Steampunk infused with botanical magic
Do you ever read those advertising magazines that are spread across the desk in your hotel room? I have to confess – Sometimes, maybe, but usually I just brush them aside to make room for all of the travel books, casual books, magazines, and electronics that I brought with me. It is not like I just push it all onto the floor – I neatly clean off the paraphernalia that is “littering” the top of the desk so I can organize what I brought with me and see where all the outlets (or lack thereof) are located. At some point during the trip I may eventually take a quick flip through one of their magazines. I know, probably not the best habit for a travel writer, but I am working on changing that.
Read the magazine
On a recent excursion to Chester, England I actually took a moment to stop and flip through that colorful magazine before I swept it off to the side – scanning headlines, reading the occasional recipe, reviews of the seasonal spirits, or the most noteworthy up-and-coming restaurants.
One brief headline caught my eye, The Botanist – an eclectic dining experience steeped in charm and style. There are so many ‘wine bars’ and ‘brewers’ that this caught my eye. The name was just enough to give a little intrigue and interest without giving away what it was all about. It was so steampunkish!
I was not disappointed! The atmosphere was easy, casual and laid-back. When I walked through the lobby I got the feeling that I had stepped back in time and had reemerged in a garden sanctuary. The interior was decorated with wood-accents that had a weathered-gray finish to them. There were botanical pictures on the walls that identified the different parts of flowers along with garden yard tools. Hanging from the ceiling was a magnificent display of steampunk art in the form of a three-wheeled bicycle that had glider-style wings attached to the sides and an umbrella secured in the center in a vertical position with a whirligig propeller on top of it. The bicycle also was equipped with a motor. The exterior of the restaurant was decorated in wrought iron panels with vines growing over them.
The bar area was quite impressive with an expansive front bar that had ample room for the botanical mix-masters to work their magic with herbal infused liquor and spirits. The back bar consisted of a massive shelving system that contained a sizeable assortment of liqueurs infused with berries, herbs, and fruits in addition to a fabulous selection of craft beers and ales. The bartenders were dressed in the steampunk fashion of simple neutral colored clothes and suspenders on their pants.
Botanical treat for your palette
Their menu is a beautiful and tasty selection of dishes inspired from delis and comfort food from grandma’s English kitchen. Note worthy menu items that had a unique table presentation was the Hanging kebab – a very savory dish available in chicken, lamb kofta, prawn or beef and slathered with a sweet chili and ginger sauce. The Chicken Liver and Rum Pate that is brought to your table in a mini terracotta flower-pot on a wooden plank with Turkish flat bread and a plum and apple chutney that is served in a mini wheelbarrow.
Other favorites include the homemade Scotch Egg (fried to perfection so that the breading is crispy on the outside but the boiled egg still had a soft center). The Salt and Pepper Onion Petals served with a herb sour cream sauce was a perfect complement.
The food was delicious, flavorful, and wholesome infused with fresh herbs! The decor and theme was fun with the steampunk twist. What a great find tucked in a narrow little side street off Eastgate St. and Northgate St. The Botanist is a great place for lunch, dinner, or a place to meet friends in the evening for cocktails and to listen to live music.
For more information on locations, hours and menu items check out their website at http://thebotanist.uk.com/