Being a food blogger must be associated with a stereotype of gluttony. I do admit I love food and get more excited reading about a slab of slow cooked ribs than any amount of designer clothing items on sale. However, I 'think' that during the week aka my time off from restauranting, I manage to stay relatively healthy. I've developed some kind of health quack reputation with my family where according to mum, every week I start preaching a new fad I've read, be it anti-fructose, Paleo, Atkins, blood type diet etc.
Whilst the notion of raw food, vegan and vegetarian might seem off-putting to most (especially the typical Aussie male), when I heard that was what was on offer at Botanica, it really sparked my interest. I read about the little eatery on The Urban List here. It seemed like a trendy joint and married my 2 interests of 'eating out' and 'clean food'. That's quite a rarity, considering the amount of butter/flour/sugar that goes into regular restaurant and cafe food.
I'm not sure why but I planned to have lunch at Botanica out. I knew that it was a takeaway establishment but I figured there would still be a place to eat on site. There isn't. It's a small shop that's fairly bare and features a long bench in the centre ladden with the day's fresh salads and treats. You order what you want to try in different sized takeaway containers and then... you take it away. To home, I suppose.
Since I wasn't planning to go home, I ended up unravelling my little box in the carpark out the back, eating off my lap. Not the most glamorous of locations but still perfectly serviceable.
None of the food at Botanica had labels describing what they were. Everything looked vibrant, fresh and appealing though so I selected on sight and ordered with points saying "this one" and "that one". I ended up getting a small container with 2 different salads.
Sitting in my car, it became a Masterchef taste test challenge where I tried to guess what I was eating. I had a look at the Botanica website hoping for menu descriptions but their menu changes daily and I didn't see anything that described what I'd chosen. What I've written below may not be strictly correct but I did try!!
Raw broccoli salad and Iranian cous cous and sweet potato salad
The first food item that caught my eye was a raw broccoli salad. The broccoli was thinly sliced and had a nice crunchiness. It was combined with almonds and sour cherries (which I thought was a brilliant flavor and texture collaboration) tossed through some kind of mild, milky dressing.
The second salad featured large beads of Iranian cous cous with sweet potato chunks, glazed capsicum and shallots, baby spinach and brussel sprouts. The dressing was oil-based and seemed to be flavored with herbs. I may have detected dill?
I really enjoyed both my salads. Salads, vegetables, leaves and greens constitutes a big part of my weekday diet. Even at restaurants and cafes, it's rare to see something innovative and outside the box. The 2 I tried at Botanica were both very 'different' and in my opinion, shows how choosing vegetarian doesn't necessarily imply a huge compromise of taste. I loved that the salads demonstrated a play in textures that made each bite pop.
I though Botanica was a win, both conceptually and for its food. I saw on the website that they offer sweets too. I didn't notice any when I went (got there late afternoon) but if I did I definitely would have scooped some up. This is the kind of place I'd go every day if I lived near by and wouldn't worry about cooking ever again. I still wish there were some booth seats at the window... just so us sad folk who had to travel a long way to try their food could dip in right then and there.