IT’S a Tuesday night, it’s raining and I’m running late.
In the rush to meet my friend, I realise we haven’t actually decided on a place, and hurriedly look around for inspiration.
The Botanist is like a shining beacon in the night, drawing me in and saving me from the miserable weather.
Escaping from the rain, I walk into the warm, buzzing room to find it’s full of people.
A friendly waitress greets me with a smile and tells me there is a half-hour wait for a table.
I wasn’t really expecting that. It was a Tuesday night and the city centre seemed relatively quiet. But I wasn’t going back into the rain so I put my name down and dry off at the bar.
Turns out my friend is running even later than I am, so in anticipation of her arrival I order us two cocktails.
The Botanist is probably best known for its drinks, with its trendy bartenders able to create anything from a Mojito to a Manhattan.
There’s a live musician playing a great mix of old classics and modern hits on his acoustic guitar and his voice is genuinely impressive.
It makes for a lively, friendly atmosphere without being too loud or busy.
As my friend arrives, a waitress tells us the table is ready and we are taken through the dining area to the back.
There are long tables with wooden benches as well as smaller, more intimate tables.
As we squeeze past the diners, we notice almost everyone has a skewer hanging above their plates.
It’s particularly eye-catching and looks so delicious that I follow the trend and end up ordering one for myself.
There’s a choice of halloumi, lamb kofta, chicken, prawn or beef kebabs.
I go for the chicken kebab at £9.95, and after her initial disappointment that the chicken and mushroom pie had sold out, my dining companion has bangers and mash at £9.50.
There’s a good range of dishes, from steak sandwiches and lamb tagines to deli boards and salads, from £10 to £12.
The ‘hanging kebab’ arrives with mushrooms and peppers and is cooked in a sweet chilli and ginger sauce.
It has an accompanying pot of garlic butter to drizzle over it, plus a bowl of chips underneath to catch the sauce.
Garlic butter is a strange combination with sweet chilli but it was tasty nonetheless, and the chicken was cooked to perfection.
The bangers and mash were a hit, with the huge sausages accompanied by a perfect-sized jug of rich but light gravy.
The bill comes to £19.45 for what was a good, hearty meal.
And now it’s time to venture back into the rain again, it’s hard to pull ourselves away from the little hidden haven that is The Botanist.