Sited on level 33 of the Westin Singapore, Cook & Brew might draw comparisons to another high-rise establishment on the same storey in a nearby building. But that is another article for another time. For the most part, Cook & Brew is an excellent gastro-bar — I liked the quality of the food, the ambience, the knowledgeable bartenders (they expertly customised a gin-based drink after I asked for one) and most of all, their desserts. But I am slightly less enamoured with its main dishes, because I think that while they are a testament to Executive Chef Aaron Foster’s creativity and skill, they can still aim to provide even greater value for money.
I am probably not the most objective diner to comment on the Garganelli Pasta & Duck Confit ($32++) or the Handmade Ricotta Cavatelli ($28++), since I am not a fan of anything other than spaghetti (I find most other pasta varieties to be too starchy). But I find the former dish aromatic, thanks to the inclusion of double-boiled duck broth, dry Riesling, butter, and the duck confit.
I am more circumspect about the ricotta cavatelli, though. I might betray my lack of cultural capital with this admission, but I can’t stop thinking about how this dish can cost so much, but appear to contain so little. A large part of the price can probably be attributed to how the cavatelli is rolled individually by hand, reflecting the artisanal finesse within.
The Meats: Flavourful, but pricey
Meat connoisseurs will probably enjoy the Beef Pot Roast ($39++). The USDA beef short ribs were tender, and I enjoyed the creamy goat cheese, mascarpone polenta, semi-dried tomato jus, and crisp kale that accompany it. But I find—and this is an indictment of the other meat dishes as well—that the serving size is disappointingly small.
The USDA 365-Day Grain Fed Striploin ($61++) is just as good, if not better. The striploin has a distinctly buttery taste and melted in the mouth. Pity about the small serving, though, because the meat will disappear all too quickly. The restaurant will not do itself a disservice if it increases the size of its cut slightly.
If you are keen to try something more creative, go for the Lobster Grilled Cheese ($49++). It is an expensive sandwich, but then you are getting Nova Scotia lobster between fried brioche, topped with tomato jam and sour pickles. Cucumber salad completes the dish. The lobster is good, of course, but I would personally save my money and go for multiple servings of Nem Nuớng Vietnamese Charcoal Grilled Pork Sausage ($16++) instead. This is Chef Foster’s inspired take on Vietnamese street food, and the substantial grilled pork is served with a slice of spicy watermelon. The lime and chilli dip is an inspired accompaniment.
While the main dishes are delicious, albeit pricy, I cannot say the same for the desserts. The desserts are both great and wallet-friendly.
Must Try: Desserts and that Caramel Butter Tart
Anna Olson’s Steamed Carrot Cake ($14++) is not your usual carrot cake. It might even be a polarising dish. Instead of being crumbly, it is sticky and chewy. The accompanying scoop of cream cheese ice cream might also upset traditionalists expecting something sweet. It is a dish I am happy to order alone, but I will not risk ordering it if I am sharing with someone else. Something about the sweet and slightly salty mix is enamouring to me.
The Caramel Butter Tart ($13++) is my favourite dessert at Cook & Brew. I liked it so much that I made a second visit to Cook & Brew to savour this again. I enjoyed the cold and citrusy blood orange sherbet, especially when combined with the hot, melted butter that oozes out of the tart on the first bite. The sweet whipped cream that sits atop the tart also complements the accompanying slices of grapefruit and orange.
Chocolate Raspberry & Hazelnut Crunch Cake ($15++) is made without flour, so it comes with all the goodness of chocolate cake but with considerably less guilt. The star of this dessert is probably the scoop of Valrhona Guanaja, which has an intense and long-lingering flavour. The warm and flowery notes of the chocolate also goes well with the layer of raspberry buried within the cake.
A stellar ambience at night!
Cook & Brew probably has something for everyone. If you are looking for a quiet spot to have an intimate tête-à-tête, come here on a weekday night. The place is virtually empty and should afford you with the privacy you need. But extroverts will feel right at home in this place as well on Friday evenings. The place buzzes with a live band, animated chatter, and well-dressed professionals hitting back drinks. Go for the outdoor seats if the weather is fine—unlike most other high-rise Marina Bay bars, you get to see an almost uninterrupted vista of the sea, instead of surrounding buildings. Just make sure you don’t leave without having dessert.
Thank you, Cook & Brew, for the invitation.