Open Mon–Fri 8am–11.30pm; Sun 9am–11.30pm
Occupying a prime location in Sloane Square, this Chelsea institution is constantly busy; be it at breakfast with yummy mummies enjoying a post school-run cappuccino or in the evening when all of Chelsea descends on the elegant venue.
Amid the glow of candles and clinking of champagne flutes resides a comforting mix of customers. From couples seeking a romantic dinner and colleagues enjoying after-work drinks to tables of friends swapping news and plans. This eclectic crowd creates a buzzy, welcoming atmosphere, making it the perfect venue for first dates. The staff are well presented and fantastically helpful – but you have to arrive early to bag a table in the busy bar area.
The bar offers a good selection of bar snacks from olives and fries to oysters and charcuterie platters. However, if you fancy a real dining experience then book yourself a table in the attractive restaurant, which leads on from the bar. The chic area overlooking Sloane Square has a speak-easy feel to it with flickering candles and the hum of good conversation.
It was hard to know where to begin looking at a menu where so many dishes vie for your attention. I started with the intriguing dish of sautéed cod cheeks and tongues, hedgehog mushrooms and confit garlic (£8) which proved to be deliciously moist and tender with the punchy garlic cutting through the subtler flavours without overpowering them.
My friend Heather chose the slow-braised venison shoulder with celeriac dauphinoise and juniper jus (£22). The portion was incredibly generous and despite being ever so slightly dry, the meat was rich and robust, although the bountiful serving defeated her.
I thoroughly enjoyed my roast saddle of Blackface lamb (£19.50). The dish was executed perfectly on the plate with the rich pink circle of meat delicately wrapped in a strip of fat, which had given the dish a delicious depth of flavour. For those considering trying the restaurant they also offer a fantastic value pre-theatre menu (£26).
On our visit, Champagne (£8.50 a glass) seemed to be the tipple of the day which was fine by us. We joined in – well it would have been rude not to.
The charismatic bar staff are also on hand to mix up creative and classic cocktails (from £8). The sparkling Lavender Bloom intrigued us; lavender muddled with honey and Apricot du Roussillion liqueur and charged with Champagne.
The wine list is understandably more extensive in the restaurant, offering a substantial range of wines by the glass (from £4). Truly deserving of its prime location, The Botanist is certainly a venue to see and be seen in for 2011.