The local elections back in May were responsible for my having to turn down invitations to many local events I really wanted to attend.
Chief amongst these was the grand party to celebrate the reopening of The Botanist - a pub I had wanted to visit for ages.
It was well known among members of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) for brewing its own beer and had closed after previous owner Convivial was taken over by Mitchells and Butler.
A major refurbishment followed lasting many months but sadly also led to the removal of the brewery.
However, in its place punters were promised a proper pub serving honest British food and a fantastic range of draught beers, cask ales, quality wines and ciders.
So accompanied by a friend from work it was with some excitement that I stepped through the newly polished doors of the Kew Green venue to find an open and welcoming interior to match the bright and stylish exterior located only short step and a hop from the entrance to Kew Gardens.
I wasn’t expecting the place to be busy given it was 6pm on a Thursday but there was still a nice atmosphere - which was only slightly hampered by the occasional roar from passionate football fans watching the World Cup on the pub’s TV.
With a welcome jug of ice water and even more welcome bottle of excellent Les Collinetes sancerre (£27.50) on the go we turned attentions away from Germany v USA and to the menu.
As promised all of the dishes were very British sounding but some of the ingredients like chorizo, focaccia, and Paris brown mushrooms hinted at a welcome foreign twist.
Despite the heat of the day I felt in the mood for soup so went for pea and watercress - a rich and creamy broth served with a lovely hunk of rye bread and butter (£5.75) while my colleague had mushrooms on toast (£6.25).
In retrospect this was a bit of a mistake as it turned out to be a massive portion of oyster, flat and paris brown fungi piled on a thick wedge of rye toast that was so filling it overwhelmed her appetite at the very first hurdle!
No such problems affected my own constitution so I happily plumped for a main course of pork and chorizo burger, with caramelised onion jam, fries and house relish (£12.50) and added some bacon jam for £2 extra because, basically I wanted to know what it was!
My friend’s appetite rallied sufficiently for her to choose a hearty slow cooked beef and ale pie with mash and seasonal vegetables (£12.75) which she insists was delicious even though she couldn’t finish it. In fairness she managed well over half of what was another hefty portion of food.
The burger was meaty, juicy and the onion jam gave it a lovely sweet edge - but I’m still none the wiser as to what bacon jam was or is as I couldn’t rightly identify it alongside all the other ingredients!
My colleague only had room left for a small bowl of ice cream for dessert but I remained unbowed and chose lemon and lime crumble tart with raspberry sorbet (£5.50) which refreshed my mouth and put a real zing in my step as we departed.
Having not known the pub before it changed hands I’m not really in a position to compare, but as far as I’m concerned what it is now is a perfectly fine and accomplished gastro pub which is in a hugely desireable location.
The staff were polite and friendly and the service quick and efficient. The prices are on the high side, but I would only complain if - having eaten everything we did - you left still hungry.