Kirribilli has finally joined the small bar scene with the opening of The Botanist over the weekend. Opening in a space that has, at various times, been a post office, a lingerie bar and fine diner Milsons, the team that brought us Bondi Hardware (Ben Carroll and Hamish Watts) have opened the doors to The Botanist. “Hamish and I had been scouting for a venue for about eight months and always thinking about different things,” says Carroll of the space on Willoughby Road. “It took eight weeks from signing to final opening, and with the eight-week build we demolished pretty much everything.”
The new interiors are all courtesy of Carroll and Watts, and draw inspiration from historical botanist Gerard Fothergill, who reportedly spent the declining years of his life in the same spot. So expect to see detail with a botanical and exploratory theme. The travels of the illustrious botanist have also informed the drinks list (think botanical infusions) and the ‘global’ share menu from head chef Justin Walshe, who has also come from Bondi Hardware to join the team. Food includes sliders, pizzas, share dishes, salads and Mezze for groups. Flavours are inspired by Fothergill's travels (Sichuan pepper salted squid with chilli and lime, Tunisian spiced couscous), and there are cheese boards, dhal and olives for snacks.
But the yesteryear feel is also about acknowledging the rich history of Kirribilli, where co-owner Carroll was himself a resident for a decade.
“Until now, there hasn’t been a spot in Kirribilli for a casual mid-week catch up with friends,” says Carroll. “You’d have to drive to Neutral Bay for that.” And if the packed-out first weekend of trade was anything to go by, locals are pleased to see The Botanist taking up residence in Kirribilli once again.
17 Willoughby Street, Kirribilli
(02) 9954 4057
Daily from 4.30pm
(For now The Botanist is open evenings from 4.30pm. But lunches and weekend breakfasts will follow shortly.)