By Abigail Mawhinney
The One&Only Reethi Rah is an ultra-luxury villa resort set on one of the largest private islands in the Maldives. An enchanting hideaway that offers its guests a luxuriously personable experience like no other, it is also known for its fine on-site cuisine.
As of this year, the resort is home to “Botanica by Brent Savage”: an alfresco restaurant that champions all-natural fresh ingredients with a twist. Delve into our synopsis of this unique, atmospheric dining experience and you’ll find yourself yearning to book that next flight to the Maldives...
Brent Savage is one of Australia’s most influential and distinguished chefs. With a reputation for creatively contemporary cuisine and a masterful grasp of flavour and texture, he is especially renowned for his inventive vegetarian menus. Having recognised the demand for modern vegetarian cuisine early in his career, he has rapidly established himself as an industry leader in the conception of innovative plant-based dishes of impeccable quality.
During his first visit to the One&Only resort in 2018, Savage felt inspired by the abundance of natural produce available; this is how Botanica was born.
Botanica showcases an all-natural, garden-to-fork concept.
The vast majority of ingredients are sourced from the restaurant’s bountiful gardens, overflowing with fresh vegetables and fragrant herbs and spices. The menu also boasts rare and delicious fish such as lobster, octopus and reef fish, most of which are sustainably sourced from local fishermen.
Just a handful of the tantalising dishes that feature on this fine menu include Pickled Wakame, Maldivian Rock Lobster, Sea Succulents and Finger Lime. The mouth-watering concoctions are carefully prepared in such a way that they retain their distinctive flavours and natural goodness, before being cooked over an open-air charcoal barbeque that grants a distinctly palatable tang.
Through this innovative farm-to-table approach, Botanica presents inspired dishes that are entirely comprised of healthy, sustainably sourced ingredients. This isn’t just a dream for vegetarians (or pescatarians), but a unique culinary experience that will delight the senses of any gastronome.
And another tidbit of good news for us to relish... Savage is keen to expand and diversify this menu as time goes on. He has recently commented, “I am looking forward to working closely with the in-house gardeners to grow more varieties of vegetables to showcase at Botanica.” What’s next to be included on this divine menu?
If the food isn’t enticing enough... guests can also enjoy an exquisite variety of liquid refreshments.
Neil Hildrebrandt , seasoned sommelier and co-owner of the Bentley Restaurant Group (along with Savage), has curated an extensive wine list for diners to peruse. Featuring a mixture of iconic wines from Europe and rising stars from Australia, it makes for a dreamy selection for any wine connoisseur.
In addition, the restaurant’s Gin Bar showcases a variety of more than 40 different gins from around the world. With flavour profiles ranging from sweet and subtle to zesty and aromatic, these can be perfectly paired with the natural flavours within your chosen dish, enhancing your experience with every bite.
As nature intended: the concept is already brought to life through the plant-based menu, but it is the setting that offers the exquisite finishing touch. Guests can choose to dine al fresco amidst the fresh vegetables and herbs, enjoying the scents and the atmospheric glow of natural candlelight; or they may prefer to sit amongst the hundreds of colourful blooms within the Orchid House.
Savage himself has described the unique backdrop to this culinary experience: “Botanica is a really exciting place to cook - I love that the restaurant is in the middle of the island, the space has a jungle-like feel as it is surrounded by established organic vegetable and herb gardens which supply produce that we integrate in the menu.”
As nature intended. It is truly a place to experience the natural world around you with every one of your five senses.