Botanico: Bon viveurs, we've got a game-changer on our hands

Wine-lusters looking to up their game when it comes to food and wine pairings can now look to Botanico's revised wine program for sure-win epicurean dreams. Not that there's anything wrong with a medley of cheeses and cold cuts, but when occasion calls for a little bit of spice, Botanico steps up to the plate; literally, with Chef Sujatha Asokan visiting the spice pots often in an effort to match up to the burgeoning vino activities in the lush space.

A dazzling array of wines encased behind an 8-door glass wine cabinet is the first that greets you at this dining extravaganza. If you're somewhat of a oenophile, you are in the right place. The restaurant has recently took it upon itself to expand its wine program, which now features an impressive 30 labels (all rated 90 points and above). The crux of lunch-time drinking dilemmas lies in the 'wines-by-the-glass' selection which are more often than not, narrow and uninspired. However, with the coravin system and bottle keep program put in place at Botanico... (how else should I put this?)... Pass the flutes please. We might even kick off the merriment with a wicked bit of bubbly.

While you're at it, make sure to chow down on home-grown talent, Chef Sujatha Asokan's fare. It's been lauded as 'contemporary European food with Asian inflections', but we implore you to put your assumptions at bay. It's neither pompous, nor a hard sell in the Mod-Sin category. We'll let you be the judge of it.

You start by battling away at the greens , bearing in mind that you're surrounded by a garden, there's bound to be lots of vegetables and herbs that meander their way onto your plate. The Cauliflower ($10) is propelled to achingly hip status, (let's lay the brown butter to rest, please) with a gentle hide of smokey nuances accented with creamy coats of cañarejal cheese mixture. Cumin dusted almonds silvers plump up the palate with a touch of exoticism. A second ode to vegetables manifests in the next dish of Asparagus tempura ($14), the humble vegetable promoted to a starry role with a puffer coat of tempura batter. Don't hold back on the miso hollandaise, it's the perfect adhesive for the scattering of sesame powder.

One of the most enlightening dishes I've had of late has got to be the Seabass ceviche ($17) [Picture above]. Inspired by the Assam Laksa, this dish is imbued with just enough Asian inflection that pulls it into nouvelle territory without so much as an ounce of pretension. Tamarind dressed glass noodles meets seabass ceviche marinated in green chili,  pomegranate, and shaved ginger flower. The pièce de résistance - that slender quenelle of shrimp paste ice cream that adds an unwavering familiar pungency to the dish. As much as most would warn you against having it on its own, I could and would have a large scoop of that to myself.

There's razzle dazzle in the Sliced Beef Tongue ($20), listed to be served with pickled celeraic, mustard seed caviar, chipotle mayonnaise and fried capers that contribute a fetching crunch. It's rich flavours rounding out the Vie di Romans Dessimis Pinot Grigio which adopts a slight peachy hue from it's contact with the grape skins. It's stone fruit sweetness, dilating into a sophisticated wood-spiced oaky finish.

For heartier options, the protein selection covers the usual suspects of pork, steak and lamb, all executed with an Asian spin off. My money is on the Iberico Char Siew ($34), collapsible soft chunks of top loin, imbued with smoke from the Inka oven  explodes into a hundred layers of sweet, tangy and charred flavours. Ginger, honey, carrots and orange juice, the other components of the dish, add to the distinctive flavor profile of the marinade. For locals, it's immensely recognisable, for the outliers, think of it as barbecue. Also good are the Stockyard Wagyu Petit Tender ($34) served with green sriracha and the 24-hour slow cooked Curry Lamb Neck ($32).

Cocktails fit for a garden party

End your meal off with the Lemongrass Pannacotta with Ginger Ice Cream ($10). While the jiggly soft set lemongrass scented pudding is pleasingly balanced with the minty citrus making waves even through the folds of cream. The real MVP is the ginger ice scream which releases a subtle heat that might be falsely translated to happiness. Yes, wine does have those hallucinogenic effects. A delicate offering of cream cheese ice cream tames charred Sarawak pineapple chunks in the other dessert offering.

If you're one to believe that wine is meant to be savoured, and believe in its innate power to spark epiphanies. Botanico will sustain that mirage of elegance and magic all within delicious realms.

50 Cluny Park Road
t: 9831 1106
Reservations: CHOPE

Operating Hours:
Mon - Tues: Closed
Wed - Fri: 6 - 11pm
Sat - Sun: 11am - 3pm; 6 - 11pm

No comments: