“Passion is our main ingredient.”
I was gonna start this post with “the higher the expectations, the greater the disappointment”, when it struck me as deja vu. Hey I musta’ve used it before in some previous post!
Repititive and utterly cliche, but nevertheless true.
Baker & Cook is located at Hillcrest road, nestled among private houses and a cluster Western eateries like Bronte and Peperoni’s. As such it is automatically associated with chi chi chill out places, popular amongst expats and housewives. Once again another long long overdue post, I’d decided to try this place out with my family during the off-in-lieu Hari Raya public holiday like many months back. Which on hindsight was totally unwise. Public holidays meant overcrowding. Anywhere and everywhere. Coffee shops, town, hawker centres; what made me think different of Baker & Cook?
We got there at 11 or so, and had to wait a lil to get a table. To be fair the wait wasn’t long at all, probably about 10 minutes or so? But that was for the bigger tables located outdoors. There are a few long tables indoors, capable of hosting larger groups. However there aren’t many of these tables cause the shop’s pretty small. And of course most patrons would occupy the table for a suitably long time cause of the air conditioning and all that. Problem is most tables outdoors are small rounded ones, perfect for groups of 2s or 3s but absolutely impossible for a family of 6 like mine. There are longer wooden tables, but those are situated at the side of the shop, and the whole time I was seated there I felt like I was dining in a backyard/garrage/rubbish kinda area. Ambience wise, not very nice hmmm.
Vennoiseries on the counter
Then again, if the food’s really that awesome, would ambience matter anyway?
Big ass meringues
Pizza on the counter
Chinese 5 Spice Chocolate Macarons
Plate high of freshly baked croissants
Latte with extra shot ($5+)
Their latte was pretty average. Not wowsers but it wasn’t bad. I thought the foam was a little too bubbly though, I would have preferred for it to be smoother. Funny how the best foams I’ve ever had are from Forty Hands (no surprise at that) and Spinellis.
Basil Turkish Pide ($4.50+)
Sigh so embarrassing I’ve always thought it to be pronounced as pi-deh. It’s actually pie-d. Like a past tense of pie. I’ve tried B&C’s sundried tomato pide at Dean and Deluca, and they make a pretty mean pide. Warmed before serving, a strong herbed, basil chewy exterior gives in to a fluffy plain interior. It’s what I’d imagine a puffy huge Mediterranean naan to taste like. Delicious.
Baker & Cook Freshly Baked Bread & Croissant Selection (for two to share) – served with butter and your choice of jams & spreads (available on the table) ($10+), with an additional order of Pain au Chocolat (?)
Fairly executed, the breads were nice. Nice doesn’t justify $10+ though. The flavours and textures were correct – not outstanding just correct – and it lacked that oomph factor. Unlike the pide these bakes aren’t toasted or warmed up before serving, which compounded the meh factor. Simply warming up a plain ol’ bread can make it so much tastier; I guess B&C didn’t get the memo. The breads displayed at the glass counter seem much better compared to this, and for the price I guess we would’ve been better ordering those.
Thumbs up for their jams and spreads though those were really tasty! If anything could alleviate your suffering from those bread, it’ll be these jams and spreads. We had blueberry and raspberry jams, and an orange marmalade that day.
Chocolate éclair ($5.70+), apple tart ($5+), and pecan tart ($5+)
Whoever decided desserts should come last after all your mains, is an absolute idiot. Numchuck. Why would you leave the best to the end when you’re probably so stuffed with carbs and all that to really savour each bite? Desserts should always come first.
B&C’s Chocolate éclair ($5.70+) was one of the nicer ones I’ve tried so far! My current faves are from Maison Kaysera and SweetSpot at the MBS hotel. Nice choux: slightly crispy exterior with a soft airy interior. Loved the addition of that coffee bean on top. But the best part of the whole éclair was the chocolate creme patissiere. B&C was really generous with their creme patissiere, so much so that it spilled out of the éclair onto the plate, creating this chocolatey mess that everyone was fighting to clean up. Intensely chocolatey yet light, B&C makes a pretty mean chocolate éclair.
The pecan tart ($5+) on the other hand was not as impressive. Decent frangipane, a tad too moist for me, and a shortcrust pastry that was more hard than buttery and biscuitty. Not something I’d order again.
Pretty, caramelised, apple slices layered above a mix of diced apples, sultanas, raisins, and a dash of cinnamon, encased by a flaky and buttery crust. Probably ranking second among the 3 desserts, the Apple Tart ($5+) was really delicious. The apple fillings were not overly sweet or mushy, which is very important in preventing the tart from tasting wet and soggy. I thought the preparation of apples in 2 ways was extremely ingenious cause it gave the tart a lot more contrasting textures that really brought it to a whole new level. I’m only ranking this second cause the éclair was waaaaay too unforgettable!
Chinese 5 Spice Chocolate Macarons ($2.50+ each) and Canele ($3+)
I maintain that the best macarons in Singapore are from Obolo, Jewels Artisan Chocolatier, and Jean-Phillipe Darcis, with Canele being the most recent addition to my list. B&C’s macarons weren’t bad at the very least. Reasonably priced at $2.50, their Chinese 5 Spice Chocolate Macarons were decent macarons. How they could be concluded as being chocolate and 5 spiced however eludes me. The chocolate component seems supposedly confined to the macaron shells, with the spices being incorporated into the buttercream. Sadly the shells just tasted sweet and the chocolate was not prominent. The spices were not detectable in the buttercream either.
The only other canele I tried are from Antoinette. B&C’s caneles are much bigger than Antoinette’s. Perfectly crunchy and caramelised exterior, their caneles are as good, and possibly better than Antoinette’s.
Spanish Omelette – omelette with spinach, peppers, spicy chorizo and cheese, served with 2 slices of Baker & Cook bread ($16+)
The description of this dish is not fully accurate cause I can’t seem to find it on their menu online! I hope they have not taken this dish out of their menu, cause it’s one of the best omelettes I’ve had thus far. I don’t usually order omelettes because most shops call any random concoction of eggs, cheese, and fillings an omelette. It usually has a 3:1 cheese to filling ratio, which is not only unhealthy, but also makes relatively expensive. B&C’s omelette was a breath of fresh air given the lower cheese content, and the abundance of fillings. I loved the addition of chorizo which gave the omelette a real kick. The slight spiciness gave the dish an extra dimension and prevented it from getting boring after a few bites. This is definitely a crowd pleaser.
Eggs Benedict Salmon – two poached eggs served on toasted Baker & Cook bread, smoked salmon and topped with hollandaise sauce ($19+)
Standard brunch item, B&C’s Eggs Benedict Salmon ($19+) is definitely not a dish to be missed. Perfectly poached eggs nestled atop long and thick slices of smoked salmon, strategically placed above 2 slices of pain miche bread. Slice into those pretty eggs, and you’ll have yolky goodness spurting out, only to be absorbed by the hard toast below. The hard bread provides a wonderful textural contrast to the soft eggs, and most importantly soaks up the yolk and the perfect hollandaise. Only thing is it can be quite a challenge to cut that bread into pieces. What is most impressive about this dish has to be the drizzle of aged balsamic. Stroke of genius.
My only – if any – question would be regarding the chili oil. I’ve read a lot about their hollandaise incorporating some element of spice/chili, and drizzled a little chili oil. Hmmm where art thou, chili oil?
Pancakes Stack – served with a caramelized apples compote, Greek yoghurt / crème fraiche and lashings of homemade toffee sauce ($17+)
Simple fluffy decadence. That’s all I have to say. A wonderfully unpretentious dish, elevated by its condiments. I love how greek yogurt is being provided here! Spread with some yogurt, toffee sauce and caramelised apples, every bite bursts with a myriad of textures and flavours. I’ll give it to B&C for knowing how to play with flavours and textures.
Cheese Plate – selection of cheese with a fig & maple compote, walnut bread and homemade oat biscuits ($14+)
Funny but this was the dish I enjoyed the most. It could be because no one in my family loves cheese and I had to finish it on my own, so most of my tummy space was devoted to this. True to my earlier hypothesis, even this walnut bread tasted better than those in the earlier bread selection. It was the first time I was trying gorgonzola a.k.a. blue cheese, and I must say it really isn’t that bad. Not my favourite in the selection, and I couldn’t finish it, but it wasn’t horrid at all. The hard cheeses were absolutely stunning. I didn’t like the slightly softer cheese – I think it was camembert – though. The best component of this dish however would have to be the fig and maple compote. It was absolutely amazing. I wanted to buy a jar of it home, only to find that they’ve ran out of stock 😦 slightly sweet, sticky, and crunchy with the little bits of fig seeds, this compote is truly the perfect match to any cheese selection.
Our total bill summed up to $143.8 in total. My dad was complaining how these “ang moh food, all loti only” could add up to over a hundred bucks. There were hits and misses I’d say, but on the overall I was pretty impressed with the mains served, the cheese platter, and the individual breads sitting on the counter. Besides I’ve yet to try their famed carrot cake and lemon tart that I was too full to stomach, so I’ll definitely be back for more.
Baker & Cook
77 Hillcrest Road