It has taken me about 6 months to write this review because I love the Summerhouse Grill and its a must visit when I go to the area, but this past summer the two visits I made and the one I should have been on and heard reviews of makes me concerned.
The first visit was my daughter and I and we went there with great expectations as always and we were warmly welcomed and were sat at the so called "Food Network" seat because you can view from the second floor into the kitchens activities. Its a favorite seat because I love to watch the action.
I will apologize in advanced because I don't recall the specific dishes mostly, and part of the delay in writing this review was I thought I had it written down, but haven't found it so its a bit less specific then I like to be.
My daughter got a tomato based soup that was fabulous. And while not a fan of the tomato base soup I wish I had ordered one. When she finished the the bowl was on the edge of the table, it sat, and sat and sat. Waitresses came by many times passing us by as well as ignoring the bowl. I am known here and I understand being busy so I didn't grab anyone and instead started to pay attention to how long it sat. And it sat, and our drinks were empty and it sat.
In the kitchen I noticed the dynamics were different. The old chef from last year was gone. (and it seems there isn't a chef that has lasted for very long which is sad) I noticed that Kim, the owner was running around doing much more manual labor than usual. She is very hands on typically but she was more like a waitress tonight, (even though that bowl sat and our glasses were empty)
When she did stop by to grab the bowl I asked about the kitchen and she said that there is "no real head chef" any more. That is a "collaborative effort" and that is the difference. To me it showed. Its like having an orchestra without a conductor honestly. The musicians may all be great musicians but if there isn't a leader then how can you work in harmony?
May daughter got Sobe Noodles (I believe I am correct but the may have been other noodles) and they were bad. They were stuck together in a mass, very salty and flat in flavor. My daughter said two very telling things. First, she didn't want to finish it or take them home. And we were already hoping for leftovers. She knows I write for TripAdvisor and wanted to write this review, but changed her mind because she didn't want to write a "bad view because she use to love it here" ouch.....
Then our plates sat, and sat, and sat. For so long I was shocked, because the Summerhouse Grill is better than this. And they sat. It took so long we decided not to get dessert and went to a local soft serve place instead.
I forget the specific dish I had but it was unremarkable and it was making me wish that we had made plans for a different restaurant.
We love Summerhouse Grills Meet the Farmers Night. And this year we were going to be able to go to two. I was very excited.
The food is fresh and they take what the farmers brought in that day and get creative. Sadly the bumper crop of the day was beets, not my favorite, but I will try anything. I was with three other people, two who really liked beets and one that was on the fence and me.
The consensus was, so-so. The service was better, but the food not a stand out.
I arranged a group to go to the next Meet the Farmer Night in a month where they had lamb, and I love lamb. We got stuck in Binghamton because of a tornado, yes a tornado, and some out of the country guests who we couldn't leave behind, so we had to miss the meal, but got reviews.
The reviews were about being with friends and how enjoyable the company was, not the food, other then to note that the lamb main course was lamb stew and it was average. To me if you are trying to show off your lamb then lamb stew seems like a very unusual choice.
From my two visits this past summer I would have to really consider other options, and I never have before because I love this place for so many reasons. The one visit I wasn't part of but heard about didn't make me feel like they did any better than my visits.
The Summerhouse Grill has always been a ever changing place and usually it words in its favor and the food is outstanding to make up for any other glitches that might be in the system. This cost of the food, the service that was sub par and the meals that were average at best this past summer made me sad. I have had some of my best meals here. I love the staff, the owner is second to none, but something this past summer was very wrong.
If I didn't have the history I have with Summerhouse Grill I wouldn't go back, but not I have to weigh other eating options. There isn't enough information I have to say why, but I will take a stab at the fact that there is no head chef and there is no maestro, there is no leader, there is not a grand plan and I think for higher end kitchens to function properly that needs to be in place.
I don't know why they have a new chef each year, but I can only guess the chef gets a reputation and moves on, because the outstanding food. My fear is the current crop that is in their kitchen won't get a reputation and won't move on, or worse, get a reputation that will make potential customers stay away.
I hope that it can be corrected, and it may already have been, I can only hope.
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.