COCONUTS HOT SPOT — The Botanic (not to be confused with Botanico or The Botanist) opened its doors a few weeks ago as an evolution of its former digs Salt Tapas & Bar. Still situated on the ground floor of Raffles City Shopping Centre, think of The Botanic as a vegan/vegetarian joint that also caters for meat lovers, as opposed to vice versa.
The place is still bougie as hell though. The stern dark brown hues of Salt Tapas & Bar have given way to more welcoming shades of green and grey, fully embracing its new garden aesthetics to accompany a plant-based menu.
Yes, expect all the trappings of a restaurant that wants to be more ethical and sustainable — The Botanic’s Executive Chef Shannon Binnie aims to create a more substantial menu filled with nutrient-dense superfoods, whole grains, fresh produce, and gluten-free options. Meat-wise, the entrées highlight free-range, organic meat and seafood offerings. Even the wine list is packed with organic and biodynamic offerings. Our cup (made from ethically-sourced biodegradable clay) runneth over.
It goes without saying that the vegan and vegetarian entrées at The Botanic are fantabulous. Sichuan cuisine gets a nice shoutout via the Pressed Tofu ($16), a softball (read: not-so-spicy) appetizer that arrives alongside grilled king brown mushrooms and crunchy cashew nuts. As much as we’d hate to admit it, the meatless scotch egg ($15) is legitimately good, with an organic free-range egg encased in a herby falafel shell. Tabouli, cucumber, and yogurt make a refreshing side.
The non-vegetarian entrées? Eh, not quite as impressive — or at least it wasn’t so during the closed door event meant for the kitchen team to gather feedback (we gatecrashed). As awesome as the quantity was and as majestic as it looked like on camera, the meats were a tad lackluster in the seasoning department. The slow-cooked lamb shoulder ($32, with green olive and chili tapenade, mint yogurt, buckwheat, and jicama) didn’t hold the moist savouriness we’d expect, while the hyped sambal short rib ($39, with caramelized shallot, horseradish, roasted padron peppers) failed to entice elation. The gluten-free inked rice that came with the grilled squid ($22) was wonderful, but the star of the dish was a wee chewy.
The Botanic makes it all up with an array of killer cocktails — the Urban Quencher ($18, with vodka, framboise, watermelon juice, fresh lime, sugar syrup, and salt) is a potent companion — as well as sustainable, organic and biodynamic wines. Loathers of chendol will be turned into true believers after they try the consummate Chendol Pavlova ($12), which offers that satisfyingly sweet and cold crunch with jackfruit granita, mango, coconut, and salted palm sugar.
The Botanic is at Raffles City Shopping Centre, 252 North Bridge Road, #01-22A
Open Mon-Sun 12pm-11pm
MRT: City Hall