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The Botanist

Sprightly and whimsical, The Botanist is abloom with good food, great drinks and a fun, furzy mood.
By Zoe Bechara
December 17, 2012
By Zoe Bechara
December 17, 2012

Sydney drinks and dines divinely well and it now has a sparkly new summer spot. The beach boys behind Bondi Hardware have established a balmy bar and restaurant on the lower north shore. The Botanist, sown in the central street of Kirribilli, is the small bar come grazing ground the area desired.

Laden with luscious plants, lots of wood and the occasional nautical knick knack, The Botanist feels foliaceous and fanciful. Named after the English botanist who ran a bookshop on the site during the turn of the century, the place oozes Victorian apothecary-style charm; the menu is marked with botany illustrations and water is served in scientific-looking bottles. It pulls a cheery mix of locals and North Sydney workers, but with a breezy vibe you'll find more boat shoes than Blahniks. Forget a plum in the mouth, here you get the whole fruit bowl with a drinks list focusing on herbs, fruit and exotically spiced liquors.

Open up The Botanist's elegant green menu and you'll see a charming Ralph Waldo Emerson quote, "What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered." The subsequent cocktails, in the interests of discovering the most virtuous of verdures, feature herb flavours and curious combinations. The Green Grass ($16) has cinnamon-spiced vodka, apple syrup, fresh green apple juice and a little lime and is soul-soothing and festive. Lulu Warriors ($18) has pirate-like spiced rum, amaretto liqueur and pine-lime juice; improbably, it works.

The Botanist's food is the kind of casual and slightly eccentric fare suited to sharing over drinks; with hints of British India, the elements are a modern mishmash of the spice trade. The lamb salad is robust and satisfying, with slow roasted spiced lamb shoulder with roasted capsicum, tomato, hummus, minted yoghurt, rocket and marinated fetta ($19). The sliders (4 for $20) are a big hit; these babies running the gourmet gamut from India (butter chicken with cucumber and lime relish) to Lebanon (lamb kofta, tabouli and hummus). The quesadillas, with chorizo, spiced beans, potato and cheese, are hearty and limey with tomato salsa and guacamole ($18).

Sprightly and whimsical, The Botanist is abloom with good food, great drinks and a fun, furzy mood.

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