Colombo, Sri Lanka is beginning to make a name for itself in more ways than one. Of course the coastal city has the weather, beachfront and history on its side. All of this however, seems predictable given its emerging gourmet food movement which is inaudibly making Colombo a serious contender in the arena.
Botanik Bistro and Bar
Botanik Bistro and Bar has thrown its hat into the ring with a menu curated by Michelin starred chef Rishi Naleendra. It sits on the 6th floor rooftop of Fairway Colombo Hotel in the commercial district of Fort. The restaurant and bar signals a fearless departure from the failsafe palm trees and elephants school of thought prevalent on the island. It’s an elegant, ethereal space capturing the magnificent rise and fall of Fort’s skyline. The terrace, served by a striking 34-foot Moroccan tiled bar, faces the World Trade Centre dominating the view. As I sat under the dark sky on the bar’s terrace I felt the unmistakable scent of the sea glide past me in a warm caress of a breeze. Botanik evidently is here to entice a new breed of patronage; the free-spirited with a taste for luxury. The relaxed atmosphere by no means indicating a laissez-faire attitude to dining.
I enjoyed a surreal evening of cocktails and dinner at Botanik. A starter of Sri Lankan buffalo mozzarella, green house tomato and anchovies served with basil was an utter delight. I was unsure of what to expect of the mozzarella as I’d only previously tasted its Italian counterpart. In terms of colour, texture and porosity it was faultless. Coupled with salty anchovies and basil the dish was a joy.
My main of 12 hour lamb shoulder was served on roasted carrots, watercress and mint. This sure-fire crowd-pleaser didn’t disappoint. The tender lamb pulled away gently against my fork with the watercress and mint adding a feisty flavour to the palette. The star of the night for me however, was the chickpeas and feta salad served as a side. It was a fine balance of taste and texture which is not always achieved in basic dishes. This was a Mediterranean classic perfectly conquered at Botanik.
I wrapped up my evening with lemon cheesecake served with the unsung hero of chocolate; chocolate crumb. It was clever use of a basic ingredient which added interest to a heavenly dessert contributing the perfect ending to an exquisite meal.
The genius in this menu lay in its simplicity. At any given point there were no more than three to four main ingredients on my plate. Yet their combination was so well accomplished that the results delivered an unforgettably refined dining experience. Proof that well sourced ingredients cooked with passion need no gimmicks. I followed my meal with a night-cap at the bar as I sat overlooking the bright lights of the city at night. It was as perfect a Colombo night as I could have ever wished for.
Botanik is located at 7, Hospital Street, Colombo 10, Sri Lanka. For more information visit: www.botanik.lk