Tag Archives: foodie

The Botanist – where steampunk meets botanical magic

Delicious treats
Delicious treats

Do you ever read those advertising magazines that are spread across the desk in your hotel room? I have to confess – Sometimes, maybe, but usually I just brush them aside to make room for all of the travel books, casual books, magazines, and electronics that I brought with me. It is not like I just push it all onto the floor – I neatly clean off the paraphernalia that is “littering” the top of the desk so I can organize what I brought with me and see where all the outlets (or lack thereof) are located. At some point during the trip I may eventually take a quick flip through one of their magazines. I know, probably not the best habit for a travel writer, but I am working on changing that.

On a recent excursion to Chester, England I actually took a moment to stop and flip through that colorful magazine before I swept it off to the side – scanning headlines, reading the occasional recipe, reviews of the seasonal spirits, or the most noteworthy up-and-coming restaurants.

One brief headline caught my eye, The Botanist – an eclectic dining experience steeped in charm and style. There are so many ‘wine bars’ and ‘brewers’ that this caught my eye. The name was just enough to give a little intrigue and interest without giving away what it was all about. It was so steampunkish!

The lobby at The Botanist
The lobby at The Botanist

I was not disappointed! The atmosphere was so amazing and unique! It gave the feeling that you had stepped back in time to a garden sanctuary. The exterior of the restaurant was decorated in wrought iron panels with vines growing over them. The interior was decorated with wood accents that had a weathered-gray finish to them.

steampunk decor
steampunk decor

The bar area was quite impressive with an expansive front bar that had ample room for the botanical mix-masters to work their magic with herbal infused liquor and spirits. The back bar consisted of a massive shelving system that contained a sizeable assortment of liqueurs infused with berries, herbs, and fruits in addition to a fabulous selection of craft beers and ales.

Our mix-masters
Our mix-masters
The bar at The Botanist
The bar at The Botanist

Their menu is a beautiful and tasty selection of dishes inspired from delis and rotisseries of the UK and the comfort food from grandma’s English kitchen. Note worthy menu items that had a unique table presentation were the Hanging Kebabs (a very savory dish available in chicken, lamb kofta, prawn or beef and slathered with sweet chili, ginger, and garlic butter), Chicken Liver and Rum Pate that is brought to your table in a mini terracotta flower pot on a wooden plank with Turkish flat bread and a plumb and apple chutney that is served in a mini wheelbarrow.

Chicken liver and rum pate
Chicken liver and rum pate
Hanging lamb kabab
Hanging lamb kabab
carrot cocktail - it was actually good
carrot cocktail – it was actually good

Other favorites include the homemade Scotch Egg (fried to perfection so that the breading is crispy on the outside but the egg still has a soft center) and the Salt and Pepper Onion Petals served with a herbed sour cream sauce.

Scotch egg
Scotch egg

 

Craft ale and cocktail flight
Craft ale and cocktail flight
watermelon cocktail - great for hot summer days!
watermelon cocktail – great for hot summer days!

The food was delicious, flavorful, and wholesome! What a great find tucked in a narrow little side street off Eastgate St. and Northgate St. The Botanist is a great place for lunch, dinner, or a place to meet friends in the evening for cocktails and to listen to live music.

 

For more information on locations, hours and menu items check out their website at http://thebotanist.uk.com/

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How to have an Unforgettable, Adventure-packed weekend in New Orleans

New Orleans

New Orleans is a truly amazing city! It is incredibly diverse and eclectic offering a wide range of activities for every interest from historical landmarks to new age vape shops and haunted tours to shopping for antiques or listening to live music in any one of the many bars or on the street corners and dancing in the street to getting married and parading down Bourbon St.

street dancing wedding procession

10 ACTIVITIES THAT SHOULD BE ON YOUR LIST

  • GO ON A TOUR!

There is such a variety of tours available you may not be able to decide between going on one or multiple tours! To give you an idea of the variety available, there are ghost tours, grave yard tours, historic haunted tours, plantation tours, whiskey tours, haunted bar tours, swamp tours, trolley tours, bicycle tours, foodie tours just to name a few!

Three tours that we went on that are definitely worth mentioning are Dark Crescent Tours Plunder & Booty Tour, Haunted History Tours and Jean LaFitte Swamp and Airboat Tours.

dark crescent tours dark crescent tours tour guide

Dark Crescent Tours offers a plunder & booty tour which is a drinking tour that is both very informative and fun. On this tour we walked (yes, this is a walking tour) to an assortment of bars and historic buildings and heard engaging and mysterious tales about the pirates, scallywags, thugs and call girls that lived in New Orleans, some of which are rumored to haunt their old hang-outs. Our tour guide for this 2 1/2 hour tour was a very animated and entertaining woman by the name of Angel who whole-heartedly embraced her role as a pirate, dressed in pirate garb complete with the 3-point hat, cape and fingerless gloves and, of course, plenty of arghs and aye’s mixed into the stories of piracy, plunder and even love. This tour includes 1 drink from each of the 5 bars that are visited during the evening.

Haunted History Tour     historic tour

Haunted History Tours is a locally owned and operated tour company that offers a wide range of tours from garden district, to voodoo, vampire, and ghost tours. They also offer a special tour, 5 in 1 ghost and mystery tour, for those who only have time for one tour but want to get a taste of several tours. Our tour guide for the 5 in 1 was the very knowledgeable, friendly and captivating Natalie who delighted us with tales of mystery, intrigue and murder in the French Quarter from the reins of both the French and the Spanish rulers. Natalie regaled us with many stories, one of the most mysterious was of the Sultans Palace where there was a massive massacre of all the inhabitants of the house, every man, woman and child had been hacked up and their body parts strewn through every room of the house. It was a very bloody and gory scene, but who did it and why has never been discovered and remains a mystery to this very day.

Jeanlefitte tour  Jean Lafitte tour  Jean lafitte tour Jean Lafitte Tour

Jean LaFitte Swamp & Airboat Tours will take you on an almost 2 hour adventure in Louisiana’s murky bayou’s meandering through floating islands of marsh grass and flowers in yellows and blues. As the trained guides expertly maneuver the boats smoothly through the ever-moving and changing channels of the bayou they will tell you about the wildlife that lives in the swampy bayou. They will point out the alligators as they sun themselves on the grass or as they glide through the water looking for a morsel to snack on. They will point out the egrets as they are gingerly walking over the floating islands and shallows looking for fish. The airboat ride was surprisingly smooth and gentle as it glided over the water.

  • DRINK ABSINTHE

Have a glass of absinthe at the Pirate’s Alley Cafe at 622 Pirate’s Alley and learn how this anise and fennel or black liquorish flavored distilled spirit drink is made by dripping ice-cold water over a sugar cube to create the swirled creamed look while you hear about the history of this illustrious drink that was favored by many famous artists and dates back to the 1800’s. Surprisingly, this drink really did help settle our queasy stomach from too much imbibing the night before!

Old Absinthe Old absinthe Old Absinthe Old AbsintheTHE old absinthe

  • GO TO FALULKNER BOOKSTORE

After you have your drink and lesson in absinthe, meander next door to the Faulkner Bookstore and check out their selection of poetry, unusual books and newly published books.

Faulkner book store

  • EAT OYSTERS!

New Orleans has some of the best tasting oysters that I have ever tasted! You can get them on the half-shell, fresh and clean with a bit of lemon juice or tobacco sauce, stuffed with fresh crab, breading and a buttery garlic topping, or Rockefeller with parmesan and garlic baked to perfection. My favorite was a slightly smoky, mouth-watering grilled oyster from The Royal House Oyster Bar. Just talking about it makes my mouth water!

Oysters

  • HAVE A BONE SHOOTER

Only in New Orleans have I seen or even heard of a bone shooter!  Of course, if most people cringe, I am going to try it! Go to Meauxbar on Rampart St. First of all, this is Not listed on their menu, you have to request it. Order the savory escargot that is served in the bone as an appetizer, this is not the shooter but part of the shooter, you have to tell the waiter that you want to do the shooter when you order the appetizer.. Don’t let the server get your bone (slight pun) because the waiter will bring a shot of absinthe that be poured through the bone to your mouth.

bone bone shot

  • HAVE A DRINK AT THE REVOLVING CAROUSEL BAR

The Hotel Monteleone has a fun and entertaining feature in it called the Carousel Bar. The bar revolves in a circle, no, it is not like a carnival ride, it is very slow so you barely feel the movement, unless of course you are already toasted then you will feel the room move if you are sitting in a stationary chair!

carousel2

  • EAT AT TROUP’S MEATERY

For all the foodies out there you have got to order the meatery board and the covey rise vegetables at Troup’s Meatery! They offer a delicious selection of patés, cracklins, sausage, boudin balls, cured sliced meats, seasonal vegetables and heirloom tomatoes grilled in a bacon vinaigrette. Truly unique and flavorful!

troups meatery       troupsvegies

  • HAVE A DRINK AT LAFITTE’S BLACKSMITH SHOP

LaFitte’s Blacksmith Shop is reputed to be the hang out of the pirate Jean Lafitte in the late 1700’s, yes, some think he may still be there from time to time, the building its self is thought to be the oldest structure that is used as a bar in the United States! This is a hopping place to be in the evenings for a drink and the patrons spill into the street as is common for nearly every establishment in New Orleans!

lafitte blacksmith lafitte blacksmith

There is so much to see and do in New Orleans that no matter what is on your list to do, there will always be more to see and do! There is no way to do even half of the activities available in one weekend. So, my advise to you…. just plan right now to make a return trip or two! You will be glad you did!