Located far from Singapore’s recognised dining hubs, in the county’s north east corner, in an area with minimal public transport opportunities and next to no local residents, this is no mean feat. Despite what could be seen by many as major disadvantages, The Summerhouse has emerged as the place to dine, drink and hang out.
It’s perhaps the lack of immediate city around the restaurant that is one of the major drawing cards. Housed in a beautiful black and white bungalow, the restaurant is blessed with uninterrupted views and big skies, surrounded by lush green foliage – it’s as close as you’ll ever get to dining deep in the Singapore countryside. Inside, the black and white colour scheme is invigourated by the use of natural woods and the vivid greens from over-sized potted plants. The absence of traffic, noise and general inner-city hubbub creates a destination that immediately dissipates stress, and promotes a state of contented well-being. Add to this the refined beauty of the interior and the artistry of Chef Florian Ridder and you have a recipe for success.
The Summerhouse is situated in the housing enclave that was built to accommodate RAF personnel stationed at the former Seletar Air Base before the Second World War. Out of the collection of preserved black and white bungalows in the area, The Summerhouse is perhaps the most impressive. Spread over 45.000 square feet, the two-storey property is now home to The Summerhouse Dining Room and Balcony Bar on the second floor and Wildseed Café on the ground floor. The grounds also include the restaurant’s vegetable garden, a project with Edible Garden City, local coffee roasters Nomad The Gallant, and florists Poppy Flora Studio.
With all these offerings, it’s no surprise that the restaurant is busiest on the weekends, when its blend of old world charm, laid back pace and excellent dining opportunities make it a favourite for both the local and the expatriate population. To experience the location at its most serene though, we’d recommend visiting for lunch or dinner during the week.
Chef Florian has experience in some of the world’s best restaurants, including a stint at Germany’s 3-Michelin star La Belle Epoque, which is immediately evident in his cuisine. Eschewing the formality of white tablecloths and the rituals of fine dining, he presents a menu of refined cuisine in a relaxed setting which corresponds perfectly with the feel of the location. He obviously feels very much at home with the restaurant’s ‘farm to table’ concept – before arriving in Singapore he had considered giving up cooking in favour of a career in agriculture, studying permaculture practices and sustainability. At The Summerhouse, his focus on sustainability continues. With the restaurant’s on-site garden providing herbs and leafy greens, the kitchen also aims to source as much as possible from Singapore and Malaysia for his nature-inspired cuisine.
Nature is not just on the food menu – start your meal with one of mixologist Yadhaven Santheran’s creations like the Beetroot Sling. With previous experience at Raffles Singapore, he has certainly mastered his sling technique and also makes a mean Dark and Stormy!
Notable dishes on the menu include Beetroot, a raspberry-pickled beetroot with creamy ricotta centre, served with a splash of beetroot gazpacho and garnished with the crunch of barley puffs, fried charlottes and sesame seeds. Sweet and sour with pleasing textures and fragrance, it’s a fantastic dish. Also fabulous is the Panzanella, a clean flavoured dish which features goat cheese and mashed eggplant stew, rather like the Lebanese baba ganoush, served in a clear tomato soup with coriander and crunchy croutons. With its blend of fresh fragrant flavours, this is a dish I would never tire of. Also interesting is the Buckwheat Porridge, a wholesome bowl of oats, bacon, tomato, mixed seeds and marigold flower, garnished with addictively tart Parmesan crisps.
For a more casual experience, Wildseed Café, on the ground floor, offers a selection of savoury snacks, light lunches, excellent pastries – the banana bread here is quite simply the city’s finest – and good coffee, all very good reasons to visit, whatever you feel like eating.
The Summerhouse, 3 Park Lane, tel: 6262 1063, thesummerhouse.sg
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