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June 20, 2024

Restaurant Botanic’s new executive chef will change things up

CityMag sat down with Restaurant Botanic's new executive chef, Jamie Musgrave, to chat all things food, culture and using their backyard to create loved dishes.

  • Words and pictures: Claudia Dichiera

It’s a quest to find the esteemed Restaurant Botanic, hidden inside the Botanic Gardens.


Restaurant Botanic
Plane Tree Drive, Adelaide 5000
Thu—Sat: 6pm ’til late
Sunday: from 12pm


When we do eventually find the spot, Jamie Musgrave welcomes us inside the restaurant and offers CityMag a glass of water. He brings it out on a large beige-coloured tray as we begin to chat about his new role, the restaurant and everything in between.

In December 2020, Justin James took over what was previously named Botanic Gardens Restaurant. In July 2021, the iconic Adelaide venue reopened under Restaurant Botanic, with a fresh fit-out and entirely new menu.

When we spoke to Justin at the time of the rebrand, he said the dishes would be “creative”, “delicious” and “very nice to look at”.

“The philosophy of the food, I have a clear vision on that, and the service. It’s exceptional produce, exceptional experiences, is basically it. And under that, there’s a lot of smaller details,” Justin told us at the time.

Jamie Musgrave


This philosophy has been passed down as Restaurant Botanic’s new executive chef, Jamie, starts service on July 18.

Jamie says he used to work quite closely with Justin, and he was “a good mentor and good friend”.

“A lot of it is like his vision of what he wants, and then we work on doing things together. He’ll come up with an idea and then we’ll make it and try it, see if it works,” Jamie says.

“We would bounce back and forth… we chat a lot about food and eating out and restaurants and all that jazz.

“It’s good to have someone’s brains to pick.”

For Jamie, his journey at Restaurant Botanic began in 2021.

“I actually started as a chef de partie which was great and good fun to come here,” Jamie says.

“And I think it’s good to start and work your way up. You know, I’ve seen every part of it, every section, how everything works.”

He says having that initial experience inside the fine dining restaurant made it easier.

“When you work closely with a bunch of people for a long time, you know the way that they work, and everyone has that same standard that they’re working towards,” he says.

“When everyone’s on the same page, and they’re trying to achieve the same thing, it is what you want.”


Yet when Jamie found out he got the new position as executive chef — he was working as the head chef at the time — he was still surprised. Jamie says it was “something that [chefs] work towards throughout their career”.

“I was approached by the directors here and it caught me off guard a little bit,” he says.

“It was good, I had found out that Justin was moving on, [so] I had hopes for it, [but] to hear it was great.

“They said what they were looking for and… they were pretty happy to let me do my thing and take the reins.”

Jamie says he is “going to change the whole menu” but still keep the ethos of Restaurant Botanic — which is food led by seasonal, locally sourced produce.

“So the food will be different… we are in Australia, so like the cooking at this level is, it might look a little bit different, but [it will] lean towards using a lot of native Australian ingredients and stuff like that,” Jamie says.

“The ethos of the restaurant — it’s in the middle of the gardens here, and we do have the opportunity to go out and then pick and use what’s around us, so that’s great.

“There’s not many places that you can walk outside and you have an abundance of ingredients just on your doorstep.

“That plays heavily into the part of the season of what’s around.”


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As the menu is so heavily reliant on seasonal produce, Jamie can’t say exactly what will feature one the first menu iteration.

“Specific changes — I mean, it won’t be any of the dishes that are on now,” Jamie says.

“[I’ll] just be switching it up a little bit. It’s not crazy; we’re not going to turn into a steak house.

“By no means is the first menu that we’ll do is like ‘this is what we’re going do’. We’re happy for it to be ever-changing.”

He does tell CityMag that his menu will be more of a curated experience, using unique and small-batch producers.

One dish will be chawanmushi with mud crab cooked in sea celery and finger lime butter, seasoned with burnt mandarin and kaffir lime, then finished at the table with a foam of mud crab and celery leaf vinegar.

Restaurant Botanic is located at Plane Tree Drive, Adelaide and is open from Thursday to Saturday from 6pm until late, then on Sundays from 12pm for lunch.

Jamie begins his role on July 18.

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