Weets Eats: Botanico's easy on the eyes and palate
The 1-Group has a wonderful habit of turning old buildings into dining destinations, giving these buildings new life and diners more options.
It just launched The Summerhouse in a house built in the 1930s at Seletar Aerospace Park.
And the latest takes it up a notch.
The Garage at Singapore Botanic Gardens is a 1920s garage located near the entrance of the Unesco World Heritage Site.
Like The Summerhouse, The Garage also houses two restaurants. On the ground floor is the casual cafe Bee's Knees.
It does not matter how sweaty you are, if you are jogging by and get struck with a sudden desire for a cup of coffee, you will be welcomed.
Just as casual - but please do not turn up in cycling tights for dinner - is Botanico, which serves simple and casual dishes that are easy on the eyes and easier still on the palate.
Take the Instagram-perfect Smoked Sardines ($20).
The Japanese sardines are smoked in-house, with a delicious cream and croutons - fried in Iberico fat - lifting the experience.
Because the menu is based on the seasons, you might end up with mackerel instead. But that will not change your experience.
If you are into sheep's cheese, the Idiazabal Croquettes ($14) is perfect for you. Idiazabal is a raw unpasteurised sheep's milk cheese from the Basque Country. It is creamy and the aroma is heavenly.
The Calamarito ($12) is a simple dish that works. The squid is not marinated, just coated in tempura flour and deep fried.
The sauce, a seaweed aoli, is full of umami flavours.
The Chargrilled Carabinero ($28) is my favourite dish here.
Carabinero is a red Spanish prawn and may be in the name of the dish, but it is the diced pork trotters in the accompanying mellow rice that makes this special. The rice is perfumed by saffron and the pork trotters add smoothness.
Although I am a fan of scallops, the Japanese Scallops ($27) was merely competent for me.
In a menu full of amazing dishes, this lacked personality, even though Iberico lard was used to heighten the flavour of the scallops.
I could still finish a bowl of the Jerusalem artichoke chips that came with it though.
Botanico at The Garage
WHERE: 50, Cluny Park Road (Singapore Botanic Gardens)
OPENING HOURS: Open Wednesdays to Sundays, 6pm to 10pm
Dessert cafe Sunday Folks (Chip Bee Gardens, Tel: 6479-9166) has introduced a new line of handcrafted chocolate slabs in three flavours at $15 each.
They are studded with handmade candies, nuts and dried fruit.
The White has rose marshmallow and raspberries and the Milk comes with passion fruit apricot pate de fruit and roasted hazelnuts.
The Dark has candied orange peel and burnt butter Viennese cookies.
Fusion restaurant Morsels, formerly at Mayo Street, has a new home at 25, Dempsey Road (Tel: 6266-3822).
Of course, the signatures are still around, such as the steamed Venus clams ($24), and charred octopus ($26).
But do look out for new dishes such as Kasu-Cured Hiramasa Kingfish ($22) and Burnt Somen ($18).
Your business lunch should be quite sizzling, now that Hooters will open its The Sail Marina Bay outlet tomorrow.
Food may not be the reason why some people flock to Hooters, but it is famous for its chicken wings.
Kam's Roast (Pacific Plaza, Tel: 6836-7788) has introduced two Hong Kong staples to its Singapore outlet: The cured goose liver and lean pork sausages. A portion is $8.80. You can order the mixed sausage platter for the same price.