Featuring sustainable cuisine, this healthy restaurant at the new Summerhouse gets a (green) thumbs up from us
Contrary to popular belief, our lil’ island isn’t completely devoid of arable land. If you know where to look, you’ll find a group of local, dedicated growers who are strong advocates of farm-to-table dining – a healthy and sustainable food trend that we could use more of. Carrying the torch of farm-to-table dining is Chef de Cuisine Florian Ridder, who brings his deft culinary hand, agricultural knowledge and Michelin-star experience in his own unique (and ethical) take of regional cuisine at The Summerhouse Dining Room.
Period dramas are made of these
The Summerhouse itself is charming, what with the impressive restoration effort and the history within its walls (in another life, it was the home of a Royal Airforce tech wing commander). But once you take in the surrounding edible garden and trek upstairs to its all-white dining room (the kitchen even has its own set of French-shutter doors), the magic sets in, and it’s hard not to feel like you’re on a set of a Downton Abbey-esque period drama.
Cocktails are a must-try
To start things off, we ordered a round of drinks from sister bar, Wildseed. The beetroot hibiscus sling came highly recommended, but it was the masala chai tea (a warm, aromatic bourbon bevvie that could very well be a rich man’s Long Island Ice Tea) that hit all the right spots during that chilly, rainy evening on which we visited.
Local ingredients take the spotlight
Considering Chef Florian’s chummy relationship with the local kelong (think of these as old-school fishing platforms), it wasn’t surprising that the first dish served was Kelong Rojak, a prawn served straight from the sea, grilled and dusted with burnt lemon powder and pistachio. The freshness was unmistakable right from the first bite, while the tangy Thai basil sauce gave the prawn that extra kick.
This overarching theme of local ingredients continued in subsequent (notably meat-less) dishes like the beetroot, panzanella and buckwheat porridge. Slice open the beetroot, and you’ll find a surprise in the centre – a ricotta filling with fried onions, black sesame and barley puffs. It’ll make you rethink beetroot as just another salad topping, and is a welcome respite from other been-there-done-that vegetables.
Next came the grouper (also courtesy of the kelong) that comes lightly sprinkled with breadcrumbs and belachan, and elegantly plated with carrot pesto, orange blossom hollandaise, nasturtium and belachan prawn reduction. Personally, I felt that the ambitious homage to the Southeast Asian staple, belachan (shrimp paste), felt a tad misplaced, especially when combined with the hollandaise.
We finished it off with flower, an aromatic and palate-cleansing dessert. It featured a grilled and hickory-smoked rambutan that ended the night on a floral note – aptly named, this dish!
The Summerhouse Dining Room is a must-visit for food connoisseurs who are eager to re-discover homegrown produce that would normally be overlooked. And for couples, the picturesque setting and top-notch tipples (the beetroot hibiscus sling is a must-glug) are a sure-fire combo for a dream date come true. V-Day plans, anyone?