Botanico which is located at the upper storey of The Garage – a colonial building in the middle of the Singapore Botanic Gardens – is as much a feast for the eyes as it is a feast for the taste buds. With the alfresco area draped in vines and electric lights and with a view of the shrubbery of the Botanic Gardens, the ambiance is quite unlike any other restaurant in Singapore.
I was there in the evening but imagine the whole scene would work just as well, if not even better during the day. This is a place where I could imagine people would spend lazy afternoons watching the world go by. Other than the beautiful space, the cuisine here has been getting quite a bit of buzz as well. The new head chef, Sujatha Asokan, has come onboard to showcase her flavors – western with a distinct local sensibility. Recently, I dropped by Botanico to check out the new menu.
Dinner started with a plate of shell fish. Coming straight from Ireland, the Seasonal Oysters ($6) carried a tinge of Thailand with its zing-y chili sauce and a hint of lime.
The Asparagus Tempura (S$14) will probably make you rethink your vegetables. As the name suggests, the stalks are deep fried until they turn brown and crispy. While I imagine that this in itself would make an excellent starter, the inclusion of miso hollandaise provided for an extra kick. You’ll want to slather your tempura on it as much as possible.
While I am not a stranger to Beef Tongue (S$20), I thought Botanico’s rendition was quite unique. Firstly, it is done in distinctly thin slices which is contrary to how it’s usually eaten in Western Europe (i.e. the whole tongue). The thin slices made the game-y tongue flavor less perceptible. If I wasn’t told that it was tongue, I probably would not have guessed.
The Chef’s interpretation of Assam Laksa, the Seabass Ceviche (S$17) is delightfully creamy thanks to the tamarind laksa sauce. There is also shrimp paste which comes in ice cream format. Rather than eating the solidified state, I would suggest letting it melt a bit first and to slather the residue into the accompanying noodles to make it less overpowering. I thoroughly enjoyed the creamy texture of the ceviche due to the presence of these two “sauces”.
I thought the Iberico Char Siew (S$34) was very much reminiscent of Chinese presentation. Many fine dining Chinese restaurant use Iberico pork for their char siew these days. Botanico builds on that by adding a most curious portion of carrot noodles. As is expected of Iberio pork, the meat was tender and juicy – even in the thickest parts.
My favorite meat dish of the evening though has got to be the Stockyard Wagyu Petit Tender (S$34). A petit tender is obtained from the cow’s shoulders and only four pieces are available from one cow. Presented in medium rare, I quite liked the hint of spice that permeated from the green sriracha. The crispy finely layered potato terrine is another highlight.
Staying true to the restaurant’s name, the Lemongrass Pannacotta (S$10) is probably one of the finest desserts I’ve eaten as of late. Delightfully herbal with the strong taste of lemongrass contrasted against the milky flavor of the curd, it also comes with ginger ice cream to bring the “botanic” theme home. A must order. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also check out the Jalapeno Ice Cream (S$11). I typically don’t enjoy savory stuff in my desserts and the presence of bacon financier made this dish less favorable in my eyes.
50 Cluny Park Road (Level 2)
Singapore Botanic Gardens 257488
Mondays to Fridays, 6 to 11:30PM
Saturdays and Sundays, 11AM to 3PM, 6 to 11:30PM
Reservations: +65 9831 1106