Chef Silvena Rowe has done it all in the culinary world – been a judge on Masterchef, cooked for celebrities, authored cookbooks, and even created recipes for the likes of Waitrose. After 32 years in the food business, she is no stranger to the impact food habits can have on one’s body. “We are what we eat and I want to be fit and strong. Food is one of the major factors that contribute to an individual’s energy levels. By eating smarter, and including superfoods in my diet and restricting dairy intake, I have more energy and I feel better than I did 10 years ago,” says Silvena.
Her latest venture, Al Botanica, in Jumeirah Golf Estates, reflects her passion for plant-based foods. The first thing you’ll notice are the hanging potted plants. “I wanted this space to have a natural vibe and the green symbolises the healthy, green, vegan and vegetarian food we offer here besides a few non-vegetarian dishes,” explains Silvena. Although the menu was influenced by eastern Mediterranean flavours, it features dishes from Asian and Arabic cultures.
The purple power salad with roasted baby red and yellow beetroots and crunchy salad leaves is a great option for a starter. The sweetness of the beets is balanced by the saltiness of the goat’s cheese and the roasted shallot vinaigrette. If avocado on multigrain toast is your thing, then this dish is sure to please. Topped with flaxseeds and served with a side of cherry tomatoes, it is a meal in itself. If you do pop in for breakfast (or dessert), don’t forget to order the açaí bowl featuring bright fruit and home-made granola and fresh coconut shavings. Other vegan, gluten- and sugar-free treats include the raw vegan berry cheesecake jars and a vegan chocolate & zucchini cake. Wash it down with one of the speciality shakes such as wild milk, made from banana, vanilla, almond milk and maple syrup.
Silvena’s favourite vegan dishes on the café’s menu include the shakshuka, ice creams and a kale and aubergine lasagne. We’re definitely going to try those the next time we’re at Al Botanica for a meal.