The hype: No longer the sultry Salt Tapas & Bar it once was for six years, The Botanic, still under the same group, has an all-new look and feel following chef-restauranteur Luke Mangan’s departure from the Salt brands. In its place is a brightly lit, glasshouse-inspired setup with an expert focus on conscious eating and sustainability; completely unrecognisable from its predecessor, perhaps even for the better.
The vibe: It’s hard to miss the grassy green restaurant sitting on the outskirts of Raffles City. Boasting a colonial-meets-glasshouse decor, the place is instantly inviting both to girlfriends wanting a nippy brunch date in the city, and colleagues gathering for after-work cocktails. Take a seat in the airy interior or people-watch on the alfresco.
The food: To match the theme, Chefs Shannon Binnie and Ken Deng have created a stunning menu of sustainably sourced, plant-based eats that even vegans and vegetarians can enjoy. The menu itself is thoughtfully divided into “Vegan”, “Vegetarian”, “Seafood” and “Meats” sections, so you won’t have to fuss with clarifying dietary restrictions.
That said, the meat-free options are commendably flavourful, and make up some of The Botanic’s best offerings. Kale critics be gone; The Botanic’s vegan Kale Salad ($16) is an addictive toss of greens, raisins and pomegranate that will have you shoveling it by the spoonful. Also good is the non-starchy Gnocchi ($25) topped generously with ricotta and parmesan; and the perfectly gooey Free Range Scotch Egg ($15) featuring falafel, tabouli and yoghurt. The Mediterranean influence is a clear thread that runs through the entire menu.
Fret not—meat dishes here are no less appetizing. The Harissa Spiced Spatchcock ($29) elevates your standard grilled chicken with labneh, smokey eggplant and verde, and is roasted till a perfect texture. If you like your seafood, then the Grilled Squid ($22) is a must—there’s a distinct smokey taste to the inked rice and squid, with a welcome spice from the sea herbs.
And don’t sit on the prettily plated desserts. The Chendol Pavlova ($12) is an Asian-inspired dream of coconut, jackfruit granite and mango; though we prefer the Baklava ($14)—not the actual sticky block—but a fruity creation of yoghurt, filo, pistachio and strawberries drizzled with organic leatherwood honey.
The drinks: The conscious cuisine extends to the beverage programme, which boasts natural and organic wines from Australia, and herbaceous cocktails like their signature The Botanic ($18)—a mix of gin-infused lemongrass, basil, and shaken egg whites. Get tipsy at the adjoining bar, which also stocks an extensive range of whiskys and spirits.
The Revitalising Teas too make use of organically sourced herbs. It’s a pretty penny to pay, but the easy-drinking Camomile Ginger Lavender Tea ($14) will perk you up instantly on a rainy, fluey day.
Why you’ll be back: The Botanic makes conscious eating exciting, in a modern, beautiful space in the heart of the city. Now this is how you do a revamp.