Jolly Botanist

14th March 2015 – 12.30pm

The Jolly Botanist opened a short while ago on Morrison Street and I had been hearing good things, so we decided to go and check it out. When we arrived it was virtually empty, which for a Saturday lunchtime was a little worrying. However, the place was heaving by the time we left a couple of hours later. My friends had arrived shortly before me so had already got us some menus. The most hefty of the menus was for the drinks. The Jolly Botanist offers 70+ gins so there is plenty to choose from. The menu also suggests the perfect tonic and garnish for each of the gins, so they know their stuff. They also offered some cocktails (both gin and non-gin based) and the usual bar offerings such as beer and wine. We opted to try some of the gin cocktails, which seem reasonably priced at around £6.50 and tasted pretty good. The food menus came in two forms; one was a breakfast menu and the other was consisted of small bites, mains and desserts. I opted for two small bites – the pizza bread and the beef carpaccio. My two dining companions went for the pie of the day, which was steak and haggis (and had come recommended by the waitress) and fish cakes with chips, again from the small bites section.

Pizza bread (top left), carpaccio (top right), steak and haggis pie (bottom left), fishcakes and chips (bottom right) - Jolly Botanist

Pizza bread (top left), carpaccio (top right), steak and haggis pie (bottom left), fishcakes and chips (bottom right) – Jolly Botanist

When the food arrived, I was a bit overwhelmed with the amount of pizza bread. As a small bite, I was not expecting 6 or so pieces which each were at least the size of my hand. Good value but certainly not a light bight and better perhaps for sharing. The flavour was good and the bread was soft and tasty. It’s a shame I simply couldn’t finish it. The carpaccio on the other hand had the potential to be good. It had a mayo on the side and a scattering of micro leaves. However, it was utterly spoilt by being completely covered in pink peppercorns. I tried to scrape off what I could but it made little difference as all I could taste was the perfume of the peppercorns, which obliterated the flavour of the meat. Moving across the table, the pie was the size of a spaceship. Again, this was value for money. However, my friend said that the haggis didn’t really add anything and you couldn’t pick out its distinctive flavour. She also was a bit annoyed that the vegetables were not far off being cold. They had been placed in one of those little saucepans but this was not warm so didn’t do anything to help them retain their heat. The chips were also more like wedges and she probably would have opted for the mash had she known. The fish cakes were enjoyed and particular note was made of the ketchup, which according to the menu was homemade.

We eventually caught someone’s eye and managed to order some more drinks (the same problem was found by the table next to us when trying to order). It probably wasn’t helped by the amount of crashing that seemed to be taking place behind the bar. I have never heard a bar be so noisy just from making drinks. It was a bit distracting and often made it difficult to have a proper conversation without being interrupted. After we finished the drinks we decided to get the bill. This took an inordinately long time and one of us eventually had to get up to get someone’s attention to ask for the bill. It seemed the staff preferred to be behind the bar area, even when there was no-one to serve, rather than working the floor.

The gin in this place was great. However, the food and service was mediocre. Go here for drinks by all means and perhaps have a snack to soak up the alcohol but don’t make a purposeful visit out to eat here.

Food – 5/10

Service – 5/10

Atmosphere – 6/10

Value – 8/10

Overall – 24/40

Cost £63 for one main, four small bites, three cocktails and three gins with a mixer

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