The Botswana Butchery Dining Experience

Rebecca Varidel
20th Jan 2022

Chef tells us not to call him Chef. No one in the kitchen does. They all call each other by their first names. His name is Darren. Darren Templeman. This new contemporary 21st Century approach to kitchen hierarchy might feel natural, but let me tell you it's rare as hen's teeth in the history of the kitchen brigade, and at Botswana Kitchen, it's working a treat. And the sense of camaraderie it instills also carries across onto the floor.

We eat out a lot! and have done forever. And here, despite current industry staffing shortages, we experienced some of the very best service we have had in a very very long time. That's even more impressive when you consider that new restaurant Botswana Butchery has only just opened.

So it started at the desk, from the moment I was the first to arrive. Every compliance requirement was ticked with the check-in, but here I wasn't made to feel like I was being interrogated by the QR code police. The professional service with a wide smile, was exactly how it should be at a high end restaurant, at any time in history.

Seated like a queen in plush gold velvet, I perused the restaurant. Each spacious and open air table offers the benefits of al fresco dining looking down over the fountain courtyard yet with the protection of cover by the roof. If it happens to pour, as La Niña tends to gift us frequently this summer, the curvy deck can be glassed in. Impressive design.

Botswana Butchery is the stunning three level crown in the new sleek 25 Martin Place mega-buck refurbishment, and also dispenses the latest rooftop bar addition to Sydney CBD. The very best local Australian and New Zealand produce are the heroes in these dishes.

Right from the start of dinner, the food and its plating is impressive. Appellation oysters from Shoalhaven were freshly shucked, plump sweet and creamy as they sat resplendent on bed of pebbles. Indulgently they're all the better topped with Siberian Imperial Caviar, and Sherry and Eschalot Mignonette on the side. Siberian Imperial Caviar Service is also offered on its own. Maybe next time?

Then, the service got even better. It's only happened to me once before, at a 3 hat restaurant, when I first started eating out. I was talking to the waiter for a while, asking questions. Someone else from the floor quietly dipped in and surreptitiously took the dirty plates, the oyster shells he had cleared from our table, and whisked them away, so he could finish answering our question. Not the only thing we loved, but a big gold star for that.

As soon as we dived into the raw and cured bar menu Darren Templeman's deft hand can be seen. Seemingly simple, deceptively complex. The meld of cuisines crafted from his deep knowledge of Asian flavours and classical French techniques. Take one look and you'll see what I mean. Yellowfin Tuna, pickled daikon, ume boshi, golden sesame, shiso, Botswana ponzu exemplifies this as his next evolution of mastery. The fish is perfect, the accoutrements exquisite.

A girl can only eat so much in one sitting so we had to miss out on the charcuterie, this time. There's lots of names (and local people) I know. Pino’s Dulce Vita Salumi. Romeo’s Smoked Mortadella. Iberico Jamon... And this list goes on. Served with Pioik bakery breads, house pickles, beer fermented mustard & Guindilla. Swoon. The best of Australian cheeses too. La Luna Ring, Holy Goat. Capricorn, Woodside. Pyengana Clothbound Cheddar, Pyengana Dairy... Can I live here?

Reading the dinner menu gives the same understanding. Classic dishes, simple yet complex mastery. Wood grilled. There are too many to try and we need to come back again, and again, and again. Yet for nostalgia I have to try ox tongue which was my Mum's favourite dish. This however tastes nothing like she used to make. It may be offal but its is high end cuisine. Caramelised and glazed with Botswana tare, crispy potato gems, shishito peppers, Xérès vinegar. Is it polite for the regal queen in her plush gold chair to sigh loudly with pleasure during dinner? It is so good! Bone marrow is unctuous and the bread has just arrived so supremely timed for spreading. You get it don't you. In good service, the bread shouldn't come at the start to fill up on, like all fine things it should be offered in good timing.

We skipped the mains of duck, lamb, pork and the likes and head straight to the long list of aged beef, are offered two with a selection of three sauces. Truffle & Bone Marrow Butter. Horseradish Crème Fraîche. Lovage Chimmi Churri. However it's the retired dairy cow that gets me going. From 1,000 years of dairy farming family, six generations of dairy farming in Australia on both maternal and paternal sides, and moi well I'm the first not on The Land, I get this. I know this taste. I know this tenderness. The Jersey cow, the texture and flavour that comes from a leisurely life of loving care. This is what I want, to be put out to pasture and eat the Botswana Butchery steak for dinner every night.

Impressive too is the wine list. Very impressive. Botswana Butchery offers around 1,000 wines, expertly selected by Group Sommelier Piers Haszard. The Botswana Butchery commitment to local carries through here, with a local wine represented in nearly every category. For a venue of this size, the list is extremely thoughtful, and substantially boutique, and with a terrific selection by the glass. I spy many of my educated favourites, with harmonised matching, indulge in some and I try some new Australian love too.

Somethin' missing? Something sweet? Whether or not you're a durian fan, you can give it a go here. Smooth as. Creamy dessert. The bomb. But I've left the most exciting tip until last. Way back when, Darren Templeman created one of our all time favourite desserts. Yes. Yes, yes his famous Valrhona chocolate tart has been reborn!

All up, Botswana is perfect choice for any outing, and definitely delivers on its claim of relaxed modern dining in a premium atmosphere. It's very Sydney now.