It’s always a challenge for me to decide on a restaurant to go to. Despite there being an over-abundance of good restaurants in Singapore, it is not easy to find one with the magic formula of good food + good value. When we have to think of which restaurant we want to go for a personal dinner, many of my food journalist friends and I often take a long time to come up with an idea. Because in all honesty, there’s just a handful where I am truly happy to spend the money.
Good service is even harder to find, so when I encounter it, it is often a pleasant surprise. That’s not good news, as it reflects the state of restaurant service in Singapore. But more about that another day.
Cook & Brew at the Westin Singapore is one of those few restaurants that checks my two most important boxes of good food and good value. And a few more.
The Good & Bad First
The expansive gastrobar on the 36th floor of Westin Singapore is a relaxing physical space though done up in strong masculine tones of wood and leather. The floor-to ceiling windows that stretch the considerable length of the restaurant gives a great view of the city especially at night when the city lights come on, and if you want to taste the air from on high, there’s a large, breezy al fresco verandah for rooftop drinks. Just make sure you’ve got your industrial-strength hair spray on.
At the dining area, tables are spaced well apart, making it way more comfortable than hip restaurants where tables are placed just a nail’s-width apart.
Service wise, most of the staff try hard, and the managers are pretty friendly, though you have a gruff one to watch out for. When it’s a little more quiet, say during lunch time, they staff tend to get a little relaxed, and it can be a challenge to get their attention — which is not a good thing.
While the choice and volume of music can be a little trying, and the lights a little too dim at night (bad for long sighted creatures like me), the price point on the menu is spot on. And added draw — Cook & Brew offer nightly promotions which are very well thought-through. Whoever is behind if really understands what the customers truly want.
All things balanced out, I like this place, and have been back a number of times (which I pay for). Most recently last night.
On to the Food
Cook & Brew recently changed its menu to one which is more focused and integrated. What’s the cuisine? Honestly I don’t quite know….American-inspired burgers, mod-Western main dishes, and a particularly interesting plethora of appetisers. They point to easy, happy food to pair with the restaurant’s impressive collection of beers.
For appetiser, must have the whipped buffalo ricotta with truffle honey and crisp bread ($12). Very simple, yet very clever, every mouthful is luxurious — the creamy lightness of the cheese is enhanced by the aromatic, slight sweet honey and lifted with the delightful crunch of the bread. This was easily the star of my two meals there in recent weeks.
The cardamom roasted beetroot was lovely too, it’s unique earthy flavour delectably paired with peppery pea shoots, rich hazelnuts, creamed goats cheese and caramelised palm sugar. The combination of diverse yet integrated flavours again is thoughtful and delightful.
The ‘poutine eh’ ($16), a messy bowl of pulled pork and fries glued together with melted cheese didn’t do a lot for me, though it probably qualifies as comfort food. And the hawker’s burger ($32) temptingly filled with char siew pork jowl and pork belly with sambal laced mayo, would have been fine had the burger bun not been quite so dry.
Last night’s tomahawk rib-eye steak ($126) was superb. At 280g, there was plenty for three of us to share, and could have been enough for four light eaters. Done medium, the meat was tender, juicy and full of rich beefy flavour, with a slight browning on the outside from the Maillard reaction. Lovely. The steak came with a generous pile of fluffy rocket leaves nicely picked (no stems!) and dusted with finely grated parmesan, and a basket of crisp shoe string fries and garlic mayo.
Cook & Brew’s dinner menu offers a few sharing dishes, the tomahawk being one. Other such platters include Ploughman’s Supper ($24) with cheeses, cured meats and chutneys with grilled bread and Seafood on Ice ($120) featuring lobster, oysters, tiger prawns, clams, smoked trout, etc.
On Friday nights, Cook & Brew rolls out the big guns of good value – including a fabulous deal for the Tomahawk. For $150++, you get the full tomahawk together with a bottle of red wine, and the seafood on ice comes with a bottle of champagne for a total of $180++.
Good to know: Cook & Brew sports a pretty extensive range of wines in its Enomatic system. You can have a taste of the wines before you decide, and you can choose either a half or full glass of wine. You can also buy a ‘stored value’ wine card to make buying your glass even easier.