The Botanical

Hello my fine dining friends, welcome back for another first class post. First, some housekeeping. Thank you to my newest mystery follower no. 23, much appreciated; you made my week!  Also, thank you to the people who left some posts in the comments section, again, I really appreciate the simple acknowledgement of my work and the time taken to say hello! 🙂

Ok, so back to the good stuff. Last week we had another “birthday cousin’s night” and following tradition (like our last outing) we hit up The Botanical. The Botanical was/is somewhat of a little icon in Melbourne. It recently had a significant renovation and now is a very swish looking wine bar and restaurant with decorated Executive Chef Cheong Liew. Cheong used to head “The Grange” restaurant at Hilton Hotel in Adelaide and has been given a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for services in developing and influencing the style of contemporary Australian cuisine. His approach is adopting seasonal freshness and raw ingredients and breaking a few rules in between.

I hadn’t heard of the Botanical before a few weeks ago so I did some Googling and found some mixed reviews. My friend Urbanspoon in particular has been very harsh to this place but Nat and I hoped for the best anyways. We all rocked up about the same time and hit up the very hippity hoppity bar to wet out whistles. The place has a sweet cellar with extensive premium Australian and international wines in very verylarge bottles….salivating…

Got Vino?

I slammed down some water (cos I’m so hardcore) and quickly joined the rest of the gang with their multiple Canons; 50mm’s at the ready.

Team Botanical

We got comfy and were greeted with a lovely personalised Menu titled “Nina’s Birthday Dinner” and a glass of Champagne which somehow escaped the three cameras on the table so no sexy picture (sorry!).  I think the champagne was called Devaux Brut from Bar-sur-Seine, France, whether it was NV, reserve or whatever, I cannot say. In any, the champagne was very enjoyable. It had a friendly nose of apples, pears and some tropical fruits. Toasty, bready and sweet on the palate with some kiwi predominant flavours and quite bubbly.

Tables, Menus and Champange

We had a set menu tonight, 5 course degustation and the three alcoholics of the table got wine matching. Unfortunately we were told that some of the preferred matching wines would have to be substituted because not enough of us were drinking to accommodate a full bottle. I didn’t mind but if I were to be picky, that shouldn’t have stopped a fine dining restaurant.

It’s late, were hungry, let’s get cracking!

Organic beetroot salad, roasted hazelnuts, whipped goat’s curd, watercress

2010 Brundelmayer Gruner Veltiner, Kamptal, Austria

The starter was a beetroot party; organic beetroot bulbs on a bed of raw slices of beetroot finished with a beetroot gazpacho. Accompanied with candied hazelnuts, dollops of goat’s curd and watercress. The mixture of beetroots smelt yummy and created a great mix of textures. The goat’s curd is a perfect foil to the overall crunchy beets and nuts bringing up the vegetal sweetness.

The wine for this dish was a good one. Fresh nose with grass and straw characters. Attack is firm, crisp with an intense line of salinity and limestone. Light bodied in the mid palate and finishes long with an overall great balance, complexity and lovely sweet grass. It brought sweetness to the dish and lifts the vegetal characters of the beets which I really enjoyed.


Scallops, pancetta, cauliflower puree, witlof citrus salad

2010 Le Caprice de Clementime, Halle aux vins, Cote de Provence

Scallops and pancetta, great combo! This dish smelt great with lovely cooked scallops and a zing from the salad. There is a nice balance of meaty flavours offset with the blood orange and citrus salad. The walnuts kick the dish up a notch adding crunch and, with the witlof, act as a palate cleanser preparing you for the next bite. Would have liked a bit more on the plate, maybe one more scallop, nuts and perhaps crisp up the pancetta. Delicious dish and I think the others thought so too! Some people finished their plate before I even picked up the knife!

The wine was a French rose from Provence made with ugni blanc and grenache blanc and was the first of the substitute wines. Lush nose of peaches and apricots with a starchiness that made me think potatoes. Attack is stewed pear (without the sweetness), more stone fruits, wet rock and seeds. Finishes vegetal (I kept getting cos lettuce) fresh and full bodied.

Individually the wine was very approachable but with the food, it became very salty and brought the tannins to the front….Ick….

Delicious course but let’s change up the wine on this one (or drink it first).

Hapuka fillet, smoked pomme puree, caramelized fennel, shellfish sauce

1999 Leroy Duval, Meursault, Cote d’or, Bourgogne

This was my favourite dish of the day. A lightly seared hapuka fillet with caramelised fennel and shallots on a bed of pomme puree (or as I call it, mash potatoes) surrounded by a shellfish bisque.

The fish is a fantastic platform for the accompaniments of shallot and fennel and puree. Flavours are intense and smokey with a silky velvet feel of the puree and sweet seafood bang of scallop roe/lobster from the bisque. Combo this with flakes of fish and crispy skin (or shall we say tempered skin, Masterchef showed tempered chocolate the night before and thus became a running joke of the night!) and we have a wonderful dish. This was good. A few people thought the fish may have been overcooked, maybe I was lucky! I liked the bounce and firmness of the fish and how it flaked away which offset the smooth accompaniments. Would not have liked a mushy semi cooked cut.

Now on to the food, this was also a subby, a Bourgogne with an aged musky nose with notes of trail mix and dried fruits with asparagus and plums; almost felt like nosing a sweet wine.  Attack is of damp wood and the smell you get when it rains. It gets a bit flat on the mid palate, not much going on here and lacked any flavours. Finished semi long with smooth rocks from the sea.

The food gave the wine more of a sultana flavour and made it a deeper and fuller wine. I imagine the dish would have been better with the actual paring, the Shaw & Smith M3 Chardonnay as it needed more weight and oak influence to take on the food flavours. I don’t think the wine served was up to the match and interestingly enough, maybe should have been decanted.

Still, a finger licking good dish…yes there was finger licking…

Roasted lamb rump, Sicilian Caponata, feta foam

2007, Kilikanoon Alliance Crozes Hermitage, Clare Valley, SA

The last course before desert was slices of lamp rump topped with feta foam on a bed of Sicilian Caponata (aka Italian style ratatouille).A lovely buttery smells comes off the lamb which is cooked very nicely, soft and moist. Initially I found the caponta (which was very good) quite overpowering and distracted from the lamb flavours rather than complementing them. It got much better when you ate some pieces with the feta foam as the saltiness counteracted the tomato’s acidity. The downer was one of our party got stung with undercooked lamb – where is Matt Preston when you need him!

The wine was again a subby, but was well welcomed. Nose is nice showcasing vanilla, red berries and salsa. Attack is firm, medium bodied and rustic. There is a good balance of fresh bready flavours with meaty and savoury characters which made me think of gravy.  Oak comes through on the finish rounding off a fantastic wine and a very good expression of hermitage.

Unfortunately the wine is diminished somewhat with the food; tannins come out to play and overwhelmed the acidity and fruit of the wine. Still, my favourite wine of the night and wouldn’t have minded another glass to ponder over later.

Chocolate mousse gateau, citrus and cointreau Bavarois citrus terrine

Romate ‘Cardenal Cisneros’ Pedro Ximenez Fortified, Jerez

Chocolate mousse, citrus cointreau layered cake with frozen blood orange; also known as the Balthazar, teamed with PX. This smells like an apple pie and tastes exactly like a Jaffa (thank you Sarah!). The cake is very soft, very light and has some lovely citrus notes; some passionfruit and oranges. The sauce tastes like a blitzed mandarin (thank you Nina!) which matches well with the cake.

Its partner in crime is not so docile with a nose that kicks you in the nuts! Fairly strong and pungent nose, heaps of prunes, light coffee and milk chocolate. Attach is raisins and sultanas to a tee. Mid palate opens up into a Christmas pudding with a side of cranberries dipped in milk chocolate. Delicious but waaayyy too much.

With the cake, the PX becomes more like candied oranges dipped in chocolate…such a sweet combo!

After desert came second desert…

The Birthday Cake

Now, I don’t usually like white chocolate but this cake made me think twice. Vanilla beans, whole meal and butter cream makes for a mean cake! The tempered white chocolate (hehehe) comes up as the main flavour (duh), great snap on the chocolate with a raspberry sauce that binds the elements on the plate together. Well layered with a thick icing like top and fluffy base. Nom nom nom….

Petit fours

Third desert was a pistachio and cherry financier. Nothing to write home about but still a nice finish to the meal. Unfortunately it was paired with a coffee that was…ugh….way too….I mean I can take strong coffee and quite enjoy it, but ugh….nasty.

So the Botanical, what can I say. Mr Urbanspoon, you may finally have a positive review for this place. The ambiance of the restaurant was very comfortable, friendly waiters and pretty good food. I enjoyed all the courses and the only downer was the wine pairings and maybe a bit pricey for what you get in comparison to other places. The wine mismatch came as a surprise to me seeing as this was a wine bar and wine store but hopefully you people out there thinking about going will have the actual pairings.

Anyways, hope you all had fun reading and getting full on the food pics, hit me up with a comment and/or follow my blog else I may have to photobomb you!

Happy Birthday Nina!

See you soon,


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