What better way to kick off the weekend (Thursday is the new Friday surely) than a trip to the country or Didsbury as it’s known, to check out The Botanist.
Those in the know will know there’s already a Botanist on Deansgate and this a larger, bigger sister version that has made its home in Didsbury village just off School Lane in what was the Wetherspoons.
She may be bigger but the Botanist Didsbury looks all the better for it with its folksy, crafty style that boasts two floors, the upper with a terrace perfect for sundowners and the lower, all wooden benches and what looks like a wonderfully cosy fire for when the nights draw in.
The menu is the same as the younger sis and appeals to those wanting a superior gastro pub experience at prices that give great value for money. It also looks family-friendly for the ‘burbs if you want to take the kids out and enjoy a bit of sophistication for yourself.
We started with nibbles. I love the fact that there are now starters before starters, all for the extra courses. These start from £2.95 and my favourites were the onion leaves, succulent and onionyly delish with that kind of coarse, roasted but sweet aftertaste. Olive were juicy and green, while pork scratchings (I can do without scratchings but that’s just my personal take), were wolfed down by the rest of the table.
Onto starter starters and these are from £4.25. I had the chicken liver and rum pate which was rich and wonderfully meaty, so much so that people kept nicking bits of it. My companions raved over spicy chicken wings that hit the spot with a tangy zing, while prawns’ piri piri had the bite you want and calamari melted in the mouth.
Sam had a whole chicken for his main, a whole one, because he’s shredding or whatever PT thing he’s doing (all I can say is thank god it wasn’t leg day). This smelt and looked divine, apparently being good and moist as well as carb free and protein heavy. My flattened steak was pink and wonderful with salty fries, a Botanist staple that never fails to impress. While fish and chips were heralded a delight (the mushy peas were ace – I nicked them) and VivaEms’ hanging kebab was anything but.
This is the halloumi one, which VivaEms asked for without vegetables and more halloumi, so basically halloumi with a skewer through it. All the above was scrummy and superb value as mains are around a tenner upwards.
The staff, especially Manager Dan, are attentive without being in your face and the whole vibe is nicely chilled with drinks flowing and some gorgeous cocktails to get the party started.
Onto pudding (is there not a pre pudding, pudding yet?), and we shared a chocolate fudge cake that did everything a chocolate fudge cake should in a melting, gob-full of chocolate way. A hanging kebab rocky road didn’t quite work because of gravity really, it’s hard to string up marshmallow, biscuits and chocolate but the taste was there.
Everything was served on pretty miss-matched plates with dinky touches such as teeny tiny wheelbarrows bearing food and a teeny tiny watering can to pour extra cream on things. My only complaint, can we lose the paper napkins? The whole wrapped up cutlery in paper mouth-wipers is so Victoria Wood sketchy and you really just want a nice linen napkin.
VIVA verdict: The Botanist Didsbury is blooming lovely so go don’t hedge your bets, get digging in (all puns intended). Visit http://thebotanist.uk.com/locations/didsbury-manchester, for bookings