Week 2 saw us dine at The Botanist in Kirribilli, just over the Sydney Harbour Bridge to the north. It has a great menu for potential visitors and selections that carry over to those eating at similar places worldwide.
Taste – 7
Budget – medium
Service – 9
Ambience – 8
Extra mile- 7
*Scores are out of 10
The Botanist: Overall rating – 39/50 on a medium budget
To say that Kirribilli is excited about having a funky new restaurant/small bar in its midst is an understatement, or maybe it’s a testament to the owners for creating a cool place to hang out, with equally cool cocktails and food. The restaurant that I speak of is The Botanist, named as such because of the old botanist Gerard Fothergill, who ran a book store on that site, til his death in 1932.
On the day that MC and I went it just happened to be Australia’s hottest day…ever…and at 6 pm that night it was a balmy (ahem) 42 degrees; so needless to say our thoughts were primary around survival and then food.
The Botanist provided a welcome reprieve (but I’m sure anywhere with air-con would’ve been a winner that night!), and since it is decorated with many palms and green things, we felt like we were ‘well grounded’ and ‘earthy’ (MC’s words not mine – I think the heat was really getting to him).
The Botanist has two parts to its menu – the typical Australian fare, which has Sliders (fancy mini-burgers), pizzas, olives and share plates, and a tapas menu. The Tapas menu is not extensive, however, what is on it makes up for the lack of selection.
We went for a lamb salad, octopus salad, tuna tataki and a chicken curry. Each tapas plate is around $18, and 4 was more than enough for MC and I.
Since the chef has worked in fine dining, he is accustomed to only using the highest quality ingredients, and it’s pretty evident in the taste of each dish. The flavours are fresh and tasty, without there being huge amounts of dressing drowning the dishes. Perfect for those of you who are on a maintenance or fat loss regime.
MC and I were in no hurry to get back out into the heat, and as such we took our time with our meal and were enjoying each others company. Now as romantic as that sounds, eating slower, chewing food properly, and being relaxed whilst doing so has many health benefits. If you want to improve digestion, and drop some body fat then addressing how you eat is the first step. Too many people inhale their food as if they are never going to be fed again – I’m sure we have all been guilty of that at some stage, however food that has not been chewed and broken down properly can lead to a host of issues, such as bloating, cramping, and non-absorption of nutrients (none of which are conducive to a happy healthy body). Gut health is vital for overall well being, and it starts with mastication (cue MC boyish laughter).
Be mindful when you eat, actually take the time to relax and really taste the food. When you are not present to your meal (sounds a little hippie I know but bare with me), you will end up overeating, and if you are distracted and stressed you are in the Sympathetic Nervous System which shuts down digestion. When you are relaxed your Parasympathetic Nervous System is being utilised, which promotes digestion and repair, which means your body can take on the appropriate nutrients and you end up with a much happier gut (no bloating means that you don’t have to pretend to suck your tummy in!).
Key take home point: make sure you are relaxed and clam when you eat, chew your food well and you’ll ensure your gut has the best chance to help your body peak.
So overall The Botanist is a winner for me, and no doubt will become a regular for us. Whilst we didn’t crack into the yummy looking cocktail list (it was a school night after all), I did spy a Vanilla Espresso Martini which has my name written all over it. Bring it on, I say.
Right, Ok, what do I have left to say then, I think NN has basically done the job.
Ah, yes, I remember. The Botanist is awesome. We have been there before, when it opened. We definitely got caught up in the ‘Hey we’re a slightly swanky new bar and we’re opening’ buzz.
In fact the reason we went this time was due to that occasion- it’s good! Really good.
Obviously the prices mean we won’t be going there all the time, but the total bill for 4 dishes of just under $80 isn’t too bad for a night out in Sydney. The setting is cool, the staff are awesome and they played more awesome kiwi music than anything else!
As NN mentioned the menu is small yet effective. There are some great options on there for the health and body conscious person. In case you had forgotten, that’s us, and mostly likely you. Hey..? However, the selection carries with it some great little dishes and the salads and small tapas plates of mostly meats with smaller salads are a great starting point, and a flavour winner.
We ordered the African chicken curry which came with rice. We asked for the curry to come out last, a purposeful request and this is a very good tip; always fill up on salad first before getting some of the heavier dishes so that you are less likely to eat as much of the heavier foods, in this case the rice.
I say this because we choose to keep our rice consumption pretty low in general. It might sneak in on occasion, but with a tactic like this, we ensure that this grain doesn’t go causing us any bloating, gut issues and subsequent digestion and body composition problems. Instead we mostly use starchy carb options like quinoa, sweet potato, beetroot and carrots.
Outside of this, tapas restaurants like The Botanist can be an awesome dining and healthy food experience. Just make sure you look for mostly protein based dishes that either come with greens and vegetables, or include some of the vegetable dishes with your order and a simple side salad which is pretty damn standard these days.
Of course if you’re a guy looking to get a bigger physique, and lean of course, or perhaps an athlete or have a high training volume then go for some of the starchy options. Just ensure they are secondary to your quality protein choices and plenty of greens. Remember that good fats like extra virgin olive oil and butter will help you digest the nutrient from your vegetables, and the greens will help your body to be an efficient and lean machine.
If you’re wanting to drop body fat then ensure you ask what’s in the sauces and dressings and get it on the side or without if it’s heavily sugared, or contains vegetable oils (the bad kind-avoid).
Key take home point: if ordering dishes involving starchy options, get them last or have a small salad to start. Where possible leave out starchy options such as bread, pasta, rice, white potatoes and noodles.
As for The Botanist; a great date joint and spot to grab a light and healthy and tasty meal. I have looked at a couple of online reviews and they say some different things, but then they’re usually ridiculous and picky. We’re not necessarily looking for fancy and amazingly designed meals, but ones that taste superb and meet our nutritional criteria. Just avoid the pizzas and sliders. For that the Botanist get’s a tick.
Well, that’s two weeks. I can safely say I don’t feel as daunted by the idea of these 52 weeks as I did the last 52. Mainly because I get to go out and have dinner with my girl at least once every week. That’s not a bad prospect. Plus I get to bring the fury on any restaurants I don’t like- awesome!
Next week: no Idea. But we’ll endeavour to make sure it isn’t a simple ‘The ……..’
A loose promise.
Oh, yeah, and I laughed at mastication.
These two guys, who happen to be smiling because we both featured in the magazines we’re holding. The current editions of each. Yes- massive fitness geeks…
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