Botanico at the Garage in Singapore Botanic Gardens is the restaurant located above the casual diner Bees Knees (read about our visit here). Still relatively new, Botanico had previously only opened for dinner. They recently started serving lunch. They have set lunch options which looked interesting and so we made a beeline to Botanico for lunch recently.
The man in charge of the kitchen – Chef Antonio has impressive credentials. According to the Botanico website, his “family background encompasses both the North and South of Spain, and his own diverse training in world-renowned kitchens – including that of the late 3-Michelin-starred Chef Santi Santamaria, and the Roca brothers of El Celler de Can Roca — span the traditional and the avant-garde.” By the way El Celler de Can Roca in the town of Girona near Barcelona has been named best restaurant in the world a couple of times.
The entrance to Botanico is at the top of the stairs at the extreme left end of the Garage building. Unsheltered and exposed to the elements, getting from the carpark into the restaurant can be challenging especially on rainy evenings and particularly for ladies on elevated heels. Beautiful casual is therefore the preferred dress code when dining at Botanico.
Casual is also the mood in the Botanico restaurant and bar. The restaurant is basically decorated with ceramic tiles and simple furniture. There is an outdoor area which is likely to be too hot for lunch but can be pleasant on fair-weathered evenings.
Botanico at the Garage Lunch Menu
A simple ala carte menu is available for lunch. But what looked like value for money was the set lunch menu at Botanico at the Garage. Two or three-course menus for $35 and $45 respectively. We decided on one of each.
Some bread and butter were served after the orders were taken. The half-filled butter container looked a bit forlorn. What followed was a long wait, a mixed up order but a happy ending. It seems that the restaurant had under-estimated the response to their new lunch opening. More walk-in customers had turned up putting some strain on the resources. Our starters took 20 minutes to arrive and a further 20 minutes for the mains.
It took a while, but when the starters arrived, they looked very beautiful. The Hokkaido Scallops Carpaccio had a sophisticated look and taste. Scallops were thinly sliced to form the base of this dish. Other ingredients such as ricotta cheese, raspberries and Jerusalem Artichokes topped the dish. The result was a complex mouthful with each scoop of the food.
The other starter was Smoked Farm Egg. The menu stated that it contained Black Trumpets, Ibérico Pork Jowl and Celeriac Foam. Other than the pork, we had no idea what the other two items were. The pork jowl turned out to be cubes of roast pork, quite similar to the roast pork (siu yoke) of Chinese restaurants. Subsequent research revealed that black trumpets are a type of mushrooms and celeriac foam is a puree made with boiled potatoes and butter. All these combined with the runny egg yolk in the middle made a successful combination. A bit like breakfast food, but we can eat this any time of day.
The mix-up in orders resulted in us getting a wrong starter – the Heirloom Tomatoes. They said that we could keep it, and so we had an extra starter. We were glad we did not order it as it was the least attractive of the three. The presentation was untidy. The dish was made up of a few bits of smoked anchovy tossed with some tomato salad. The taste was not bad but way off the standard of the other two.
Now for the mains. The smoked Iberico pork belly was a tasty piece of fatty pork. Garnished with noodles made from carrots, this was a fine main course.
The other main course was more substantial. The was quite a big lump of beef cooked till very soft. The grilled lettuce and pickled radish helped reduce the heaviness of the beef.
We only had one dessert and we were happy with our choice of The Ceiba. We are not sure what that means. According to Wikipedia, “Ceiba is the name of a genus of many species of large trees found in tropical areas…”. In any case, this dessert contained warm organic chocolate, ginger ice cream, hibiscus and brownie croutons. The assortment of flavours complemented the main dark chocolate taste.
Overall, the food at Botanico at the Garage in the Botanic Gardens was certainly at a high level. It was a shame that the accommodation and service standards were not on par with the standard of food. They really ought to do something about the shabby state of the stairs leading up to the entrance.
Overall Rating: 4 TOPs
Botanico at the Garage
50 Cluny Park Road
Tel: +65 9831 1106