The “Takeover Series” at Botanik Bistro and Bar had their first pop-up dinner on the 24th of June with Meat Smith Singapore manning the kitchen. The food by Meat Smith was an eclectic amalgam of urban grunge coming from its Southern American style barbecued meat, and exoticism coming from the Indian spices used. Overall, I’d say the food was pretty amazing, with flavour combinations one wouldn’t think of, let alone expect to see on a plate.
The Lagoon Crab Coconut Croquette and Caviar was the first to be served off the menu. The slight saltiness of the caviar went well with the crab croquette, making it an enjoyable dish overall.
The Lamb Sausage came next, which was also a great starter, with the perfect amount of smokiness to it. At this point, I’d like to add that they smoked the meat over American hickory wood, a favourite among Southern and Midwestern states in the US. They used this in specific as it gives the meat smoked over it a unique flavouring.
Fun fact alert: the type of wood used to smoke meat gives the meat distinctive flavouring due to unique burning points and compositions of the wood.
The Crispy Fish Taco was by far my favourite starter, which is saying something coming from a non-fan of fish. Although the fish wasn’t crispy as promised, it was still delicious when combined with the slightly spicy madras, vegetables and soft taco shell.
The stuffed Chicken Wing and Coconut Chutney were also savoury. What stood out was how the juiciness of the chicken meat was juxtaposed by the dryness (in the best possible way) of the slightly spiced coconut chutney. The coconut chutney itself was slightly reminiscent of sambols made here in Sri Lanka.
The Kerala Chili Quail was the first main to be served. The dish consisted of fried quail, garnished with roasted red chilies, cashew and curry leaves. While it wasn’t my favourite dish, the quail on its own was appetizing. The spiciness wasn’t infused into the meat of the quail, so to get that spicy kick you’d have to team a mouthful of quail meat with some roasted red chilies which then, had the tendency to become it too spicy. While this wasn’t the dish for me, extreme spice lovers may gravitate towards this dish.
Next, the Smoked Lamb Shank Bossam with butterhead lettuce, lemongrass kimichi, paired with a rasam vinegar as a complementary sauce. The meat was soft, juicy, perfectly smoked and came off the bone with ease- not an easy feat to achieve in the culinary world. The spicy Indian rasam vinegar contrasted nicely with the lamb meat and was an overall enjoyable dish.
The Smoked Prime Rib with chimi chutney and gunpowder potatoes was my favourite dish out of the mains. The meat was done extremely rare and was incredibly succulent and went surprisingly well with the spicy hot chimi chutney, which I can best describe as being evocative of our very own Sri Lankan ‘minchi sambol’- so you can understand my surprise at this curious combination of meat and sauce. The gunpowder potato side dish was also flavourful with the gunpowder seasoning giving the potatoes (fried) a tangy, salty flavour. While I must nitpick at its’ presentation, the Smoked Prime Rib was one amazing dish.
The Beetroot Cake and Walnut Ice Cream was an interesting dessert and one I liked very much. The beetroot cake in itself was not sweet and had an earthy, nutty flavour to it. The walnut ice cream topped with what seemed like honey gave the dessert its sweetness.
The Smoked Cashew Tart with mascarpone cream and cocoa nibs was my favourite dessert. The smoked cashew tart had an incredible nutty, salty flavour and the velvety, sweet, richness of the mascarpone and bitterness of the cocoa nibs really brought this dessert together. The saltiness, sweetness and bitterness of the different elements of the dessert struck a nice balance, making this dessert particularly great.
Guests could choose from a Jack Daniel’s Fire or Honey bourbon mixed with house ginger-beer. While I didn’t get to try the Jack Daniel’s Fire version, the Honey version was extremely tasty. The drink was sweet and refreshing and made a super cocktail.
By Suhashana Wijayaratna
Pics from Botanik