Inside Botanica Cafe and Diner | All The Deets
South Bombay residents know that the Sukh Sagar-Chowpatty area is packed with restaurants that are dedicatedly vegetarian-friendly. Botanica is a newly opened vegetarian restaurant serving a multi-cuisine menu, featuring a mix of Asian, Mexican, European and Indian food.
A reasonably quick cab ride from home led me to the restaurant, which I was so happy about; spending the day away from my office in Andheri was so refreshing! On top of that, I was about to have an entirely vegetarian meal, which I don’t do too often, but was excited to do. Botanica is a moderately small space made with super fresh interior elements. The place has a very millennial feel to it, with pastel pink furniture sprinkled with tropical vibes and neon lights.
My companions and I started our lunch with a couple of mocktails – a Watermelon and Basil Spritzer, a Botanical Cooler, and a Butterfly on Flower. Of the three, the first two were fizzy and fruity while the last just tasted like flavoured water.
We started with a simple and familiar Watermelon and Feta salad, perfect for Mumbai’s humidity and heat, and an Asian Delight Salad which was a salad made with smoked glass noodles with vegetables in a simple soya chilli dressing. Contrasting with the watermelon and feta salad, we enjoyed the Asian Delight but did not find it to be as flavourful and memorable.
The first appetiser we had was probably one of my favourite parts of the meal – the Zucchini and Cheese Rolls. Thin rolls of zucchini were stuffed with a beautiful, lush mixture of cheddar and cottage cheese. Each mouthful was an absolute cheesy blast without it feeling too heavy or greasy. The Rajma Galouti was a nice vegetarian version of the original mutton kebab. Its texture was creamy, soft and the flavour was spicy, much like the authentic non-vegetarian variety which was very impressive. It did not feel like vegetables trying too hard to impress!
Touching on the Asian elements of the menu, we had an assortment of dim sum, and an order of their fast selling sushi burgers. Though I try hard to keep an open mind, when it comes to dim sum and sushi, I lean towards their non-vegetarian varieties, so in all honesty, I would have probably enjoyed these more if I’d been vegetarian all my life! The dim sum was really flavoursome, but were definitely not the best I’ve had. The sushi burgers were small slider-like bites of cottage cheese slices between Japanese sushi rice. It’s an intriguing order for sure, but I felt that there wasn’t any real standout flavour making this dish quite forgettable.
Before we moved on to the main-course, we checked out the Botanical Bloom Bread, a Chef’s recommendation, which was basically an upgrade from a garlic bread. It was essentially a simple pull-apart cheese bread, and a fun side-order for a large table.
From the mains, we had their pasta dish called Italy to Thailand, which was a bowl of al dente penne in a red Thai curry…which weirdly made sense because they just replaced the Thai carbs with Italian carbs. This serving of pasta was an innovative amalgamation of comfort food in a bowl from two very distinct food cultures.
Their Jackfruit Biryani isn’t one to miss if you’re a hard-core meat lover who finds themselves in an all-veg restaurant. The jackfruit lends the meatiness to the flavoured rice that it so desperately needs. This biryani could easily be in the running to become your bae-riyani.
We decided to end our meal on dessert and went for their Basundi with Rose Caviar. Though this was very thick and more like a rabdi, it was a tasty dish. The rose caviar was just present to mix up the textures (it wasn’t really caviar, since it’s a veg restaurant!). Finally, we also shared a portion of a Melting Chocolate Cake that was warm and gooey on the inside, and came with a little scoop of vanilla ice cream. I prefer this one to the basundi for its sheer simplicity!
On the Wednesday afternoon that we visited, Botanica was packed, and the wait-list for a table was long, too! It was clear that in the short span since its opening, it has already become a local favourite, attracting families from the area. I’d go back here for a family meal, too. The standout dishes for me were the Zucchini and Cheese Rolls, the Rajma Galouti Kebabs and the Jackfruit Biryani. I’m looking forward to heading here with vegetarian companions who might just be shocked when I suggest we go here instead of to a restaurant serving meat!