Friday, 16 October 2015

Lunch with a Victorian Botanist ...



And then there was lunch!  It was an incredibly hot day … so getting off our feet was a high priority … a large lunch is not my forte – but I love my food!


Part of the interior ... we were sitting on this raised platform

God-daughter wanted to try out the old National Provincial Bank, converted into a bar-restaurant: us oldies concurred!  The old bank was built in 1833, but in 1869 was refurbished to the grand Victorian façade of today … Corinthian columns, ceiling-high semi-circled topped windows.






An imposing building then … it still is … but now has a secret story … all contrived around the life of fictional Hettie G Watson, a Victorian botany scholar, whose wealthy father built the bank.

Our botanist: Hettie G Watson


It’s very clever – the story brings Hettie to life … albeit she does not, nor did, exist.  She appears on walls, the decorations all reflect botanical aspects … there’s a living wall with lots of shrubbery around.








The private room ... showing which countries of the
world Hettie has explored and the botanical
specimens she has found.
The space has been divided by Kai Design into a whimsical interior … the imagined world of a Victorian botanist:  A botanical library, a boardroom, a dining room, a bar, an Institute of Botanics and a secret emporium.









It feels cozy, yet there’s that expanse of space … we were on the raised platform … there’s a bar, perhaps the original cashier’s counter … Hettie has a board room available for special meetings.  While the secret emporium holds bell jars of potions and botanical oils, and where elixirs were served to all of Hettie’s guests.




The entrance - we were happily
drawn in ...


The new make-over for this bank as a cocktail bar-cum-dining experience suited us – we weren’t in the cocktail mode – but the food was excellent, as too the service.  We even survived a fire alarm having to retire outside for a few minutes …




Well what did we have to eat …

 
No explanation needed - it was good!

a Sharing Platter, which we did all tuck into:  I chose the vegetable taster: Provencal tomatoes, beetroot hummus, carrot and coriander puree, chickpea cake, pepper spring roll, white bean puree and fresh breads.










Then we had one who desireth The Lost Gold battered fish and chips, minted pea puree and chunky tartare sauce.









While the now graduated student had the Lost and Found Salad: mixed lettuce, pickled vegetables, quinoa, candied beetroot, balsamic tomatoes, and gooey mozzarella balls.  She did share the Sharing Platter as we'd agreed ... 






Nearly all mine - this was very very good!
We were all very happy … ‘cept the little one (young god-daughter) needed a dessert … and who can say no at these times … we tried two of Hettie’s Desserts: 


Lemon meringue pie with raspberry ripple ice cream – all (all – nearly!) mine!




Then mother and daughter both had the Chocolate Marquise, clotted cream and vanilla wafer.


Coffee, tea and water followed – then we had to leave to get back to the house to pack up the car and hit the motorway!  I sat quietly by … but at one stage I thought there was too much chit-chat going on upstairs and went to do a chase up!! 


The entrance way to the Lost and Found pub
We did get back by 9.00 pm or so – buying a few odds and ends to snack once we got home … cheeses, salads, and all the bad things – crisps, olives, some cooked meats … we had a hubby to feed too.  By then we needed our vino … and enjoyed our very informal supper in the conservatory ... and did no unpacking of the car!


Well that was one of my day’s out during the summer … it was during one of the few days when it was really hot.  The final wrap up of the house was done a week later when mother went up for another car load, and littlie stayed up to party and say her goodbyes …
The Great Wall card I received ... clever isn't it?


… before jetting off to Beijing, China – where she had a 7 week work placement – yes she’s one bright lady and now writes in Mandarin!  Then she had a three – four week travel trip.


By the time you read this … I will hopefully have been able to catch up with her …


Hope you enjoyed our lunch?

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

34 comments:

Elephant's Child said...

That lunch, and indeed the whole outing sounds really, really good.
I hope you did get your catch up, and that it was wonderful.

Gattina said...

This bar restaurant looks so beautiful ! I would have enjoyed the fish & chips for sure !

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ EC - it was a fun time. We've had telephone and brief email contact - with her parents too - but she's north of London and I'm down here. She's settling in and looking to the future ... so it looks like we'll have to wait a few weeks ...

@ Gattina - yes the fish and chips did look good - but L did think afterwards she should have had some thing different!

Cheers to you both - Hilary

Patsy said...

That food all looks really nice - but I'd have preferred a plate for the fish and chips.

I do approve of the slightly unconventioal use of an old bank though, especially the part about Hettie. I'm sure there must have been real women like her as the Victorians seem to have been very keen on studying varios sciences.

Out on the prairie said...

That is quite a spread to enjoy

Rhodesia said...

Interesting looking place and the food looks scrumptious. I guess from what you have said you had a wonderful day meeting up. Have a good weekend Diane

Kittie Howard said...

What a lovely outing! Everyone's food looked delicious. I've never had beetroot hummus and would love to try it. Writing Mandarin Chinese as a second language takes a lot of dedication . . . very impressive!

Christine Rains said...

What a wonderful lunch! Thank you for sharing with us. I love a place with a secret story. And those desserts... Mmm! Have a lovely weekend.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

Your choices look so good. What a fun day it must have been.

Southpaw HR Sinclair said...

The food looks good, but the architecture! The building and what they done with it is gorgeous.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Patsy - the food was good - I guess that's their way of serving the fish and chips up - I quite liked the greaseproof paper lining!

There definitely were women like Hettie .. but I loved the concept of the fictional heroine of the Old Bank .. and the way the idea has been crafted into the concept.

@ Steve - it was a fun day and we needed some sustenance.

@ Diane - we had a wonderful couple of days and I saw Birmingham (a bit of) and we had a good catch up - before the god-child went off to China.

@ Kittie - I hadn't had beetroot hummus either .. and it was good, as too the white bean puree .. it was a good platter mix. My god-daughter has done really well with her Chinese studies - she got a first at Uni ... and they had more tuition when she was out there working. Now we'll see what happens!

@ Christine - it was a fun time and the idea of the secret botanist was just lovely ... the various places had little snippets of interest attached to them - so one could almost imagine the botanist's garden out back. Pud - is not my favourite .. but these were enjoyed!

@ Teresa - I had a lovely couple of days north of London and our trip to Birmingham was a great meet up with my goddaughter. Food wasn't bad either!

@ Holly - the food was delicious. The concept is great isn't it ... and the idea behind the Old Bank - giving it new life as Hettie's secret botanical hideaway - was great fun to see.

Thanks everyone - it was a very good choice of my goddaughter! Hilary

Joanne said...

what a unique lunch experience. I thoroughly enjoyed the tastings and I would have stolen your dessert. Excellent adventure and nice pics

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

What a fantastic place to eat! Heck, I would have been happy just to visit, and look around... they wouldn't have even had to feed me. However, it is entirely possible that I could have been persuaded to try some of those desserts. They look delicious!

Happy weekend!

Susan Scott said...

O I am positively salivating Hilary thank you! What a delightful day and company and surroundings! All looks very grand and perfect!
Thank you for this ... my tummy is rumbling!

Murees Dupé said...

The lunch looked delicious. What a interesting restaurant. It definitely sounds like you had a wonderful day. Those desserts look especially good.

Deborah Weber said...

What a fun outing - I'd certainly like to have lunch with a Victorian botanist. And you too, of course. :-)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Joanne - it certainly was a unique interior - my poor dessert seems to be disappearing fast, now the bloggers are reaching over with their spoons! Thanks ...

@ Susan - it was a really good choice wasn't it ... the food was very good - sad Birmingham is up there, and not near here! We were good at sharing ... so we'd have been happy to share some more ... it was all delicious.

@ Susan - I know it was a fun place to 'crash' out in on such a hot day. We had such a fun time chatting away and thinking about the future - it was a perfect get together. Reminded us of South Africa - as we'd met out there.

@ Murees - they are being quite inventive with new restaurants .. so eating out can be in fascinating places. Another dessert lover!

@ Deborah - we had a lovely time - and the Victorian Botanist gave us extra things to think about .. thanks it'd be fun to meet up.


Cheers to you all - Hettie too would love you to visit! Hilary

Annalisa Crawford said...

I love old buildings being revamped for use today - and with such an interesting twist. I love how much detail has gone into the fictional life of Hettie.

Robert Bennett said...

That all looks so good! I can't decide what looks tastiest.

A Cuban In London said...

That fish is... well... a proper fish. :-) You have the most fascinating stories ever. What a lovely place.

Greetings from London.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Annalisa - I agree with you .. it's the clever way designers convert our old buildings. I was bemused by the tale of the fictional Hettie - but couldn't find out much else than what came up here ... I'm sure if went back to the restaurant I'd find more ... but from down here ... it amuses and is such a clever idea ...

@ Robert - they were all good ...and the day was fun ...

@ ACIL - yes a proper fish .. the cod looked succulent when it was cut into ... but I'm glad I had my starter. Thanks so much - I aim to please everyone who cares to read, and all who care to comment. My first visit to Birmingham was a happy time - but I'd like to go back at some stage ... other areas to see and explore.

Cheers to you - Birmingham is a good place to visit .. Hilary

DMS said...

What a beautiful place to have lunch! It looks and sounds delicious! I am hungry now! :) So interesting that Hettie is fictional. Glad you are having such fun. :)
~Jess

dolorah said...

Oh awesome. Yes please, send the desert my way. I always have to skip desert when I'm out because I'm so full from dinner. Sometime I'm going to have desert first and dinner to go, lol.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Jess - it was an interesting interior, good food and good service ... and to find Hettie was a contrived character for the bar/restaurant was an interesting take on naming a food and cocktail venue.

@ Donna - ok I'll try and send the meringue across ... might get a little wet and become soggy!! Changing the courses around could be a good idea - there's no reason we should have savoury first ... and then you'd get your dessert. I try not to eat them!

Cheers to you both and thanks for visiting .. Hilary

beste barki said...

When the world is in the right mood, people behave so very cleverly and creatively. Wonderful architecture, imaginative food, young and bright students, experienced grown ups making delectable choices...... I wish we could repeat the formula in all corners of the world and never fight. Salut!

Jean Davis said...

What an interesting place! I love the whole décor based on a fictional person twist, and the food looks great.

TexWisGirl said...

how cool to eat in an old bank!

Gail M Baugniet - Author said...

Definitely enjoyed the lunch menu, especially the vegetable taster and lemon meringue pie! Also loved taking the vicarious trip with you.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Although I've heard of restaurants themed around fictional characters: Sherlock Holmes, Doctor Who, etc ... I've never heard of a place that invents its own fictional botanist!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Beste - what a great comment ... so appropriate: "if we could repeat the formula in all corners of the world and never fight" ... that would make a lot of difference.

@ Jean - it's a fun concept isn't it.. and the food was great.

@ Theresa - I know - raised above the bustling floor, overlooking the cashiers in the distance ..

@ Gail - good to see you .. and wasn't the menu fun .. delicious tasting too. Am happy to have you along when I travel away ....

@ Dianne - yes the themed around is a clever concept too - but creating a character is genius ... especially a botanist for a restaurant.

Thanks to you all for visiting .. lovely to have you here sharing my lunch venue .. cheers Hilary

Lynn said...

I would love to go there! What an amazing place. So glad you had such a nice lunch with special people.

Clotted cream - I still dream of it. I never see that around here (probably a good thing.)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Lynn - I wouldn't mind going back!! It was a special day - about to have clotted cream tonight?! It looks like it's not imported - perhaps to v expensive places!! Sorreeee - you'll have to visit?! Cheers Hilary

Jeffrey Scott said...

What an impressive lunch. What an outstanding restaurant. The building looks gorgeous! Thanks for sharing.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Jeffrey - it was such an interesting place to find out about - clever marketing ... and delicious too - cheers Hilary