REVIEW: The Botanist, Monument Mall, Newcastle

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WITH uninterrupted views of the imposing Grey’s Monument, down the sweeping facade of the Earl’s namesake street, you’d be hard pushed to find a better vista in Newcastle than that at The Botanist.

Queues regularly form at the entrance to this latest addition to the multi-million pound development of Monument Mall and it’s easy to see why.

Though the low key main door may be tucked down a side street, the venue opens up into a striking, large bar and restaurant spanning two floors.

Gone are the footy strips once sold on this site when it was a sports shop, to be replaced by a theme that, as the title would suggest, brings the outdoors in.

A large, twisting, tree reaches up into a domed skylight, trailing ivy weaves its way around banisters and the drinks menu is inspired by

plants, such as chilli and chive martini (£6.95) and whisky thyme (£7.95).

For those who like their drinks less flowery, there’s also craft ales and beers to wet your whistle.

Food is served in a separate seating area, away from the hustle and bustle of the bar.

The menu’s an enjoyable read with plenty of novel additions to get your mouth watering, such as Welsh rarebit fondue (£4.95) and hanging kebabs – I’ll get to those later.

I chose from The Botanist deli board section, priced £9.75, where you can tailor your meal by selecting four items from a list incorporating tastebud ticklers such as Scotch egg and piccalilli, chorizo and pomegranate and mint cous cous.

I went with the olives, Greek salad, Parma ham and Lancashire cheese, which were served on a chunky wooden board with a Turkish flatbread. It was light but perfectly satisfying for lunch, leaving me just enough room for pudding.

Hanging kebabs are a signature dish at The Botanist. You can have them for mains as a halloumi, meat or prawn option, starting from £9.95, or as a sweet version (£4.95).

“How is it a hanging kebab?” we asked our enthusiastically attentive waitress. We soon found out.

My strawberries and marshmallows were served skewered on a vertical iron contraption. At the top was a satisfying gloop of chocolate sauce, with a kick of Sailor Jerry’s, which was gradually slithering its way down the kebab, smothering it en route to a scoop of ice cream in a bowl at the base.

It looked great, it tasted even better. Don’t hang around, you need to try this dish.