Restaurant Review: Summerlong
A slate of Mediterranean epicureanism lands in Robertson Quay
If you want to pick and peck from under that fashionista-worthy floppy hat, like you’re in Santorini, but can’t afford the flight out—take a trip to Summerlong instead. Breathing new air into the largely diverse foodscape of Robertson Quay is The Dandy Partnership with their fourth concept, Summerlong, a Mediterranean eatery exuding beach vibes. Following a whirlwind success with their previous projects, Neon Pigeon, Fat Prince and The Ottoman Room, one can only expect the same culinary brilliance or at the very least the mirroring of the Mediterranean culture, known for its epicureanism—food, fashion, and the good life. Many visits later, I can attest to both. This joint does have something to amuse the taste buds of a jaded capital.
The sprawling riverside space, formerly Soi 60 Thai Restaurant, transports one to an exotic European beach instantly. White washed space, decked out in natural material, woven lamp shades, gold accents and the occasional bursts of green, drips surrealism. Our tip: Dress comfortably as this place can get moderately uncomfortable on days where the tropics aren’t so forgiving. Kaftans and Sandals are strongly recommended. Beach-chic is in vogue now.
We make a beeline for the bar—a smart move seeing that The Bar Awards 2017 ‘The Rising Star’ awardee Symphony Loo is behind the establishment’s cocktail programme. The Mediterranean theme serves as inspiration, with cocktails that are just as refreshing as their flavour profiles. Even the most devoted tipple hunter will be bamboozled by a couple of the combinations—ouzo anybody? Pace yourself but make sure to fuel up with some of their titillating concoctions such as the Summer Mule ($16) which parrots pineapple tequila, mezcal and ginger beer or the Petra’s Saga ($17), an ambrosial mix of cucumber rosemary cachaça, lime and basil. Seasoned drinkers will appreciate the bolder tipple that is the 3 Continents ($21) made with three rums, pineapple and passionfruit served in a coconut shell for that illustrious beach-side, deck chair feel.
Mediterranean food often gets chided by critiques, but what better way to categorise a restaurant that dishes out food which spans across the Mediterranean Sea from the Middle East to Greece to the Italian Peninsula? You are not going to find any Greek salad or gyros here—wrong place. Instead, what the kitchen has come up, conveys a sense of adventure, of exploring the unknown coupled with a few familiar comforts.
No dish underlines that sentiment like communal dips. The Fava Bean Puree with Smoked Ham and Mint ($8) comes highly recommended. Wildly herbaceous, brightened with savoury hits from smoked ham, this treat will have you stuffing your face with those magic carpets aka warm flatbread.
Traditional dishes should not be forgotten; another excellent starter is the Lemon and Garlic Hummus ($7), embellished with fried minced lamb for extra lavish affairs.
Save for a handful of plates marked as Grill and Plancha on the menu, most everything is appetizer-size, and two to three dishes a person is a good place to start.
They work in layers of flavour here: char from the heat, sweetness from honey and an intense smokiness from caramelised garlic. Start your journey of the sharing plates with the Chargrilled Octopus, Parsnip, Garlic and Honey ($19), presented simply and honestly—displaying a profound respect for quality ingredients. Roasted parsnips are given the royal treatment and it does shift the gastronomic centre of gravity from the octopus, which true to word is remarkably tender beneath its crusty exterior.
Don’t bother with the Braised Lamb in Pastry ($12), unless you’re an avid fan of lentils.
Grilled dishes like the Mediterranean Pork Ribs ($32) swathed in a sticky sweet pomegranate is given salty perks by the dukkah crust. Each rib weighing in heavy with a nice belt of golden caramelised fats, cooked till it falls away with the slightest nudge of the knife. My only grudge would be the lack of salt, but that’s nothing a glass Syrah from Turkey can’t fix. The dry red with medium tannins, redolent with the smell of tart red fruits enhances the unctuous qualities of the protein.
Make sure to save space for the Fried Chicken ($25), a dish that makes no grand statements on first impression, but has obviously been on the receiving end of restless tinkering. Hit the golden-brown bird with mint honey sauce, harissa or dukkah. You’ll want to wear your eating pants for this.
The sides menu churns out affordable hits of deliciousness such as the Spiced Broccoli with tahini, hazelnuts and seeds ($8). The misunderstood green paired with sesame seeds pummelled into submission by the creamy tahini, and toasted hazelnuts. It all comes together in a way so unexpected and right that I had to shake my head.
Eggplant cooked with faultless timing on the grill (till charred and imbued with a heady smoky sensation) is layered with sweet tomatoes, aromatic nubs of confit garlic and fresh young basil. It’s not everyone’s nirvana, and I revelled in the fact that there was more for me.
You don’t need the dessert on the menu, in fact the subversiveness of it will bewilder you. Soft serve yogurt with a myriad of toppings from mixed berries, sprinkles, oreos, crunchy nuts, cornflakes, granola, walnuts, butterscotch chips and more offers a cooling respite from the sultry nights. What. Were. They. Thinking? How is this Mediterranean by any chance? Despite the fallout of consensus, I fell for its innocuous appeal. I mean, who can resist the good fun of customising a half-and-half chocolate and vanilla soft serve?
Address: 60 Robertson Quay #01-04, S(238252)
Tel: 6235 1225