Botanist – New Year’s Eve Disappointment as Always

I have never been to a New Year’s Eve event and walked away feeling satisfied. They are expensive, overpromise and underdeliver. Because of this, I stopped going to NYE events a long time ago. For NYE 2020, I decided to book the NYE Tasting Menu dinner at Botanist. After all, it was just dinner, what could go wrong? There was no promise of an amazing party, and due to the pandemic, this was fine. However, as in previous years, I walked away underwhelmed.

The menu looked good. Expensive at $148 pp, but as readers of this blog know, I am willing to pay for service, experience and quality. As a result, I will rarely mention prices in my posts unless of course, I believe the price charged does not match what was provided. Unfortunately, this was the case here. To be fair, the staff were dealing with a lot of last minute stress due to the pandemic. For example, the government, the day before, decided to cut off liquor service at 8PM.

Our original reservation time was at 8PM, so they called and we were able to switch to 7PM, which would give 2 hours to finish the meal with alcohol (8PM last order, drinks on the table until 9PM).

We arrived and were seated shortly after. Then we waited about 30+ minutes to get drinks and even water to the table. The dinner was already not starting off well.

The first course was snow crab with celery sorbet. This was ok. However, this was considered the amuse, and at this price point, most places will provided additional amuse or some “snacks”. Also, most places at this level will start off with a “bang” and set the tone for the rest of the meal.

The next dish was not good. Red apple salad with shave foie gras and honey. The apples were so sour they overpowered everything else. I was surprised that the kitchen put this dish out. Anyone tasting the apples before serving them would of rejected the apples. I could not taste anything else in the dish as the apples were so sour.

The next dish sounded amazing on paper, but was not well executed. Uni, lobster glace, cured egg, and homemade pasta. The dish was underseasoned, and there was no lobster or uni taste coming through. The pasta was overcooked.

The fish course was salmon, with truffles, mustard and onions. The salmon was cooked perfect, but there was something in the dish that did not work well and tasted off. Also, throughout the meal, the service was extremely slow to the point where I had to wonder if we would have to down the bottle of wine before 9PM arrived and dinner was still being served. It was the kind of slow where I started to wonder if they forgot about us and makes the meal less enjoyable.

The last two courses were pretty good. The lamb was cooked well and delicious.

…and the dessert was pretty good also.

With drinks, this meal came to about $2,000 for 5 people. There are better options in this city for less $, better service and better food. Out of 6 courses, 2 were good, one was ok, and 3 were not good. The service was very slow. Even at the end, it took forever to get the check. I would not return. There was also nothing that made this a “New Year Event”. At Victor, they provided fun games at the table during Christmas Eve dinner. The restaurant and hotel in general, are a nice place to come for drinks and check out the “scene”, but the service has always been lacking. More style than substance.

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