Discover this exquisite cafe, gin and gelato bar within a gorgeous 1970s mud-brick hut
It was fortuitous when Dan Hughes was looking for a place to move Mr. Goaty Gelato production from Sydney to the Central Coast when he stumbled upon an empty mudbrick building with a commercial kitchen on the grounds of a start-up gin business (not to hide the lead the little start-up was Distillery Botanica – kind of a big deal in Gin now!).
Two years later and the traffic of people through the old Fragrant Garden site was building with the Distillery is gaining more traction and Mr.Goaty production site was being sort out from people who love the gelato so much they want to be able to buy it outside of special events and festivals. Is when now Dan and his wife, Julia are offered the opportunity to open a restaurant/café in that 1970’s mudbrick building.
The undertaking of transforming the building from what it was to what we experience today was a journey. Julia and Dan partnered with Xanthe Highfields along with local artist Nicole Berlach donning the walls with botanicals that can also be seen in real life when you explore the vast garden.
Their original concept of a gelato window expanded quickly to coffee and the growth kept coming. As a chef by trade the café wasn’t a stretch for Dan, and the career gear-shift seems to suit Julia who greets everyone that walks in with friendly acknowledgment and knowing many names of the regulars. In essence, Bar Botanica still follows Dan and Julia's original ethos of natural and seasonal ingredients.
“We are a garden to plate menu, situated in such a beautiful garden that where our inspiration for our menu comes from. Dan being English there is a strong European influence to our menu”
The Gardeners Lunch – seasonal raw veg, ricotta, garden turmeric hummus, piccalilli, garden herbs & fresh sourdough. “A riff of ploughman's lunch” Julia explains (They have a traditional ploughman's on the menu too) this ‘riff’ is a vegetarian or vegan take on the dish and showcases what is seasonal at the time.
If you really enjoyed the spiced apple chutney or piccalilli on your plates – you can buy a jar for home. Julia explains these are near cult-like in their popularity with the jars selling out regularly.
All the herbs, garnishes and most of the salad leaves are sourced from the garden around us with everything else being sourced from the local Central Coast area.
There is another very special reason to visit Bar Botanica. This is only café in the world that is serving Mr. Black coffee beans. Yep, that Mr. Black. The world-renowned award-winning coffee liquor Mr. Black. It seems reasonable seeing that beans are already being freshly roasted on-site for the liquor it would be rude not to be using them to make flat whites too.
Overall Bar Botanica, is a place to meet and gather. A venue where you are invited to explore and understand the surroundings. With mostly only outdoor seating you are immersed in the gardens and ponds that are bursting with seasonal plants that are not just there for atmosphere but most likely have a purpose either on your plate, in a gelato or maybe the gin.
As you wander you will see fragments of yesteryear with fairy doors still being spotted amongst the larger trees and large grass areas for kids to be kids, whilst you relax with a G&T and enjoy your lunch.