A hidden brunch cafe with a touch of lush greenery has sprung up along Neil Road

COCONUTS HOT SPOT — New year, new opportunities to brunch like never before. So we’re writing this to tell all you brunch fanatics about a hidden little cafe along the bustling Neil Road. Its blink-and-you’ll-miss-it entrance lies in an alleyway, in the middle of a wall mural, and yet the space always seems to be crowded with caffeine drinkers.

The entrance

Botanist, like its name, strives for minimalistic garden vibes, with walls of lush greenery sandwiching wooden benches at the outdoor area. There’s also indoor seating with air-conditioning, but you may leave smelling like food and coffee afterwards. Since it’s brought to you by the same people behind Pacamara Boutique Coffee Roasters and Alchemist, the cafe comes with certain expectations, and it handles them pretty well.

On the menu are brunch standards like baked egg ($19) with chorizo, feta cheese, tomato relish, bacon and toast, guac smash ($18) with tomatoes, feta cheese, beetroot, poached egg and sourdough, as well as croque madame ($18) with ham, gruyere cheese and fried egg on toasted brioche.

Corn fritters

Try the pan-fried corn fritters ($18) on a plate with sweet tomato salsa, hummus, guac and poached egg if you want something light, or go for the corned beef hash ($19) with potatoes and poached eggs to satisfy your protein cravings. 

If you’ve got a particularly sweet tooth, the thick, fluffy pancakes ($18) with nuts, bacon, berries and a drizzle of maple syrup and crème fraîche are all you need for a sugar high. Alternatively, get the French toast brioche ($18) for indulgent spoonfuls of vanilla ice cream, poached pear and rhubarb berry marmalade. 

The outdoor seating

Of course, salads ($17) are an option here as well — pick your plate of leafy greens to come with seared tuna and poached eggs or chicken and quinoa. But if your motto for the year is ‘diet be damned’, chow down on mains like tagliatelle carbonara ($18) with egg, bacon and mushroom, slow-cooked beef cheek with truffle mash ($24) and the beef burger ($20) with bacon, fried egg and pickles.

Beef cheek with truffle mash

All in all, it’s a cosy space to hang out with friends on the weekends — there’s no GST or service charge here, the coffee’s great, and you’ve got Apiary a few doors down for an after-meal ice cream treat. What’s not to like?

Botanist is at 74 Neil Rd. Tue-Sun 8am-6pm.

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