The Garage is a collective name for two places: Bee’s Knees, a café, and Botanico, tagged a bistro. A modest misnomer surely, for its modern interiors, with its well spaced-out seating arrangements and high ceilings, looks more than casual to us.
Outside, the al-fresco area is every Singaporean’s dream come true: it is air-conditioned. Yes, technology has blessed Botanico with the fresh coolness of a temperate country while being completely outdoors. Occasionally, an unruly surge of humid wind punctuates the cold cocoon, jolting us back to reality. Otherwise, it makes for a pretty surreal experience to be having post dinner cocktails surrounded by Botanic Garden’s verdant residents without breaking into a sweat.
￼￼￼My dining companion has lived in Spain before, so naturally we ordered the Idiazabal Croquettes ($14). The beautifully fried duo, topped with chorizo slices, stunned him and his “trained in Spain” tastebuds into silence – every bite yielded a hot, savoury mouthful of cheese. Made from sheep’s milk, the Idiazabal cheese was robust and had a smoky aftertaste, which was lovely.
We regretted not tucking into the Smoked Sardines ($20) before the croquettes, as the lingering tang from the cheese overpowered the delicate smoked fish, which sat pretty on a bed of croutons and Kyoho grapes, with ajo blanco (a garlic and almond emulsion) drizzled over.
￼￼Everyone loves a good slab of quivering pork belly, and Botanico’s rendition of Chargrilled Iberico pork belly ($26) went down a treat. As we were enjoying the hog so much, other elements in the dish, such as carrots, were a hazy memory.
Chargrilled Carabinero ($28) was served with a risotto, which was brightly hued and flavoured with saffron, and swimming in an almost bisque-like concoction. Delicious. The prawns though, didn’t quite live up to its hype as “one of the world’s best tasting prawns”, mainly due to the fact that they were rather small and sadly, missing its heads (we love a good prawn head suck).
Ed’s note: The photo of this dish is a press image as ours did it no justice.
We were also told by the friendly servers that the “prawn head went into the risotto” when queried. Fair enough – no wonder the rice was so tasty.
If you dislike ginger the way I do, by all means stay away from the Ceiba ($14), as the ginger flavour present in the ice cream is strong. However, with steady hands, I managed to manoeuvre around the offensive bits and was rewarded with blissful bites of chocolate and surprisingly, bits of rosella, which was refreshing. My dining companion, a ginger fiend, found the balance of ginger and chocolate just right.
￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼50 Cluny Park Road. Tel: 6264 7978