A regular hangout spot for Colombo's zesty coteries, Botanik boasts an eclectic and well maintained bistro-bar that keeps people coming in by the droves on the weekends. Also weekdays. No kidding, their executive lunches are famous now and lots of people flock to Hospital Street to enjoy their cocktails.
We stepped in for a bit of frisking and frolicking and while they excelled in all other aspects- their service could certainly improve.
At 10:30PM we didn't quite feel like having a full on meal, so we just settled for two plates of finger food to go with our drinks. What we orderd was nothing too complicated, but it took a good 15-20 minutes to arrive which I couldn't quite make head or tail of. Let's take a look.
The Prawn Toast (Rs. 850) comes with 5 triangles of, well, prawn toast. It's an ingenious dish really- it's literally just sandwich slices with prawn filling toasted until golden brown and then coated with black and white sesame seeds on the side for added effect. Also served with a bowl of sweet chilli sauce which strangely had no taste whatsoever.
The toast itself makes for great finger food, but it's expensive and also isn't very flavourful despite having quite a few components at play. The undeniable taste of prawn came through, the bread was crunchy, but it was still bland. Perhaps try salting it a bit more?
The Chips and Dips (Rs. 500) was a bit boring. It was literally just very thinly sliced and fried manioc chips with a guacamole and harissa hummus dip as accompaniment. Their menu also says 'wonton skins' but we had no idea where the wonton skins were. Unless the chips themselves were made of wonton skins, in which case it would have been horrifying.
The chips were tasty okay, but this dish was so boring I didn't feel like eating it. The dips were great, though. You can't go too wrong with guac and hummus, so good job I guess.
In terms of food overall, we've heard people raving about Botanik's chefs, innovative cuisine yada yada but like, none of it shows in the snacks section of their menu. But take this Roast Mahi Mahi (Rs. 1200) I had a few months ago for example- looks deceptively simple but oh god was it good. I just wish their entire menu was on the same level, y'know?
This was a ridiculously delicious dish with bonito butter, long green beans, caramelised onion puree and a gigantic slab of the freshest Mahi Mahi EVER. The whole thing was just a symphony of flavour that'll tease your taste buds ruthlessly until you've gobbled up every last bite before realising it- leaving you feverishly drooling for more.
Enough about the food now, let's move on to the drinks. I wanted more than anything to try their Tamarind cocktail, but they told me to order something else. Why? They were running out of coconut cream lu.
Uh, okay? So if you're running out of coconut cream, it doesn't mean you've ALREADY RUN OUT, no? I don't know man, but that excuse ticked me off a bit.
I settled for the Strawberry cocktail (Rs. 900). A glass filled halfway through with Sauvignon Blanc, Rosso Vermouth, Peach (syrup I'm assuming), basil leaves, sliced strawberries and lots of ice. Safe to say this was a delicious drink. It was tart and refreshing- plus you get to dig around for the strawberry slices if you want a snack.
My partner was severely adverse to it though, and kept telling me it was like 'drinking a pizza' because of the basil leaves, but oh well. C'est la vie.
After that rather odd remark, my partner decided to order a shot of Jack Daniels whiskey and coke. Boring. 100% delicious, but still boring. But still delicious. Can't go wrong with some good old Jack and coke.
It's safe to say that Botanik's cocktails and drinks menu isn't sub-par. Their drinks are great. Highly recommend a cocktail here if you're in the area.
The ambience is why most people go here- if not for the drinks. The dining area is beautiful, with lots of plants everywhere and a mural of plants on the wall in case there isn't enough greenery for customers to enjoy.
The bar area is even prettier, with a great view of the WTC for your viewing pleasure and lots of other high rises so you can spy on all the windows when you're a bit tipsy and try to catch people in the act of uh, cleaning or whatever. Makes for a cool drinking game. I'm joking. Or am I?
The service is a bit testing. The waiters are nice, they're very friendly but god is it difficult to get a hold of them. They also seemed quite invested in serving most of the tourists while we had to stand aside awkwardly.
What I disliked was that they weren't accommodating- or at least they didn't try to. We requested a table once there was an available one and I saw them go ahead and seat a couple who just walked in (no reservations, I have a sharp eye). Despite hearing many of their patrons rave about how accommodating they are, we didn't quite get to experience this level of service, so perhaps I ought to garner a bit of publicity and then go back?
Look, many people like Botanik. It's so popular now that it's starting to get infiltrated by the youth of Colombo. Lots of small boys there eyeing you up and down.
Our experience wasn't the best of the best, but their drinks are great. Perhaps reserve a table at the bar? Or have a drink and bounce. Music is top notch, too.
Botanik has a lot of popular reviews, but they only serve people based on judgement and assumption.
Botanik is already the most buzzing spot in Colombo. It is a great experience but the food has room to improve.