We retreat to Singapore Botanic Gardens to try a seasonality-driven menu, refreshing cocktails, dazzling desserts and more at this new contemporary bistro
Plug out, disconnect, and retreat from the urban sprawl with a trip to Botanico at The Garage. Helmed by Spanish-born Chef Antonio Oviedo, the contemporary bistro offers diners a seasonality-driven menu influenced by “the gifts of soil, land, and sea”. As its name would suggest, this new restaurant makes its home in a garage that was used to house cars of professors in the Horticulture Department of the former Economic Garden. But, we’ll spare you the history lesson, because we know you’re here for the food, and you are certainly in for a treat at this lush gastronomic retreat.
Our meal began with a medley of starters – the Botanico salad, smoked sardines and lamb tartare. The Botanico salad was a refreshing mix of heirloom tomatoes, cañarejal cheese, pickled beetroot, black radishes, charred cucumber, fresh figs, and an aromatic herb dressing. The smoked sardines (smoked in-house) was a distinctively savoury dish that was paired with a creamy white ajo blanco sauce. However, it was the lamb tartare that won me over. Swapping out beef for chopped lamb tenderloin was an interesting switch of flavours, but the addition of a cold, creamy mustard ice cream was what distinguished the dish for me.
The other two dishes that impressed me the most were the chargrilled Carabienero shrimp and the roasted pigeon. The plump shrimp came shelled and was served as a rich risotto-esque dish of bomba rice cooked in prawn bisque. It was hearty and comforting as a main, and definitely a dish I’d order again. As for the pigeon, it was done two ways – the breast was pan-seared to a medium rare, while the pigeon leg was cooked sous vide ’til tender. It was gamey, richly-flavoured, and everything you’d expect from a pigeon dish.
Dessert is perhaps the menu item that takes the most inspiration from Botanico’s lush surroundings. The “Tropical Fruits” dish is one that’ll turn heads; a colourful display of white chocolate turmeric ganache, deep fried laksa leaf, meringue, laksa leaf ice cream, sable crumble, and a trio of palm fruit, longan, and jackfruit – giving nods to the tropical fruit trees that used to line the Botanic Gardens area.
Complementing our meal was a selection of distinctively refreshing cocktails. If you’re after something simple, try the Garage Gin’onic, a classic gin and tonic with elderflower syrup for a floral twist. Want something slightly out the ordinary instead? Opt for the Thyme Lemonade – vodka, thyme-infused simple syrup, fresh lemon juice and lime juice.
And, the cherry on top? After a feast like that, you’ll get to stroll across the sprawling Botanic Gardens to shake off the food coma. We really can’t think of a better way to spend an evening than great food in a lush garden enclave.
Botanico, 50 Cluny Park Road, Singapore Botanic Gardens, Singapore 257488.