Selecting a lunch venue on a Monday afternoon is somewhat a confusing task in Colombo because of menu options and time restrictions. Having ‘googled’ we came across a venue with a unique sounding name. Located on level 8 of the Fairway Hotel, the Botanik is a culinary destination making raves in Colombo. As you walk into the restaurant the lovely tropical wallpaper captures your mind. I found out that this amazing artwork depicting an assortment of exotic trees, birds and butterflies was done by a 19 year old. The sunlight flows into the venue, supplemented by a cool breeze. A nice mix of modern and rustic charm. On one side of the venue it opens out to a rooftop bar and a cluster of cozy sofas. Botanik is a lovely amalgamation of a bistro and up market café. From here the twin towers of the World Trade Centre zoom into view. Walking further the city skyline rises majestically.

Coming back into the restaurant we try a lime cooler- a refreshing concoction of lime, pineapple and basil, a must try beverage on a hot afternoon. Botanik has a high selling point. Its menu of comfort food is curated by Rishi Naleendra, the first Sri Lankan Chef to be awarded a Michelin star for culinary excellence in Singapore. The menu is brought to life by head chef Viraj Sameera and his team of young chefs, whose cooking skills can be observed via the large show kitchen. The lunch menu is a reflection of thoughtful preparation. The appetizer was a roasted beetroot with crispy wild rice and hummus. The latter gives a nice aftertaste. Next, we are served a poached chicken salad; the presentation is a work of art. For our main course we opted Mahi Mahi (fish) covered with bonito butter resting on a bed of caramelized onions. The texture and taste was something new and appreciated. This was supplemented with a 12 hour slow cooked lamb and risotto. The lamb is probably the best I have tasted in Colombo in a very long time. The meat was cooked to a perfect level of tenderness with juices oozing from every side.

Lamb is a good alternate option to other meats, and should be seen in our menus via our markets: although it is costly in comparison to chicken or beef.

A steward brings a plate of focaccia bread, with a fusion butter that is mixed with seeni sambol- another interesting twist to a local relish. The bread was mildly dry but once coated with the butter, it was good. Eating here promotes a concept of ‘order to share” where a group of friends can order the dishes they desire and then sample from each other. Food does have the power to build and sustain good fellowship. Having had this artisan’s lunch the dessert option was cheesecake. Here, Chef Viraj surprised us by presenting the cheesecake served in 2 large scoops, instead of the regular wedge. It was fresh, cool and garnished with a caramelized peach. Botanik is a new breath of creative dining in Colombo. It is a concept of Nadeem Rajabdeen and Dmitri Jayasuriya, two young men passionate about creative cuisine. 


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