Food profile - Botanist, Alderley Edge
PUBLISHED: 00:00 17 January 2014
James Brown 93ft
Discover the Botanist in Alderley Edge and you might just have to put the post festive detox on hold, says Janet Reeder
Feeling the post-festive blues? As New Year bells fade into the distance and things get back to “normal” the tendency is maybe to detox and diet but The Botanist is maybe one place that will persuade you to carry on celebrating instead!
This is the weird and wonderful brainchild of the New World Pub Company, who are reinventing drinking establishments for a new breed of customer.
It opened around 18 months ago in Alderley Edge after the Oast House in Manchester proved to the company that the modern diner still had an appetite for a traditional pub, as long as the beer was good and there wasn’t a swirly carpet on the floor.
And the one striking thing about the Botanist is indeed the decor. It’s like an art-directed heritage potting shed crossed with Gallic reclamation chic, with an almost faded aristo feel. At night, candlelight made it a sexy setting for dining and fun, while in the daytime light it’s a slightly rustic backdrop for delicious brunches and lunches.
I recall when I was younger trekking over to Alderley Edge’s fabled Number 15 Wine Bar to see if I could meet Mr Right (never did). But I always remember how excited I felt when stepped through the door and revisiting the same spot maybe 20 years’ later I felt the same sort of anticipation.
On the night I visited with the Living Edge team the Botanist was buzzing. Clearly the New World Company had fulfilled their desire to take on the same values as the Oast House to one of Cheshire’s swankier suburbs and make it as popular. There are so many things here that I approve of, including the alfresco balcony where smokers amiably congregate and a garden that must have everyone flocking to in the summer.
But it wasn’t just the design, the decor, or the well stocked cellar of cask conditioned ales and excellent wine list we had come here for. It was also the menu of deli delights and comfort food favourites.
With the opening of Manchester House, fine dining is well and truly back on the radar but sometimes what you really want to eat are the old favourites like fish and chips and steak and frites.
And this is what The Botanist specialises in. There’s a section listed as Off the Barbecue so Burgers are proper patties of beef, Ribeye steak is deliciously juicy served with sensational chips, scampi puts you in retro heaven and fish comes wearing a coat of crispy batter, just how it should.
“Home Comforts”, signals the menu, listing the sort of fayre you might expect Dickens to relish on a trip away from London. Chicken and Ham Hock pie, braised lamb shoulder with mash and red wine gravy...dishes that you really would fantasise about if you were shipwrecked on a desert island. Even the awkward vegetarian customer (me) gets to eat her deli faves, Hummus, followed by a “hanging kebab” of soft and salty Halloumi cheese and a crisp house salad.
Puddings including a warm chocolate fudge cake and sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream (the much desired Giant Éclairs had all been eaten) finished everything perfectly.
And that wasn’t all, because on the night of our visit there was also a band - and for us that meant getting up to make some (probably embarrassing) shapes on a tiny area in front of two musicians (looking slightly worried when we started prancing in front of them). It really was like returning to a time when bars and restaurants weren’t just about the numbers of covers but about serving up good memories alongside great food and drinks. The Botanist seems to succeed on every level, from unpretentious well-made food to the highly likely possibility that you will have a very good time indeed. At weekends it opens until 2am. Can’t wait. We’ll definitely be back.
Janet Reeder and the Living Edge team were guests of The Botanist, 15 London Road, Alderley Edge
Cheshire SK9 7JT 01625 865 637