To say it’s been a challenging time for hospitality is an understatement – and a half. However, during the second lockdown Botannika opened in the old Carluccio’s site and immediately won over the neighbourhood.
With a shop in the entrance selling pastries, filled rolls, juices, hot drinks and take-away dishes long queues regularly formed of people out on their walks picking up goodies. While Botannika was restricted to this level of business, you still had a tempting view of the beautiful refurbishment and fit-out and we couldn’t wait to try it out properly once they could open as a fully functioning restaurant.
There are several tables outside on the High Street and just into The Spires, but we waited until we could be seated inside. It’s a glamorous room with a lounge area at the front with plenty of tables beyond and getting a booking is easy, particularly as they are open all through the day. We’ve been on a busy Saturday night and a more quiet Tuesday evening and both times we had a really welcome sensation of being “out”. The low lighting creates a grown-up atmosphere and the background gives it a holiday vibe. It is decorated in shades of green with lots of lush foliage and there are various interesting design features dotted around boosting the individual personality of the place.
As for food, there is something for everyone – but, thankfully, without involving a suspiciously long menu. From the open kitchen at the back, dishes generally have a fresh, summery feel with creative combinations of flavours and textures. They are particularly strong on plant-based options, although we can vouch for the excellent meat and seafood dishes. Our favourite include courgette fritters with red pepper and chilli jam, watermelon salad with feta and mint and hoisin dressing, crispy smoked tofu with nigella, sesame, seaweed and toasted hazelnuts, charred aubergine (all from the small plates menu ranging from £6-9) and from the large plates menu, pistachio lamb chops (£18) and barbary duck breast with white chocolate orange sauce and citrus salad (£12). Triple cooked chips with rosemary salt (£4) also received a big thumbs up. We’ve only tried one desert so far – chocolate fondant with spiced roasted pineapple, vanilla ice cream and rum caramel (£9). The drinks list includes a fine selection of rum, so it seemed rude not to have any with the chocolate pud and it was the right choice! (However, do make it clear if you’d like certain things as starters or mains, otherwise dishes will be served as and when they ready.)
The drinks list features cocktails, juices, shakes and other soft drinks, teas, coffees, along with some interesting spirits, wines from £20 per bottle (perfectly drinkable Portuguese red and white). It’s a potted selection spanning Europe and the New World, rising to some smart French and Italian and Champagne and other fizz for all budgets with plenty by the glass (from £6).
Botannika is a fantastic addition to the High Street. Whether you fancy a snack or hot drink, light lunch or modest mid-week supper or an extravagant night out, it has it all. And, amazingly, right here in Barnet – how lucky we are!
Monday to Saturday: 8am till late
Sunday: 9am till late