Bianca: Much like the rest of Sydney, we’d been ogling the chic, botanical vibe at Botanica Vaucluse since they re-branded from Sol Botanica earlier this year. Think prominent whites, floor to ceiling windows, striking botanical themed wallpaper and THOSE pink chairs!
You’ll see the phrase ‘Farm to table’ in almost every media mention, with the majority of the ingredients sourced from the South coast of NSW, Jamberoo Valley as well as the restaurant’s gardens.
I was a little perplexed by its location, at the rear of the Mark Moran retirement village complex. But no quibble here, the fabulous oldies should eat in style! I do admire the seasonality of the menu, a plus for repeat diners.
If you spend a great deal of time daydreaming of another life, sipping cocktails and tanning the assets, you’ll appreciate the Rum and Passion – w/dark spiced rum, passionfruit liquor & pineapple juice $18. Summer in a glass is fairly apt, I adore rum and this was perfectly balanced and tropical.
I highly recommend a serving of the Botanica teff & quinoa bread -w/EVOO & Pepe Saya Butter $3.60 pp. Served warm, this is a bread roll to get excited about, not a sentence you come across often but then I’m a little strange and excitable when it comes to carbs.
Entrees are fairly sea-food heavy but you won’t want to miss the Crisp Fried Octopus, Coriander Mojo Verde dressing, finger lime. I adored this dish, the octopus incredibly tender, the paper thin crispy coating, almost tempura-like, added texture as well as being excellently seasoned. There was a welcome sharpness to the herbaceous dressing and a citrus twang from the lemon shavings and the finger lime pearls.
The Slow Roast Butternut Pumpkin -w/ tahini, sunflower seeds & sumac $18 seemingly looked like a jacket potato but splitting this in half revealed the telltale orange hue. Creamy with a prominent ‘roast’ flavour, we loved the textural elements of the micro herbs and seeds.
Celebrating and highlighting top quality ingredients is at the core of Botanica’s ethos. Definitely, a point of interest when it came to our chosen mains. Perhaps homely but not compromising in flavour or presentation.
Sweet Potato Gnocchi -w/ soft goats cheese, pesto & baby leeks $34 really pushed the flavour stakes. My Nonna’s gnocchi is mostly unrivalled but the use of sweet potato was interesting. These were soft and melted in the mouth, I typically shy away from goats cheese but I adored the slightly caramelised edges that melded several of the gnocchi together. And seriously, charred leeks are one of my favourite vegetables, still retaining that sweetness but dialling the flavour up several notches.
O’Connor Pasture-raised Beef Sirloin, Red wine butter & preserved Orange Salad $38 will satisfy those carnivore desires. The beef, a perfect medium rare, seasoned well and tender. I did appreciate the sauce on the side, perfect to mop the beef and have a little dippy dip of THOSE amazing chips! The charred onion added some sweetness but the orange salad seemed to have been substituted for cavolo nero, which I found a little too ‘course’ for this dish.
Please spring for the Hand cut chips w/aioli $11, I’d eat the whole bowl and make no apologies. Speckled with parmesan and toasted fennel seeds, these are up there for some of the best in Sydney.
Engaging those pesky / life saving second stomachs, my lady date Ameriza and I perused the dessert menu. I instantly zeroed in on the chocolate dessert but I was a little defeated. Opting instead for slightly lighter options.
The Strawberry Gelato, Champagne Jelly & Raspberry $16 is pretty as a picture, refined to a T. But completely lost on me. I enjoyed the flavour of the gelato but struggled with the varying textures, just not for me.
The Pear & Praline Parfait, Chocolate, Macadamia Biscuit $16 on the other hand, utterly divine. Cracking open the chocolate dome revealed an almost caramel-esque parfait. The pear, steeped in syrup, added some lightness. Texturally there was a lot going on but each bite delivered a unique taste and texture.
Some hit and miss dishes but I do recommend a visit, for the Instagram photo at the very least!