Botanico serves simple and delicious dishes

The Japanese sardines are smoked in-house.
The Japanese sardines are smoked in-house. PHOTO: YEOH WEE TECK
The seaweed aioli dip for the calamaritos is full of umami.
The seaweed aioli dip for the calamaritos is full of umami. PHOTO: YEOH WEE TECK
Diced pork trotters in the rice accompanying the Carabinero prawns lift the dish.
Diced pork trotters in the rice accompanying the Carabinero prawns lift the dish. PHOTO: YEOH WEE TECK
The scallops dish lacked personality.
The scallops dish lacked personality. PHOTO: YEOH WEE TECK
The Idiazabal Croquettes are creamy and the aroma of the sheep's milk cheese is heavenly.
The Idiazabal Croquettes are creamy and the aroma of the sheep's milk cheese is heavenly. PHOTO: YEOH WEE TECK

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.

  • BOTANICO AT THE GARAGE

  • Where: 50, Cluny Park Road (Singapore Botanic Gardens)
    Opening hours: Open Wednesdays to Sundays, 6pm to 10pm
    Tel: 9831-1106

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. PHOTO: YEOH WEE TECK

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.

The Idiazabal Croquettes are creamy and the aroma of the sheep's milk cheese is heavenly. PHOTO: YEOH WEE TECK

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 seaweed aioli dip for the calamaritos is full of umami. PHOTO: YEOH WEE TECK

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.

Diced pork trotters in the rice accompanying the Carabinero prawns lift the dish. PHOTO: YEOH WEE TECK

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.

The scallops dish lacked personality. PHOTO: YEOH WEE TECK

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.