Botanica, Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria, is an absolute delight of a dining experience. The food is amazing, the staff are fantastic and the ambience and decor is lovely.
Whenever I take a trip by or through the lovely village of Kirkby Lonsdale I always try to find time to pop into Botanica for my bite to eat for that day. I always look forward to it.
Since I started eating there it has gone from strength to strength, not just in the menu but also in the setting and the styling. the Botanica cafe & restaurant is situated down an alley off the Main Street.
They describe themselves as elegant yet casual and I can say this is exactly right. As I will show you the Pan-Asian inspired dishes combined with plenty of other options, including vegan and vegetarian, are exquisite and made right from fresh when ordered.
Do not expect ‘fast food’ but wonderful, nicely cooked and prepared fresh and good tasting meals. You can happily go for a selection of the small dishes and relax, socialising in comfort as you eagerly await each plate.
Inside and Outside Dining
When I first started coming here a few years ago the outside dining area was a quaint and lovely outside courtyard that adjoined the alley.
Since that time there have been dramatic changes and is always still looking forwards to improving all the time. The outside has been transformed into a gorgeous, lush and colourful outside dining area.
The greenery combined with the wood has created a lovely and welcoming atmosphere to sit in, eat and drink.
It helps create a happy and bright atmosphere too that together with the happy staff it feels so nice to sit out in the garden area.
It is covered but so that all the sunlight still gets in. In cooler days it is heated and on warmer days it is cooled so the comfort of guests is not spoilt at all by the good old northern England climate.
In the main restaurant inside the theme continues. It certainly does feel bright and fresh yet very elegant. It fits the bill for both romantic dinners for 2 or for a family on a feast. I do know that it has become more and more popular as more and more people hear about it.
Now then, the food. Yes the food is say and know to be fantastic. To continuously serve such high quality food from fresh you can’t expect one of those 1 chef does all kind of cafe/restaurants. Botanica has a team that pride themselves on each plate going out being perfect.
Botanica is open from 9.30 – 1700 Sunday to Thursday and the menu will be brunch and then daytime. On Friday and Saturday however it stays open until 22.30 so that after 5pm you can enjoy the delights of the evening menu, like I was today.
I had restricted my food intake all day ready for this latest visit here. I knew I was going to treat myself to a banquet and try as many dishes as possible. Some of the smaller dishes, a couple of sides and a main. Here we go.
What a great way to start the feast, with oysters. I love oysters but only if not served plain and these did not disappoint at all.
Nicely served on a bed of ice they came with a remarkable home made mignonette sauce that was a sensation in itself. It set the taste buds off to a great start.
Duck and spiced Lentil Spring Rolls
I was informed these spring rolls were new on the menu and that they had become an instant hit! I could see and taste why.
I do love duck spring rolls but these were at the top of the tree in my experience of having them. They left me wanting more and more to be honest.
The real flavours of these from here hit you straight away. It reminds you how inferior other spring rolls can be.
Mini Lobster Tacos
On the small plates part of their menu this cheeky dish really catches the eye. And not just for the title, Mini Lobster Tacos.
Biting into them you get a lot for a small bite, a whole mix of flavours.
The dill and lime emulsion compliments it perfectly and exactly the right amount to make the whole dish unforgettable. Also with the cabbage and lettuce.
Asparagus With Chilli Hollandaise
Ok, now you must remember that this, is a side dish, yes a side dish! But just look at that side dish.
Look at those fresh asparagus and by the way it tasted as good as it looked!
The hollandaise sauce infused with chilli was a huge treat, I wanted to know if I could by it by the pot!
Back to an item from the small dishes, tuna tataki.
If there was one item that was going to intrigue it was going to be this. Tuna tataki is very very lightly seared tuna fish, with a special dressing that is served rare.
Quite often it is dressed with plain ginger sauce but here you get the freshness combined with wasabi, pickled ginger and toasted sesame.
It was an explosion of lovely tastes and spice in the mouth. The really fresh fish and those ingredients made this go from one of the most intriguing of me to try and to a favourite with the others.
Sticky Soy Short Rib Bao Buns
Well, if there was ever an event to lead up to then these little devils were worth every minute of wait.
Short rob inside a gorgeous sticky soy sauce and wrapped and presented wonderfully in Bao Buns.
They are so so moreish! Really really moreish. Did I say they were moreish?
These soft bao buns were perfection on their own, I shall be trying another of their bao bun dishes for sure next time.
Truffle Oil and Parmesan French Fries
Oh what side to have with them? The choice of starters at Botanica reads like a lovely menu in itself.
Lobster mac & cheese. Truffle mash. Tenderstem broccoli and toasted almonds….. need I go on?
There are various options for fries and chips as sides but these truffle and parmesan fries are a top tip. The chips cooked perfect with those great flavours mixed in. yummy.
Ok, the staff from top to bottom deserve a special mention here as it is perhaps the reason I kept returning from my initial visit years ago. They are so very friendly, happy, professional, warm and welcoming. They are a joy.
Linda, the manager, sees you entering and the great welcome is instant. An truly infectious personality that really wants you to be a comfortable and happy customer.
The warm welcome continues all the way through the experience with the waiting staff and bar staff. The way I find I enjoy it. Always happy to help when required and service with a natural smile. You can tell they enjoy working there.
The chefs are more than happy to hear about your experience of the food if you so wish. They really do want to learn how people think of each dish and listen intently.
Kirkby Lonsdale is a great place to visit in itself but this gives me extra incentive to go there time and time again.
I was there for the evening menu but if you are in the area then I can also vouch for the brunch and daytime menus.
The decor and welcome combined with the great fresh food makes Botanica an absolute hidden gem that deserves to be found.