I’m calling it right now: the newly-opened The Summerhouse, located in new lifestyle hub Seletar Aerospace Park, is probably going to be one of my new favourite hangout spots in Singapore in 2017 – and I’m saying this as somebody who, quite literally, lives all the way across the other side of the island in Bedok.
The Summerhouse, the latest addition to the One Rochester Group’s stable of F&B concepts, is a 45,000 square feet multi-concept space within the hub, comprising the Summerhouse Dining Room; cafe, patisserie and bar Wildsee; florist Poppy Floral Studio, and coffee roasters Nomad.
The main dining room, housed within the second-level dining hall of a sprawling refurbished colonial bungalow, is the star attraction of the space. Chef de Cuisine Florian Ridder, who last worked in the kitchen of 1-Michelin-star Alma by Juan Amador, runs with the culinary philosophy of “farms-to-table” – which means working with a collective of Singaporean and Malaysian growers and producers, as well as a Singapore kelong, to minimise wastage and promote local produce. The in-house edible garden, curated by Edible Garden City, provides almost all of the garnish used in the menu.
It’s certainly a delicious-sounding concept, even if not entirely new in Singapore. What sets chef Florian’s ‘nature-inspired’ menu apart from his peers’ is the creative vision bestowed upon the fresh produce. Ingredients are artistically reinterpreted, but execution is restrained. Food has its fine dining leanings, but the dining experience is never stuffy or pretentious.
Take for instance chef Florian’s signature buckwheat porridge (pictured above; available on both the set dinner menu and a la carte menu), which was inspired by a childhood dish during his years growing up in Germany. Buckwheat flour is first cooked with cream, milk and butter, then simmered with buckwheat rice until a rich, creamy finish.
Pumpkin and sunflower seeds and crunchy bacon bits are tossed into the mix, which is then garnished with Chinese spinach, tomato, flowers (from the garden, of course) and Parmesan cheese crisps.
The result is visually stunning, but every bite was delicious, textural and ultimately, very comforting. It reminded me of my own school days of having Quaker Oats for breakfast, albeit a much more elevated version. I didn’t want the dish to end.
On the drinks front, mixologist Yadhaven Santheran takes the reigns at the ground-level bar. Cocktails like Kaya Martini (pictured above) and Beetroot Sling will definitely appeal to the sweet-toothed, tipple-loving crowd, but I was delighted to discover a great selection of 18 natural wine options on the wine list, including a Riesling and a Shiraz from the always-reliable Ministry of Clouds winery from South Australia. Yadhaven recommended a Sato Riesling from New Zealand, clean-tasting and with a hint of fizz, which proved to be the perfect accompaniment to chef Florian’s delicate dishes.
For now, only dinner is available at The Summerhouse dining room, so Wildseed Cafe will be your respite from the heat when you visit on the weekend afternoons.
At Wildseed, brunch staples like sandwiches, eggs cold cuts, cakes and pastries make up the menu, and likewise, feature locally sourced ingredients and a heartland spin. A Hangover Brunch special for example, features the Wildseed Kaya Toast, an inspired take on the breakfast classic with a poached egg sandwiched in a sourdough and drizzled in kaya sauce.
True to its philosophy of working with predominantly local brands, Wildseed also houses the Singapore-based Nomad the Gallant, an on-site roasting facility that specialises in sourcing, roasting and wholesale of specialty coffee blends created locally. The final flourish: floral arrangements and seasonal blooms sold by Poppy Floral Studio, who have been doing great work in the realm of floral art.
Beyond the food and drinks, it was the fact that I actually forgot that I was in Singapore for the few hours I was dining there (until I was brought back to reality when the restaurant closed for the night) that endeared me the most to The Summerhouse.
The bathroom in the dining room overlooks the beautiful landscape gardens and flourishing vegetable beds, a scene that, by dusk, feels even more surreal with the lack of hubbub. A stroll around the edible garden is a fascinating and educational discovery of what goes onto your plate.
When you are surrounded by all these floral and fauna, with nary a high-rise building in sight, it’s easy to lose yourself in the fantasy of living far away from the shrill whine of city life. And for me, that makes The Summerhouse a winner.
The Summerhouse is located at 3 Park Lane. For more information, visit www.thesummerhouse.sg or call 8606 3340.