Asides

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/

How to walk a new city without getting lost!

There are so many apps these days for all of our gadgets. There are apps for everything imaginable, some very helpful such as those that help you keep track of your daily life, pictures, passwords, accounts, inventory and such. Then there are those that have no other value other than for the pure entertainment of it. I am about to tell you about an extremely handy travel app that every traveler, regardless if you are embarking on your first journey or you have been around the globe several times, should have in their digital arsenal.

I have to admit when I first came across this travel app I was not expecting much. I thought that it would be like so many other apps that claim they have all these fabulous functions that you can’t travel without, the typical “all that and a bag of chips” line. But I did agree to try out the app, so I took it for a test drive so to speak on a recent trip to New Orleans (check out the adventure here). Wow, was I surprised! I was so pleased with the functions, the ease of the app and how fun it was to use that I decided to tell you all about it!

THE MUST HAVE WALKING CITY GUIDE

GPSmyCity was so fun and easy to use! It is chock full of interesting ideas of where to go, what to see and do! I used the New Orleans guide, but there is an impressive over 470 cities (click here for a complete list) around the world that are mapped out with walking tours to attractions that are sure to appeal to just about all interests. There are three main categories for the walking tours – Sightseeing  Walks, Custom Walks where you choose your own attractions that interest you, and then the Saved Tracks.

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NOW WHERE WAS THAT?

If you are like me, you just kinda wander where ever your eyes and heart lead you, not really following a clear or set path, which was very evident when I used the Saved Tracks option! It tracked my every step and wow, did my path zig-zag all over the place!  No wonder I was so tired at the end of the day! One of the features that I really liked about the Saved Tracks option was that I could drop a pin on the map in the app and enter the name of a location such as the store where I found that cute pair of shoes but was not quite ready buy yet or the restaurant that I wanted to go back to because there were just too many things on their menu to try in one sitting, but of course I could not remember just where they were located because I had zig-zagged all over the city!

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TWO FOR ONE BONUS!

With GPSmyCity all I had to do was to go back to my Saved Tracks and look at the pins I dropped, find the location I was looking for, and then I could see where it was and how to get there. Very easy! That particular function was also very helpful after the trip because I could look back at where I had been and then write about it. Very handy for us travel writers and bloggers! Not only can you drop a pin, you can also save a picture or two of the location, or in my case, the shoes that I wanted! Who does not love a simple, functional, and fun app!

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SO MUCH TO SEE AND DO!

The Sightseeing Walk category has pre-entered attractions grouped together by themes such as City Orientation, Architechual Splendors, Prominent Shopping Areas, Nightlife, Churches, Museums and such. Of course, each city has themes that are unique to that city. New Orleans for example, has a Voodoo Tour and a French Quarter Tour. Within each theme, there will be a list of what to see, why to see it, a brief history of the attraction, hours, and a map of where it is located.

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HEY LOOK AT WHERE I AM!

As an extra bonus, you can also share your walks on Twitter and Facebook, if you choose to do so, with all your friends and family so they can follow your adventures around the world.