One of the first things you’ll notice when you arrive at The Summerhouse is how far away from civilisation it seems to be, even though it’s part of the new Seletar Aerospace Park dining enclave. Occupying a total of 45,000 sq ft, the two-storey colonial building is set far apart from other eateries, and exudes a friendly, welcoming air.
Encompassing cafe, patisserie and bar Wildseed on the first level and a restaurant and bar on the second, The Summerhouse is one of the 1-Group’s latest ventures. And like its other properties (Una at One Rochester and The Garage at the picturesque Botanic Gardens, for instance), the building structures here have largely been left unchanged. The tiles on the roof are the original ones used back when it served as lodgings for Britain’s Royal Air Force personnel and their families, whilst the cafe is housed in the area where a squash court used to exist.
There’s even a sprawling garden – taking up 10,400 sq ft of space, to be exact – on the grounds, but it isn’t purely for aesthetic reasons. Rather, it’s fertile ground – literally – for the edible plants and herbs used in the restaurant’s dishes and cocktails, all of which have been curated by Edible Garden City, a champion of the burgeoning “grow your own food” movement here. It’s also a place where permaculture, a self-sustaining agricultural ecosystem where every element in the garden serves a variety of functions and purposes, is practised.
The farm-to-table concept doesn’t just stop there. German-born chef Florian Ridder frequently visits Singapore and Malaysian growers and producers, as well as owners of nearby kelongs, to source for ingredients. And when he enthuses about the plants that grow in the garden, like the cocoa plant and the cat’s whiskers, it’s easy to see that sustainability isn’t just a fad he’s jumped onto, but a motto he swears by.
It’s this dedication to respecting the land and the ingredients that grow on it that comes through in the six-course dinner menu ($90++) the restaurant offers (note: there’s also an 10-course meal priced at $128 available, and a brunch menu will soon be introduced). Light yet flavourful, every dish features local ingredients in the most intriguing combinations.
There’s Kelong Rojak, comprising a single prawn sourced from a kelong that’s topped with grated pistachio and a rojak flower (it has a watery taste) alongside a Thai basil sauce. Then there’s sourdough bread (surprisingly moist instead of dry and crunchy), drizzled with buttermilk and served with house-made butter. The stand-out feature for this dish? It’s served on a colourfully misshapen flat plate, sourced by Ridder himself from the Thow Kwang pottery in Singapore.
We move on to panzanella, which is Chef Ridder’s take on the classic Italian salad. It’s made of stewed eggplant, mild goat cheese, tomatoes from Cameron Highlands and crispy croutons. Served warm, it’s a comforting and homey dish to have, as is the buckwheat porridge that follows after. More gooey than watery, it comes with bacon bits, parmesan crisps, sunflower seeds and Chinese spinach, all of which work together to add crunch and texture.
The grouper comes with a dollop of orange blossom hollandaise and a carrot pesto, after which we sample a yet-to-debut item on the menu: Blackmore wagyu, which comes with a roselle sambal ketchup and hibiscus leaves from the garden as garnishes. To end, a dessert simply named “Flower” (above), which features a guava yogurt sorbet, lychee-coconut mousse and a rose meringue.
Local and immediately familiar ingredients also feature heavily on the cocktail menu, helmed by mixologist Yadhevan Santheran. The garden-inspired martinis here, which contain herbs such as lavender, thyme and basil, make a refreshing – and apt – choice for our perenially hot weather. Or if you’re adventurous enough, there’s even a hot alcoholic beverage, the Masala Chai Sour, which contains Jack Daniel’s and masali chai mixed with almond milk and vanilla liqueur.
In a nutshell? Our experience here has left us wishing for #theslowlife, and if you’re looking for dishes that will tease and delight, this is the place to be. 3 Park Lane, tel: 6262-1063