MyMarlow followers will be well aware we have been “all over” the opening of the new Botanist pub/restaurant opening on West Street, right back from when we broke the news of their plans to open up, right up to now when they are almost ready to open.
Last night they invited us along for a preview, where we got the chance to try their menu, and of course their drinks. It’s a tough life sometimes.
(Note – we will publish a fuller review in due course, once opening week has settled down)
So, here’s the lowdown followed by our gallery of images .
What’s it all about?
People have asked us – is it a bar? Restaurant? Music venue? Quite simply it’s a pub, with restaurant seating at the back – in terms of layout a reasonable comparison would be with the Chequers. The entrance takes you into the bar, but beyond that are tables, that can be booked, for the use of those wishing to eat.
The Botanist is part of a small chain – there are 6 others, and until now Birmingham has been the most southerly outpost.
A key feature of all the Botanist venues is live music every day. There have been some preconceptions regarding what type of place the Botanist will be – so it might a surprise some to learn that children are allowed – contrasting with the strict age policy of say, Baroosh. Also, dogs are even permitted in the bar area.
The Botanist opens “properly” on 30th November, although plenty of you have booked into the preview week using the exclusive link we shared a while back 🙂
As we detailed in our earlier article, they have taken 2 buildings and combined them into one larger one. The rear restaurant section is built around an impressive central fireplace.
There are two small gardens – one is attached to what could be a private dining room, the other is primarily there to be a smoking area – no hanging around on West Street please!
In between the bar and rear seating section is a small platform with a piano and microphone. There will be live music, every night from 7 pm. The style is laid back, covers, not too loud – so not intended to be intrusive and drown out your dinner conversation. On the preview night we were treated to the talents of Anna Neale – playing acoustic guitar and singing a variety of modern covers. She was great, it really did enhance the ambiance, and I think they have judged the style/volume just right.
A decent variety of food was on offer – there were nibbles, about 15 starters, a “deli board”, what you might consider pub standards (fish and chips, pies etc) but also rotisserie items, steaks and their signature “hanging kebabs“. Some other fun presentation ideas too…. scampi is served in a basket – but it is a mini picnic-basket which you have to open. Garlic mushrooms were served on what looked like a (clean!!) garden trowel. I really enjoyed my traditional trifle pudding, but had some pangs of jealousy when my dining partner’s “banana and coconut kebab, with toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream” arrived. Adding to the theatricality of it all, our waiter poured the sauce on, which then dribbled its way down the kebab and onto the ice cream. Menus on their website here
An extensive cocktail list – we had to try “The Botanist”, on the left in our picture. OK, we tried a few! But then we discovered an absolute stunner – the Apricot and Ginger Sling. You can also get larger “sharing cocktails”, some of them being served in a watering can!
Draft lagers and beers including Rebellion Smuggler, and a massive list of bottled lagers, craft beers and ciders. These are listed in a cool little booklet called the “Anthology of Ales” – each bottle gets it’s own page with a decent description.
Obviously there is a wine list, there was a large variety of gins – we will have a proper look at all of this next time!
The official line
John Thirlway, General Manager, stressed their desire to be right at the centre of the local community, or to “be woven into the tapestry of Marlow life” as he put it. He added “Although this is an exciting new opening for us, we want people to feel as though we have been around for ages. We want to be involved in local events, and to be a friendly neighbour to other local businesses”
48 West Street, Marlow, SL7 2NB