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Umami vego heaven at The Botanist

By Tom 21 Jan 2019

Seaside eatery, The Botanist in Lyall Bay has made a reputation for itself over the past few years for serving delicious plant-based eats that appeal to meat-eaters and vegetarians alike. The Botanist achieves what some would deem impossible: taking meat-heavy classics, like a steak, burger, or fish and chips meal, and making a vegetarian or vegan version which is so immensely satisfying that you won’t miss the original.

For summer, The Botanist launched a fresh seasonal menu and a new chef. The result is an almost entirely new list of choices. Despite very helpful assistance from attentive and friendly staff, we had a really hard time choosing - as every dish to emerge from the kitchen was stunning.

Botanist 17a
The Botanist - Starters
Photo credit: Tom Huthwaite

The Botanist sits proudly on the Lyall Parade – Onepu Road intersection in Lyall Bay. It's a large weatherboard building just off the beach, with a beautiful interior and a sunny courtyard perfect for adults, kids and dogs alike. Inside, the green-leafy bar and multitude of hanging plants makes for a unique summer-botanical vibe and an excellent first impression.

We start our orders with a Mama’s kombucha (prettied up with flowers and tasteful garnish), some perfectly crunchy fries, and jalapeño poppers stuffed with vegan cashew nut ricotta. The jalapeños pack a good punch and the ricotta is just as good as any non-vegan cheese – mellow and gooey – served with a side of peppercorn aioli. Fresh microgreens are tastefully scattered, which I have to admit is one of the quickest ways to please me when it comes to presentation.

Visually, the show-stopper of the evening is the vibrant gado gado boats: crunchy baby gem cups, tender marinated tofu with satay, roasted red pepper, peanut crumble and avocado, again with microgreens and pea shoots. There’s really only one thing I need to say about these: yes, they do taste as incredible as they look!

On the taste-sensation front, I have to hand the crown to the crumbed halloumi and roasted cauliflower steak.  This large main is served on crushed baby potatoes, topped with crispy onions, rich vegetarian gravy and popped capers.

The taste and smell of this dish is pure Sunday roast – a savoury, umami heaven, likely to please even the most dedicated carnivore.

Botanist 19a
The Botanist - halloumi cauliflower steak
Photo credit: Tom Huthwaite

Although all of the above is more than enough for two, we round off our dinner with the smoothest cashew-cheese cheesecake I've ever had. Today’s flavour: zingy lime and delicate lingering coconut, topped with micro basil, and served with vanilla ice cream. My wife orders the chocolate pot with Kalua cream, vegan orange coconut ice cream, and peanut cookie crumb – a real medley of flavours and textures, and perfect for those who want everything in their dessert bowl.

As we’re leaving, I've already had a second look at the menu to choose my next meal here: the vegan cheese fondue, followed by the vegetarian fish and chips – featuring (instead of fish) a tempura-battered banana blossom. I can't wait. 

The Botanist 16 Credit Jeff McEwen

The Botanist

The perfect spot for a seaside bite to eat and drink.

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