The straightforward yet delicious menu is highlighted by quality produce

Housed within the Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay, the verdant and brand new Hortus (formerly known as The Fennel Cafe) is the address for a sharing feast that celebrates the bright, fresh flavours of the Mediterranean. It’s perfect when you’re in Singapore’s cool sun-washed dome against the most vibrant floral background possible, all inspired by the terraces of the Mediterranean. 

Owned and helmed by Chef Michael Wilson, in partnership with Unlisted Collection, the heart of Mediterranean cooking is reflected in simple dishes thoughtfully prepared to highlight the inherent deliciousness of quality produce.
 


 

So expect a menu that is straightforward, uncomplicated yet delicious; essentially reflective of the kind of food that Wilson would eat and serve if you came to a barbecue in his own home.

Refreshing salads, dips and home-baked breads alongside heartier mains, tagines and rustic dishes straight off the wood grill are served on blue and white plates sourced specially, completing the colourful Mediterranean experience. 
 


 

Whether ordering individually or sharing plates, you can’t go wrong when starting off with a selection of dips that include muhammara (a spread of charcoal roasted bell pepper, pomegranate molasses and walnuts); taramasalata (smoked cod roe from Greece blended with garlic and almonds) to enjoy with house-baked pita; and Pane Carasau, a crisp Sardinian flatbread. 

Other small plate highlights include the Amberjack Crudo featuring thin slices of fresh amberjack dressed with pomegranate, mint, dill and extra virgin olive oil before being finished with pomegranate molasses and bottarga.

Vibrant vegetable dishes and salads include a refreshing watermelon salad with confit Kalamata olives (the olives are cooked with preserved lemon, chilli, garlic, olive oil and rosemary), Greek feta, with thinly sliced red onions, fresh mint and basil.
 


 

For larger plates, choose between the quintessential Tunisian Shakshuka and the equally sumptuous and traditional Cilbir, where Turkish eggs are served over sheep’s yoghurt, dill, brown butter and Aleppo pepper, accompanied by freshly grilled asparagus.

Another must-try is the Venus Clams, simply steamed with raki (an alcoholic drink from Turkey made from twice distilled grapes and anise), garlic and olive oil to showcase the beautiful, briny flavours of the ocean. It is perfectly complemented by the house-baked pita to mop up all that garlicky goodness.
 


 

Alternatively, Hortus also doubles as the perfect venue for afternoon tea or just coffee and cake. Diners can choose from the gorgeous display of cakes, pastries and tarts on daily rotation, or go for the more leisurely seasonal Afternoon Tea Set (served from 3pm to 5pm) featuring an array of sweets, savouries and Devonshire scones to be enjoyed with Jing tea or coffee. Think Confit Tomato Tarts, Gougeres, Coconut and Rose Lamingtons, Financiers with Fennel Pollen, and more dainty delights.


Hortus is located at #01-09 Flower Dome, 8 Marina Gardens Dr., Singapore 018953. More information available here. A version of this article first appeared on Epicure.