Chelsea is more than just a destination, it's something of a lifestyle; and from my visit this weekend, an inherently luxe one at that. Epitomising everything that this overtly ostentatious area has to boast, there's one dining destination that belongs to the groomed guys and gals of Sloane Square thanks to its plush plates and resplendent interiors.
A more intimate venue than some might suspect, the dining area and bar space at The Botanist weren't grandiose in size, but they sure were in taste. While the main bar is lovingly pushed into the palatial with mirrors and mustard tones, the dining area was classicism blended with botany. A grand wall of Victorian etched, antiquarian inspired animals overlooks contemporary chandeliers, latte tones and intimate dining tables. All offset by broad windows that open out on to the street side bar tables, hawking a gander over Sloane Square itself as some of the city's most prominent sally on by.
The Food and Drink
Torn over a cocktail menu where every glass appeared to be doused in only the finest of liquors and liquids, we finally agreed on the Botanist Sour with Portabello gin, apple, elderflower and egg white, and an Alexander Bell with Balentine's, creme de cacao, oloroso and cream, both at £10.50. A punchy and refreshing treat followed by a rich drink of cassonade, The Botanist's interior elegance is more than matched by it's cocktail menu.
But, like their reputation deservedly suggests, it's dinner where The Botanist shines. While my starter of Scottish salmon, horseradish cream and soda bread was simplicity refined with sapid capers at a reasonable £11.50, it was a uniquely meaty main that changed my perspective on fish. While fish is the light option, - the 'oh but dear, I had a terribly bold steak last night, I need something a tad fresher' option - my Monkfish main was as bold as the sirloin sat on the table next to me. Set atop chanterelle mushrooms on a bed of petite onions and potatoes, this seasonal special (not found on their main menu), made a mark for quintessentially British meals at just under £30. Served alongside a glass of champagne and a waitress selected bottle of wine, service at The Botanist was clearly as impeccable as their plates.
Dressing up will forever be the new dressing down in Chelsea, where even the most relaxed enviroment makes for a markedly knockout selection of guests. If I wasn't tucked up between tailored suits and LBD's, I was shuffling between a crowd of cropped curls and silk culottes. A clientele that really epitomised after work drinking and dining in West London, let me be your dress code harbinger: dress up to chow down. It matches the luxe atmosphere, makes you feel a million bucks because heck knows you look it - and you'll feel a tad out of place if not.
The Botanist is everything you'd expect from a restaurant in Chelsea, tustling between affluential classicism and the city's cosmopolitan. And while East, or even North London's patrons might miss the industrial innards of 'now', there needs to be restaurant bars like The Botanist in London, for where else would you propose, impress or give your bank account a good bashing in the name of divine dinner plates and discerning cocktails?