There are few places quite like this one that offer a sanctuary escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Vaucluse has won the culinary and wellness lottery with the opening of The Botanica earlier this month – a farm-to-table restaurant and organic spa that’s catering for mimosas and massages under the one roof.
From the moment the cascading succulents and more lush greenery than any fairy garden fantasy surround you on arrival, it is safe to say there’ll be a few ‘wows’ from the crowd. The airy space is blessed with an abundance of natural light pouring through the floor to ceiling windows that make the hanging ferns and dusty pink statement furniture that much more spectacular. Outside, it’s all about the gardens, with citrus trees and berry bushes to boot.
This focus on the natural translates to the kitchen, where Executive Chef Perry Hill’s commitment to the natural progression and simplicity of seasonal flavours is evident in the menu. Each dish is built around produce delivered fresh from The Botanica’s sister farm in Jamberoo Valley. Just two hours down the coast, it’s a quick trip from the ground directly to your plate, and Perry and the team make sure it’s done in style.
You’re looking at a handful of fanciful breakfast dishes like snapper crab and chive omelettes with salmon caviar, or baked eggs with scampi, lemon and drill crème fraiche to start you off. When lunch and dinner roll around, the emphasis on the ingredients is bumped up a notch, with each dish focusing on three or four components to a plate. Think slow roasted butternut pumpkin drizzled with tahini and sunflower seeds to start, followed up with pasture-raised beef sirloin from O’Connor Beef in Gippsland, served with red wine butter and charred onion.
There’s to be no glossing over of the drinks either. True to its name, The Botanica’s cocktails are a vision of floral charm topped with a handful of house-made goodies. Froze made with house-made lemon myrtle syrup and fresh berries will set you up for a fresh bev, or if you’re after something with a buzz, the Cold Drop Negroni couples the caffeine kick with a smooth blend of Cooper Gin, Regal Rogue Bold Red and Campari. If you’re into your wine, there are no shortage of whites, reds, roses and sparkling varieties to colour yourself happy – not to mention they’re all biodynamic, natural and organic.
Next door at Sol Spa, the emphasis remains on organic and natural processes. Every aspect of the experience, from herbal teas on arrival to facials using Mukti organics are well ingrained with a wellness focus. There’s also a range of Chinese healing and holistic therapies to take for a spin – if you find that it’s not your style, you can always pop next door and opt for a cocktail instead!
The Botanica may be a newcomer to the scene, but there’s no stopping the team who is already planning the opening of the next cafe and farm instalment. The adjoining cafe in Vaucluse and farmhouse in Jamberoo Valley are slated to open later in 2018. In the meantime, the recently opened restaurant and spa will be more than enough to keep you busy and draw you back for another visit or two.