The Botanic is a new fusion restaurant of eclectic Asian flavours and Mediterranean inspirations that is practically a treat for vegetarians and vegans. It offers an array of plant-based plates receiving equal footing on its menu alongside the sustainable meats and seafood.
Nestled in a corner of the Raffles Shopping Centre, The Botanic, inspired by nature, was established in November 2018. Taking the helm is Group Executive Chef Shannon Binnie, who is a protege of celebrity Chef-Restaurateur Luke Mangan. Binnie is also himself a vegan. Says Chef Binnie, “Being vegan myself, I have often struggled with the limitations of dining out. This was the starting point in creating our very own plant-based menu. The creations here are designed to be more substantial, fortified with nutrient dense superfoods, whole grains and punchy sauces and herb oils that pack intense flavours in every bite”. He also works closely with suppliers to lower their plastic use and carbon footprint for a more sustainable dining experience. Once we found out that Chef Binnie is vegan and sustaibaility-focussed, we had to talk to him. Read here our Conversation with Executive Chef Shannon Binnie, where he talks about his culinary passion, the idea behind The Botanic and his favourite restaurants.
We headed there for lunch on a weekday and were not disappointed. The colonial-inspired interior of light grays, greens and earthy browns welcomes you and the plants and botanic features evoke a greenhouse inspired feel. By 1pm, the restaurant was abuzz, which seems to be a testament to the popularity.
The menu has separate vegetarian and vegan sections; I counted at least 11 dishes between the two, so you can be assured of a nice selection. We tried 6 dishes (not counting dessert), 5 of them vegan.
You absolutely have to start off with Kale Salad, Seeds & Grains (S$16++), which is excellent! The fabulous mix of Kale, golden raisins, nuts and seeds, shallots, capers and pomegranate, with a sprinkling of quinoa is extremely well balanced. I especially loved the contrasting flavours of the raisins and pomegranate with capers and scraped every last bit off my plate. Has to feature among some of the best salads I’ve had. And if you’d like to whip this up in your own kitchen, Chef Binnie has also contributed the recipe here – Vegan Recipe: Kale Salad, Seeds & Grains.
Do try the Guacamole (S$14++) which is served alongside a crispy Tostada, and topped with charred corn. It does not taste like your everyday guacamole – it is light and refreshing, has no overpowering avocado taste and uses pickled jalapeño to give it a slight punch.
If you love Asian flavours, go for the Pressed Tofu, a dish of fried tofu on a bed of grilled king brown mushrooms and cashew nuts, topped with greens. The highlight of the dish though is the Sichuan dressing; mild, tangy and tasty. I’m not a big fan of tofu, but this is silky and just melts in your mouth.
Next up, the distinctly Mediterranean Charred Eggplant (S$18++) is a complete turn-around from the Tofu. The eggplant tastes a bit bland by itself, but it is loaded with tahini, chickpeas, chermoula and fresh herbs and you’ve got to scoop up all the layers to enjoy the dish.
Moving on to Italian, the Gnocchi (S$25++) is bursting with flavours, an absolute must! If I had to pick a favourite from the meal, this would be it. The dumplings simply melt in your mouth, tasting more like cheese than potatoes. The Gnocchi is loaded with asparagus, peas and pine nuts, sprinkled with fennel pollen and preserved lemon that adds a kick and cuts through the dish. An amalgamation of many flavours that come together beautifully! Kids should love this dish too. Note: The Gnocchi is Vegetarian.
We rounded off our mains with the Red Curry (S$23++). Again, an interesting jump from an Italian dish to a Thai curry. The Red Curry is a mildly spiced, tangy coconut-based curry loaded with vegetables and served alongside flavourful turmeric rice.
This move from Western to Asian to Middle Eastern to Italian to Thai cuisines is a part of the experience at The Botanic, an experience that we really enjoyed.
Those with a sweet tooth will appreciate the vegan-friendly Chendol Pavlova, where the chefs turn the Australian classic Pavlova into a locally-inspired rendition with coconut, jackfruit granita, salted gula melaka, and haru manis mango from Indonesia. The meringue is done with coconut cream and aqua faba (instead of eggs) and is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. As is to be expected, the meringue does taste a bit too sweet on its own, so do have it with the works.
From fabulous plant-based dining to eco-conscious wines and a nature-inspired setting, everything about The Botanic is just perfect. I would go back in a heartbeat!
Related: In Conversation with Executive Chef Shannon Binnie, The Botanic, Singapore
Related: Vegan Recipe: Kale Salad, Seeds & Grains by Chef Shannon Binnie, The Botanic
The Botanic: 252 North Bridge Rd, #01-22A, Raffles City Shopping Centre, Singapore 179103. P: +65 6837 0995