Restaurant Review

Summerlong - A buzzy Mediterranean restaurant with Middle Eastern influences

Mediterranean-style eatery Summerlong offers lovely food with Middle Eastern influence

If you like buzzy restaurants with loud music and no air-conditioning, you will like Summerlong, a Mediterranean-style eatery with a beach vibe that opened in Robertson Quay last month.

I don't, but I know many people who do. In fact, when I was there for dinner recently on a Saturday night, the place was packed, with some tables turning twice during the time I was there.

The cooking is pretty good and I don't mind eating some dishes again, but I would probably enjoy them more in a quieter, cooler environment without thumping music in the background. Obviously, I don't belong to the demographic the restaurant targets.

Mediterranean in Summerlong's case refers to the eastern shores of the sea, so expect more Middle Eastern influences than European ones. Yet it is not totally Middle Eastern either. The food actually reminds me of meals I have had in some Australian restaurants - basically Western cooking spiced up with the likes of harissa and dukkah.

The results are not unpleasant.

Among the dishes I order for dinner, the Chargrilled Octopus ($19) is my favourite. The octopus tentacle, seasoned with a touch of garlic and honey, is fat and tender, with an appealing smokiness from the grill.


The Persian Fried Chicken (above) is moist and comes with harissa and dukkah dips, while the Charred Eggplant is grilled till soft and topped with confit garlic, tomato and young basil. PHOTO: SUMMERLONG

But instead of being blackened on the grill, the pale and thick chunks here look almost like the pieces of parsnip on the plate. So it may be only when you spear your fork through a piece that you find out if it's soft octopus or firm parsnip.

 

But I enjoy surprises like that. It means I don't get bored with the dish. Besides, the parsnips are lovely too - crunchy and sweet.

The Steamed Mussels ($21) are not bad either, served with pieces of pumpkin and lamb sausage in a mildly spicy broth. I like that the lamb does not taste too gamey, which would have overpowered the mussels. Instead, the lumps of minced meat and the pieces of sweet pumpkin add welcome variety to the dish.

I just wish the shellfish is plumper because the meat in some pieces sticks to the shell and after you scrape it off, there is little to eat.

Among the main courses, the Persian Fried Chicken ($25) is highlighted in the menu with extra large print and a box around it. So naturally, my table has to order it.

It turns out rather good, except that the coat of mint honey on the chicken is a tad sweet. But it comes with harissa and dukkah dips, which help to balance the flavours somewhat with their spices. The chicken itself is moist, not the dry chunk of white meat I usually find in Western restaurants.

 

The Persian Fried Chicken is moist and comes with harissa and dukkah dips, while the Charred Eggplant (above) is grilled till soft and topped with confit garlic, tomato and young basil. PHOTO: SUMMERLONG

The other main dish I try, Mediterranean Pork Ribs ($32), disappoints because the meat is too soft from being slow-cooked before it is grilled, I suspect.

But I know many people who like their meat this way - "it melts in the mouth" is how they would describe it. I, however, like my meat tender and juicy, not soft.

But the rest of the dish is good, from the dukkah crust on the ribs to the pomegranate seeds that make up for the lack of sweetness and juiciness in the meat.

  • SUMMERLONG


    01-04, 60 Robertson Quay, tel: 6235-1225

    Open: 5pm to midnight (Tuesdays to Fridays), 11.30am to midnight (Saturdays and Sundays), closed on Mondays

    Food: 3.5/5

    Service: 3/5

    Ambience: 2.5/5

    Price: Budget about $70 a person

Among the sides we order, the Charred Eggplant ($10) is my favourite. The vegetable is grilled till soft and topped with confit garlic, tomato and young basil, resulting in a lovely combination of flavours.

The Roasted Sweet Potato & Chili Hummus ($7) sounds more interesting than it tastes. It's not bad, but the kick I expect from the chillies is not delivered and it tastes like sweet potato mash.

Dessert options are limited to soft-serve ice cream ($4), with a choice of toppings such as fruit and granola at $1 each.

They may fit the beach theme, but my dining companions and I are in the mood for something more exciting than ice cream.

So we hop to a nearby air-conditioned restaurant for some French desserts - and blissful reprieve from the sweltering heat.

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•The Sunday Times paid for its meals at the eateries reviewed here

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 04, 2017, with the headline 'Sweltering summer'. Print Edition | Subscribe