Botanico: Spanish Restaurant in Singapore Botanic Gardens Worth a Visit
Singapore’s newest Spanish restaurant is now located on the second floor of a standalone building called ‘The Garage’ in the Singapore Botanic Gardens. This building used to be an actual garage for professors of the former University of Singapore. On the ground floor of The Garage is Bee’s Knees, a café serving coffee, cakes, sandwiches and pizzas.
Getting to The Garage is a little tricky. The most direct road leading to it is Tyersall Road which was closed for many years and just opened recently. There is a public car park nearby which is also used by visitors to the Singapore Botanic Gardens.
Helming the kitchen is Chef Antonio Oviedo who previously worked at Binomio in Craig Road and Iggy’s at Hilton Singapore. He also used to work at the former Santi at Marina Bay Sands and El Celler de Can Roca in Spain.
I dropped by at Botanico for dinner on a Saturday and found the restaurant dimly lit. There was only one candle on each table, which made it hard to read the menu. The décor looked simple and functional, though I am sure the view will be different in the day as the building is surrounded by the luscious flora and fauna.
I couldn’t resist ordering the Idiazabal Croquettes ($14 for two). The crust on the outside was thin and crisp. Once I took a bite, the creamy filling of smoked cheese and shavings of chorizo oozed out immediately. The cheese was not overpowering and the tiny bits of cured meat made the dish a winner.
Calamaritos ($14) or crispy baby squid with seaweed aioli and lime was another appetizer which was well executed, and simply delicious. It was addictive and would pair well with a cocktail drink.
The Botanico salad ($19) came with heirloom tomatoes, canarejal cheese and figs. It had the right balance of flavours which made the simple dish light and refreshing.
One seafood dish I had was the Chargrilled Carabinero ($35). Two scarlet prawns were lightly grilled which made them moist and firm. In a separate bowl was a serving of saffron rice and pork trotters. It was interesting to note that the pork trotters were not chunky pieces which are normally served in a Chinese restaurant. Instead, they were cut into small pieces and provided a gelatinous taste to the rice.
For an unusual meat dish, I ordered the roasted pigeon ($30) which was served with mellow rice together with parsnip and smoked walnuts. As it was a small bird, there wasn’t meat, and the mellow rice tasted like risotto with a rich stock.
The Chargrilled Tajima Wagyu Flank ($40) was a better option. The meat was cooked perfectly. Although it was not marbled, it was full of flavour.
Another good meat dish is the Chargrilled Iberico Pork Belly ($32). This was served with carrot noodles, sherry sauce and purple sorrel. At first, I thought they were plain noodles, but taking a bite, I realised that the “noodles” were made of carrots. I definitely appreciated the creativity and innovativeness of presenting carrots in a different way. The Iberico pork belly was soft and very tender, and reminded me of the Chinese stewed pork belly.
To round off my meal, I had the Botanist ($13). As the name implies, I was expecting more vegetables than fruit as a dessert. Yet, it turned out to be a cucumber sorbet mixed with coconut foam and kaffir lime. The odd combination is rather intriguing as you wouldn’t think such ingredients would mix well, but the beauty lies in its subtlety to delight your palate.
The portions were rather small, but on the whole, I had a pleasant experience at Botanico.
50 Cluny Park Road
Singapore Botanic Gardens