Restaurant review

Botanist Ipswich Restaurant Review 2022

Last week, I finally had time to check out the current talk of the town – The Botanist.

Over the past few months, Ipswich has been abuzz with rumors about when this new restaurant and bar (part of an upmarket national chain) will finally open, and I was really excited to find out what he had to offer.

Fortunately, The Botanist finally opened its doors earlier this month – and it’s already a huge success. I’ve heard so many people talk about it, saying it’s definitely top of their list for their next foodie night.


The Botanist at Ipswich
– Credit: Danielle Lett

The reservations speak for themselves. I couldn’t get a table for the next few weekends. So 8 p.m. on a Tuesday was then.

As my mom and I walked inside, we both marveled at what they had done to the place. Anyone who has ever been to Ipswich knows what an iconic building the Old Post Office is.

It sits on the Cornhill in the center of town and dates back to the late 19th century. Grade II listed, it survived two world wars before closing in 2015.

So to see it in use again was great – and the decor is really tasteful, to say the least.

Think freshly painted white walls, adorned with murals of plants and leaves reaching to the ceiling. Low, warm lights are dotted throughout, and framed leaves and pressed flowers are scattered on the walls. A number of tall and towering faux trees really make you feel like you’re in a secret garden. The place oozes luxury and I was delighted to see the food and drink keeping up.


The Botanist on Cornhill from Ipswich

The Botanist on Cornhill from Ipswich
– Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Upon entering, the bar is straight ahead. Fully stocked with bottles galore, we knew we had to order a cocktail once seated.

We actually arrived 15 minutes early, and when we arrived our table wasn’t ready yet. No bother, we said, we’ll just head to the bar and have a quick drink. I opted for a half pint of Budweiser and my mum had a lemonade, which came to £5.50 in total.

As soon as we got our drinks our table was ready and we were taken to the seating area at the back of the restaurant.

The place was buzzing with chatter. Almost all the tables were taken and the atmosphere was excellent. People happily ate their dishes and toasted. I had never seen such a busy place on a weekday (especially not so close to payday).


Inside the botanist

Inside the botanist
– Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

To start, we opted for the hot plank (£16.50) – which included tater tot poutine, lamb koftas, Cumberland Scotch egg, whole garlic prawns, baked camembert with prosciutto and a piece of fresh bread. Unfortunately they were out of Camembert, but the waiter said we could add anything else to the menu platter of appetizers and starters, free of charge. So we opted for the crispy oyster mushrooms, which sounded amazing.

For me, the stars had to be the Crispy Oyster Mushrooms and the Cumberland Scotch Egg. The mushrooms were crispy and filled with savory flavors. Wrapped in polenta, they came with a truffle mustard mayo – I probably could have eaten another serving (or five). And the Scotch egg was delicious – the sausage meat was perfectly seasoned and the egg was runny. What more could you ask for?


The botanist's hot board

The botanist’s hot board
– Credit: Danielle Lett

The garlic prawns were a bit of a treat and my mum loved them – she made sure nothing went to waste by mopping up the leftover garlic oil with the hot bread.

Both lamb koftas were lovely and once again packed with a little kick of spice. And I really enjoyed the tater tot poutine. I was expecting, as the name suggests, them to be coated in cheese curds, and I’m pretty sure it was cheddar on top. But it was still crispy and delicious.

Perfect for two, this sharing board really ticked all the boxes and provided lots of variety. I highly recommend ordering one – and for all the non-meat eaters there is also a vegan board as an alternative.

My only minor criticism with the starter (besides not having camembert) was the fact that we weren’t given small plates when our board arrived, and we had to wait 10 minutes before they don’t come back and bring some. That didn’t stop us from going straight back, though.

For our main courses, I had the fragrant curry (£12.95), and mum went for one of the restaurant’s famous hanging kebabs, ordering the lamb kofta (£13.95).

My curry was divine. The bowl was filled with salt and pepper rice noodles, sliced ​​pork belly, prawns, chunks of tofu and mangetout, all covered in a light curry sauce. It was filling and mixing pork and prawns is a perfect dish for me. I would definitely get it again.


Fragrant curry

Fragrant curry
– Credit: Danielle Lett

Mom’s hanging lamb kofta kebab was marinated in Middle Eastern spices, coated in harissa jam with garlic oil and separated with chunks of red pepper and onion. It came with a side of seasoned fries underneath and looked great. She said it was delicious and not greasy (which can be a problem when ordering lamb), but it was a little inconvenient to eat without a plate.

Other main menu items include steak, stout and stilton pie, seared sea bass and a crispy chicken burger.


A hanging lamb kebab

A hanging lamb kebab
– Credit: Danielle Lett

Along with our main courses, we also ordered a few cocktails. After all, The Botanist prides itself on what it calls its eponymous “botanical cocktails” – it would be rude not to.

If you browse the menu, you’ll find a whole host of cocktails categorized into sections such as ‘Fruits and Flowers’, ‘Fresh and Herbs’ and ‘Citrus and Spices’, a few of which are labeled as ‘Bartender Recommended’. . We both wanted to try one of the specials so I ordered a Berry Colada (£8.50) and Mom a Botanist Porn Star (£9.95). Fruity and flavorful, they were extremely refreshing, but not overpowering.


Botanist porn star and a Berry Colada

Botanist porn star and a Berry Colada
– Credit: Danielle Lett

At this point, we were absolutely stuffed. But we had room to squeeze in a dessert to share. There’s plenty of variety, so whether you want something sweet and fruity, or rich and chocolatey, all the bases are covered. We opted for the chocolate brownie fudge (£6.95), served warm with a salted peanut sauce and vanilla ice cream. A few bites and I was done, but it was so rich and richer. I wish I hadn’t been so full – otherwise I could have emptied the bowl.


Chocolate Brownie Fudge

Chocolate Brownie Fudge
– Credit: Danielle Lett

Overall the food and drinks were great. My favorite had to be the sharing platter, it really had an interesting mix of dishes and was a nice change from the usual olives, cheese and tapas, or fried sharing platters you get in many places.

However, my only criticism would be the slow service. Between courses the staff were not very attentive and it took us a while to place our orders – especially as the night progressed and the number of people dwindled. We weren’t checked in often and waited about 20 minutes for the bill when we had clearly finished our food and drinks.

Also they didn’t ask if we wanted water for the table when we sat down which I thought was weird. I don’t think you should have to ask this, especially as the weather is starting to warm up.


Inside the botanist

Inside the botanist
– Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

One thing I would like to applaud though is how, in line with recent government guidelines that all menus across England must display the calorie count for each dish, The Botanist has theirs in a very fine gray font and subtle. So it’s there – but not in the face if you want to enjoy your evening without worrying about whether to order that dessert or not.

All in all, I would definitely recommend The Botanist. Our bill came to (£74.30) which I would say is excellent value, especially when the restaurant itself looks and feels really upscale. Whether you want a full three-course meal or a few drinks and nibbles, you’re spoiled for choice and you won’t leave hungry. I am already planning my next visit.