Restaurant Botanic named Restaurant of the Year by Gourmet Traveller

29 September 2022

A media release from Restaurant Botanic

Adelaide's Restaurant Botanic is Australia's Restaurant of the Year, taking out the jewel in the country's dining award crown at the Gourmet Traveller Awards held in Sydney.

Under the guidance of chef Justin James, Restaurant Botanic has experienced an incredibly successful awards season; it was named South Australia's Best Restaurant by Delicious.100 and is the first SA restaurant to be named Restaurant of the Year by Gourmet Traveller since 2018, when Orana took the title.

Located deep in the heart of the stunning 51-hectare Adelaide Botanic Garden, Restaurant Botanic has astounded critics from the country's most popular and respected national food magazines, Delicious and Gourmet Traveller, as well as the national broadsheet, The Australian, where critic John Lethlean gave Botantic a rare five-star review earlier in the year.

Executive Chef Justin James said "We are incredibly humbled to received this recognition by Gourmet Traveller.

"Since opening in mid-2021, our mission has been to deliver exceptional experiences with something unique and immersive that is tied to time and place. That time is the moment we welcome you into our restaurant and that place is the Botanic Garden.

"There is nothing like this in the world, we really believe that, and we're stoked that our peers believe that, too."

Gourmet Traveller editor Joana Hunkin said at the Awards: "There is no question that Restaurant Botanic is a bravura performance. It combines fun and adventure with polish and poise. Chef Justin James doesn't attempt perfection but rather embraces the beauty of irregularity and nature, making the most of the restaurant's iconic location and using the garden's bounty to create something uniquely of its place."

Restaurant Botanic Co-Owner Steve Blanco says: "We've believe in Justin James' vision ever since we first talked to get him from Melbourne to do something here in Adelaide.

"What Justin and his team of chefs and floor staff have created at Botanic exceeded even our lofty expectations. Since opening a mere 14 months ago, Restaurant Botanic is now one of South Australia's must-do experiences. We're incredibly proud of that."

Elements of Justin's time in some of the world's most acclaimed kitchens - Dan Barber's Blue Hill at Stone Barns, New York's famed Eleven Madison Park and Copenhagen's Noma - can be found at Restaurant Botanic as the former Executive Chef of Cue de Monde and his team (including Head Chef Jake Davey, Sous Chef Jamie Musgrave, Restaurant Manager Alma Pasalic and Sommerlier Marcell Kustos) showcase the Botanic Garden and Australian flavours in new and inventive ways.

Justin says: "We are using this world-class attraction to create a narrative about our unique surroundings; the ingredients tell a story of time and palce to take our guests on a tour of the city gardens. This is reflected in our beverage program, our ambience, and our menu."

With a progressive approach to food, service and ambience, Restaurant Botanic is as friendly, down-to-earth, and welcoming as your favourite neighbourhood eatery but with the finesse, experimentation, and attention to detail of a World's 50 Best.

"Our aim is to create something beyond the everyday fine-dining restaurant experience," Justin says. "We want our guests to experience the exceptional when they walk through our doors and enjoy a mini holiday for the four hours they are here. We are super-friendly, welcoming, and accommodating to make a connection with every person who visits."

Guided by an eclectic soundtrack - Led Zeppelin, Wu-Tang Clan and Bach are all on rotations - Justin or one of his chefs fetch drink orders on arrival and expertly whip up cocktails at the kitchen bar when needed, as Restaurant Botanic operates on a one team philosophy, which means everyone can do (almost) anything.

"Everything is polished, clean and close to perfect," Justin says. "We have very high standards, but we don't take ourselves too seriously. We'll make jokes so guests can sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. They will eat with their hands and experience new flavours."

An intriguing feature of Restaurant Botanic is its Ferment Lab where more than 2000kg of produce from the Garden and local growers have been fermented or preserved while the garden blend teas, flavoured kombuchas and infused juices on the 'Temperance Menu' feature botanicals and ingredients plucked from the surrounding 51-hectare garden.

Justin brings the spectacular garden into the restaurant as everyone one of the 20 flavour combinations found on the Garden Trail menu features ingredients foraged from the Botanic Garden and touched by flame in the kitchen's hearth.

Read the Gourmet Traveller article here.

Restaurant Botanic named Restaurant of the Year by Gourmet Traveller

Image gallery

Recent news

Culture and Art icons join forces in lead-up to Chihuly event

21 March 2024

Two of South Australia’s iconic cultural and arts institutions are joining forces in the lead-up to the Australian premiere of the exclusive international glass-art event, Chihuly in the Botanic Garden, opening at Adelaide Botanic Garden in September 2024. Adelaide’s world class Garden and its craft and design icon, JamFactory, have announced a partnership to foster the growth of local glass-art talent.