolute show-stopper of a cocktail arrived moments later. The pear and kiwi cup (£7.95) is summat straight out of Alice in Wonderland, mixing kiwi, lime and apple juice with Licor 43 in a teacup, with a steaming pot of green tea on the side. My blackberry and rosemary fizz (£7.95) didn’t have the same presentation pizzazz, but the flavour was definitely there, packing fresh blackberries, rosemary, lemon and apple juice with yet more Tanqueray.
Without further ado, the mains. Before my eyes, two pan-fried sea bass fillets with spinach, tomato and piri piri dressing (£14.95) and a side of spring onion mash (£2.95) lay waiting to be devoured. And I was happy to oblige. It wasn’t the beefiest portion of fish, but what it lacked in content it more than made up for in character; the crispy skin complemented beautifully by the spicy drizzle.
Alas, the battle of the banquet was won by my bleddy boyfriend. His hanging pork kebab (£12.50) was a wonder to behold. The chunks of belly slathered in chilli and ginger sauce were tender and the accompanying chips were seasoned to perfection. A dining triumph if ever there was one.
Running out of room, we settled on a couple of light(ish) desserts: baked chocolate chip cookie dough with vanilla ice cream (£5.50) – recommended by everyone in the building – and a caramelised banana split, with toasted marshmallow ice cream, brownie pieces, peanuts, biscuit cream and chocolate sauce (£5.50). We only managed a couple of bites of each, but both succeeded in bringing that sweet conclusion to an all-round glorious gorging affair. Lucy Manning
40 Bridgford Road, NG2 6AP. 0115 704 3700