Botanica Cafe And Diner Is Opera House’s Newest Haven For Vegetarians
Being the new kid on the block comes with its own excitement and trials and the defining factor of South Mumbai’s newest eatery — a stone’s throw from Royal Opera House — is an experimental menu, which brings together European, Asian and Indian foods with a twist. Armed with a vegetarian menu and non-alcoholic concoctions from mixologist Gaurish Rangnekar, Botanica Cafe and Diner is well-located and hard to miss, even if you’re just driving by.
Walking in, we’re greeted by a space that’s cosy and well-lit owing to the floor-to-ceiling glass windows that line one side of the diner. As soon as we settle down, piping hot cups of palate-cleansing peppermint tea are brought to the table – just a sip being enough to kick-start our meal. Setting the mood for what’s to come our way, a vibrant blue beverage menu offers a selection of drinks, teas and coffee, while the other food menu leaves us spoilt for choice. To begin with, we pair the watermelon and basil spritzer with a beetroot and kokum gazpacho. The botanical cooler, meanwhile, goes with the Asian Delight – smoked glass noodles and vegetables tossed in a soya chilli dressing. The drinks and food are all as pleasing to the eye as they are to the palate and while the refreshing watermelon spritzer emerges as the favourite around the table, the noodles bring with them an interesting blend of taste and texture.
On to our next selection of appetisers, dim sums and sushi get the collective thumbs up from all, while tacos, baos and the zucchini cheese wraps find their way onto our table too. While the bean stuffing in the tacos is quite flavourful, the shells could use some more attention. A tower of cottage cheese chunks and the Asian spiced cottage cheese baos are next to arrive. The former – Asian spiced cottage cheese – are bite-sized chunks wearing a delicious glaze of the chef’s special cashew nut chilli sauce, while the latter is marinated in a tempting Thai chilli sambal giving it a little something sweet and spicy. The mixed Asian veggie dim sums come next, the two accompanying chutneys offering a sound balance of Indian and Asian flavours. And the avocado, asparagus and cream cheese sushi – was perfectly complemented by the gari and wasabi.
All’s well that ends well
With little room in our stomachs but an extensive menu of mains before us, we carefully select our next portions – a Greek pizza peppered with spinach, caramelised onions and feta cheese, a sumptuous aglio olio sautéed in spices and garlic, and a mushroom risotto, which comes with an umbrella of delicious parmesan cheese! A full belly, it turns out, is not a deterrent to dig into some dessert, and we find that we are still tempted to sample some sweet afters and while the melting chocolate cake is something we’ll have to return for, the Asian ganache with lemongrass and raspberry, and the basundi with rose caviar turn out to be pretty great alternatives.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner, or over a tête-à-tête with friends, Botanica has something for everyone at any time of the day. For foodies who don’t mind a strictly vegetarian meal, this should be where you head on your next outing to this side of the city.