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Botanico is quaint: a few individual and communal sun-dappled tables lie in the middle of a courtyard with lots of trees, hanging plants and a fountain. Surrounding it are work bungalows. Daniel Nass Daniel Nass

Bespoke beer and sandwiches

Under new ownership, Botanico is now offering craft beer by local brewers Cerevisia along with gourmet sandwiches for lunch – all in a verdant garden setting. Quality brews, bites and surrounds? We’ll cheers to that

Still set in a verdant garden, the old Gastrobar Botanico has been converted into a co-working space and a spot to pick up a tasty gourmet sandwich and a refreshing craft beer.

Their space is quaint. A few individual and communal sun-dappled tables lie in the middle of a courtyard with lots of trees, hanging plants, and a fountain.

At the Cerevisia Craft Brew-house bar, patrons can choose from a handful of excellent on-tap brews, from the velvety Tim’s Wheat to the hoppier Apollo C IPA (all beers $3.50). 

“It’s kind of like an oasis or your best friend’s backyard,” explained Cerevisia and Botanico co-owner Erich Phillips, a burly fellow of Texas extraction, during this week’s soft opening. “We want this to be kind of a community space.” 

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The Italian Buffalo, with water buffalo and Chicago-style jus, was a real treat. Daniel Nass

To that end, surrounding the eating and drinking space are several bungalow-style offices, which people can rent out: spots for “folks looking for an alternative to working at a cafe all day but don’t want to lease a large office”, in Phillips’s words. In the work bungalows this week were a travel agent, a graphic designer and a doctoral student. 

Sarah Clark, from Chicago, is the sandwich maker at Botanico, though she makes them under her own business, Haute Sandwiches.

She and Phillips reached an agreement: she uses the kitchen during the day and Phillips takes over at night (Botanico will serve food, but the menu is still in the works). So for now Haute is only a lunch thing, with the menu changing at 2pm to focus on beer and wine pairings with Botanico.

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The on-tap beers from Cerevisia Craft Brewhouse are not to be ignored. Photo supplied

But Clark – a blonde with pink streaks in her hair and a Great Lakes accent – has big plans for Haute, including adding a food truck element to her business. She’s already got a trailer, a big red beater, and plans to hook it to her 200cc Phantom motorbike to traverse the city.

The operation will be truly mobile, and social media-sensitive too. Clark said she would respond to tweets and Facebook messages – if they’re reasonable – and come to you. She estimated a month before the food truck was ready to go. 

“I want ordering lunch to be as easy as texting your friends,” said Clark at the soft opening this week.

Clark’s sandwiches are as delicious as they were quirky. There was the Pumpkin Grilled Cheese ($4.75) –“I thought the sweetness of the pumpkin would play nicely with the chipotle aioli,” she said. 

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Sarah Clark, sandwich chef. Daniel Nass

The Italian Buffalo ($6.25) was a real treat: water buffalo slow-cooked for eight hours, topped with house-made giardiniera and served with a Chicago-style jus, an ode to her windy hometown, where both those sour additions were popularised. The water buffalo meat, a reference to Cambodia, is moist and flavourful.

Somewhat surprisingly for a sandwich spot, the Buffalo Chicken Quesadilla ($5.25) is superb as well, with quality tortillas and the cheddar cheese crisped on the edges for the homemade touch. 

Botanico is located at #9b Street 29. Tel: 077 943 135. The taproom is open Thursday and Friday.

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