The Botanist – Perfect for that post-graduation meal

If you’re searching for that perfect graduation meal, then look no further than The Botanist…

Deciding where to go for your post-graduation meal is a challenging task. Even if your parents insist it’s your choice, when mum hates Thai food and Dad isn’t a big fan of Italian, finding somewhere that will keep the whole family happy is no mean feat. So if you’re struggling, the Botanist at Leeds Trinity might be the answer to all your problems.

We headed there on a balmy June evening to try out their new menu and with the flowery interior, exotic cocktails and live acoustic music, I almost felt like I was sipping my drink in some far flung location (just like everyone else on my Instagram feed seems to be right now *sob*).

The Botanist specialises in cocktails, delicious, hand-crafted concoctions incorporating a whole range of flavours and fruits, so although they’re a bit on the pricey side (£7-£8 a go), I would definitely recommend trying some out. The menu is slightly overwhelming at first glance so we asked our friendly waitress to recommend some to us, and ended up with a classic Strawberry and Cucumber breeze which was light, refreshing and sweet, and ‘The Botanist’; the restaurant’s signature recipe containing vodka, rum and elderflower liqueur, it packed a bit more of a punch.

Crispy whitebait nibbles

Now, because we were feeling a bit peckish, or maybe because the cocktails were already getting to our heads, we decided it would be a good idea to get some nibbles, that is, a ‘pre-starter’ starter. We went for the crispy whitebait sprinkled with cayenne and a side of saffron mayo to dip. While the dish was delicious, the portion was also twice the size we were expecting so be warned; The Botanist is great value for money but if you want to make it to the desserts at the end (and I highly recommend you do), then pace yourself.

Baked camembert with smoked bacon

Next up was the starters, and there was one obvious choice which we just had to try; the baked camembert with smoked bacon coupled with bread, apples and celery for dipping. There’s not much that can make camembert better than it already is, but I can vouch for the fact that the bacon was the perfect addition. Channelling the holiday vibes, I went for the crispy calamari with piri piri salt, lemon and lime mayo, which was deliciously succulent.

If you’ve heard people talk of The Botanist previously, you may have heard of their famous hanging kebabs, which come with lamb, chicken, pork, salmon or halloumi and falafel. There’s no denying they’re a must-try; I went for the salt and pepper pork belly which was flavoursome and tender. But don’t be afraid to branch out, as the menu offers everything from grilled meats and burgers, to home comforts such as pie, and fish and chips. We also chose a dish from the day’s specials board, a lamb shank with garlic mash, that was simply divine.

Pork belly hanging kebab

While we were slowly eating our body weight in food, we were also gradually making our way through that extensive cocktail menu, trying everything from the Pornstar Martini to the Blackberry and Rosemary Fizz. Our cocktail highlight, however, was from the ‘Pots and Planters’ range, a series of cocktails with a floral theme all served in terracotta plant pots and even tea pots. The Peach and Apple pot tasted like childhood sweets, with liquid nitrogen enveloping the whole thing in tendrils of wispy fog, and it was probably one of the best cocktails I’ve ever tried.

Baked chocolate chip cookie dough

By this point we were quite tipsy and bursting at the seams, but if the rest of the food was anything to go by, there was no way I was leaving without trying the desserts. We went for the classic caramelised banana split with toasted marshmallows, brownie pieces, peanuts, biscuit cream and chocolate sauce, and it was the absolute dream. Not quite as dreamy, however, as the baked chocolate chip cookie dough with vanilla ice cream. It was quite stodgy, but too delicious not to clear the plate.

Overall, the meal was absolutely faultless, and you can’t go wrong with a menu that serves everything from fish and chips to Malaysian curry. And with dishes ranging between £10 and £15, it’s also not the most expensive option you could go for. So sit back and enjoy those cocktails, because there’s no better way to celebrate a graduation than with very large quantities of very good food.

Jessica Murray