Formerly from the now-defunct Cocotte, Chef Anthony Yeoh has opened Summer Hill, a rustic French bistro, at heartland Sunset Way alongside Chef Christopher Soh from another defunct restaurant, Bird Bird. I read rave reviews of the bistro, but having gone to both Cocotte and Bird Bird, I am cautious about what I read.
I have never dined at Sunset Way before and it’s surprising to find an entire row of restaurants. Can the neighbourhood sustain the restaurants?
Summer Hill is situated beside a prata shop. There is a table (or two) within the restaurant but the grease from the open kitchen will get on customers’ clothes, and it’s better to sit outdoors where there is ample space (12 tables or so?). But when you sit outside, the aromatic curry smell from the prata shop distracts you from the French food. All the time I was there, I kept thinking, “Maybe we should have eaten prata.” It’s between the devil and the deep blue sea, grease on clothes or seduction by curry.
The menu is currently very small. Only three mains and each main comes with a choice of two sides. Well, there is supposed to be a choice of sides, but when we were there, there were only two sides; no choice for us.
Their roast chicken ($23 half for one person/ $45 whole for two) is highly praised in the blogosphere. The raw ingredient comes from hormone- and antibiotic-free birds. Mr Fitness is never impressed by chicken–chicken is common that he doesn’t think any dish from it can be special–but I was by Summer Hill’s roast chicken.
At first, I thought the chicken was first sous-vide then roasted, but when I found out, it wasn’t sous-vide at all, I was awed. Because it is difficult to roast such tender breast. Soft and juicy. It is also marinated well. Rosemary, was it? And a hint of ginger? In any case, even the meat tastes of the marinade. And the skin is crispy as it should be.
But unfortunately, since eating is about comparison, we have recently eaten a similarly priced roast chicken at Amo Restaurant, and the Amo chicken, which is amazing, is better. Not a tad better, not way better, but just palpably better.
Furthermore, the Summer Hill chicken is reddish with blood at the bones. We don’t mind, but we know many Singaporeans do.
And lastly, the homemade gravy (chicken jus?) is smelly. The chicken is better on its own.
The second main we ordered, Mr Fitness liked but I didn’t. The roast pork collar ($25) is sous-vide-d first before roasting. It’s tender but overly salty with the wholegrain mustard cream sauce. It is also slightly gamy that the sauce fails to mask.
After the meal, Mr Fitness wanted to go somewhere else for coffee and dessert. He thought Summer Hill was mediocre. I persuaded him to try the desserts because I wanted to write a more rounded and accurate review.
The croissant ($1.90) is nice. Crusty and fluffy and buttery. But it has gone slightly sour. The chocolate tart ($8) wasn’t on display on the shelf but the friendly staff informed us they had it in the fridge. It’s costly but comes in a big piece. The crust is also made with chocolate. Excellent tart, well-balanced and doesn’t feel too heavy.
I think the food here is suitable for the heartland. Much of their business comes from providing for home parties (for 2 to 12 people). They would prepare most of the ingredients but the host will do enough at home to make the experience personal, as if the host has prepared the food. Because of this home delivery concept, they don’t really need a fancy restaurant. They only need good-enough food for people in the neighbourhood to come. And I think the food is good enough; it’s homely and easy to understand. Wonderful for home parties.
One other reason why I think Summer Hill is more suited for the heartland than CBD is the service. We ordered at the counter and they delivered the food… without cutlery. Even though they are friendly, I thought the service was a little careless. Usually when you order food at counters at cafes, servers would bring cutlery along with the food. It’s strange for the server to bring the food and expect the customer to get out of the seat to go take cutlery and then return to the table of food. A good way around this is to put a container of cutlery on every table.
We paid $58 for two persons. It is an ok-good meal but it isn’t as mindblowing as what others have reported and I won’t travel more than 20 minutes for it.
Block 106, Clementi Street 12 #01-62, Singapore 120106
11.30am to 9.30pm daily
tel: +65 6251 5337
You may be interested in…
–Merci Marcel, Tiong Bahru: Who is Marcel and Why Should We Thank Him?
–Audace Bar and Restaurant, Wanderlust Hotel: French Food by Michelin-starred Chef from the French Alps
–Venue by Sebastian, Downtown Gallery: After a Hiatus of 3 Years, Former Ember Chef Re-Emerges
–The Dempsey Cookhouse & Bar Singapore: 3 Michelin-Starred Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Condescending Service, & Everything But the Signature Dishes
Written by Dr. A. Nathanael Ho.