Carpenter & Cook

This kooky little cafe tucked away in the Upper Bukit Timah neighbourhood of Lorong Kilat is certainly no stranger to being reviewed.  When we got to Carpenter & Cook one Sunday afternoon, we were greeted simultaneously by the chatter of diners, the clinking of cutlery and the aroma of oven-baked goodies the moment we pushed through the wood-panelled door. As we waited in line for a seat, the couple next to us used a vintage display cabinet as a tabletop for filling in a form to have their pre-wedding shoot held here.

As with all wildly popular eateries, there’s always a presumption that service will be brusque and impersonal. I’m happy to report that the servers we encountered at Carpenter & Cook were welcoming and chirpy. Furnished with rustic pieces acquired by one of its three co-owners from all over the world, the cafe exuded a homely and laid-back vibe in spite of the teatime crowd. Communal seating is practised here, which is fine by me since I’ve recently been trained not to attack openly affectionate couples.

Lavender Bundt Cake, $4.00.

Whilst surveying the pastries on display, we were a little taken aback by how steep the prices were. It took just four bites to finish this palm-sized bundt cake (we’re talking preschooler hands here), which tasted quite uninspiring. It was my first encounter with lavender in cake form, though apart from some notes of cinnamon I frankly couldn’t detect anything else in the cake. I also felt the honey glaze was superfluous since it added neither depth of flavor nor moisture to the cake, which was a little too dry.

Passionfruit Meringue Tart, $6.50

Highly raved about in almost every review of Carpenter & Cook I’ve read, this tart had a crisp, buttery shell that broke off easily when you cut into it with a fork. The beautifully seared meringue peaks had a texture akin to toasted marshmallow innards… that’s actually meant to be much more delicious than it reads. Found the passionfruit curd way too sweet, but supporters swear by it so if too much sugar’s your thing, go right ahead and order this.

Smashing Savoury Brioche Bun (Veg.), $6.50.

A sprinkle of sundried tomatoes, pine nuts, olives and a couple sprigs of parsley on a fluffy brioche bun. I have to say the bun was moist, soft and wonderfully herby, but for six friggin’ fifty? I wouldn’t have ordered this if I were allowed to have things my own tyrannical way.

Triple chocolate chip muffin, $3.50.

This was a flat out disaster. The muffin was so dry that every poke of the fork triggered an avalanche of crumbs. Also, the chocolate used was sickeningly sweet and of exceedingly poor quality – I say this as someone who has no qualms about eating Van Houten chocolates by the boxful.

Flat White, $5.00; Iced Mocha, $6.00.

Like any Singaporean cafe worth their salt, Carpenter & Cook utilises the Speakeasy blend from Liberty Coffee. Sadly, premium beans alone do not a good cup of coffee make. My flat white was served lukewarm, left a slightly acrid aftertaste, and came with zero art boohoohoo. Maybe it was because the cafe was crowded when we visited, but they could definitely pay a little more attention to detail for drink prep.

By the end of our visit we were left scratching our heads about the hype surrounding Carpenter & Cook. It’s obvious that they have the leisurely come-burn-your-weekend-afternoon-with-us ambiance bit down pat, but food and price wise there’s so much room for improvement you could fit Mariah Carey and her entourage in there. I’d like to think that we visited on an off-day. I guess I wouldn’t mind coming back if I happen to be in the area, though it’ll be an uphill task convincing me to go out of my way to visit Carpenter & Cook a second time.

Carpenter & Cook
19 Lorong Kilat, #01-06
Singapore 598120

Opening hours: 12 noon to 10p.m., Tuesdays to Fridays; 10a.m. to 10p.m., Saturdays; 10a.m. to 7p.m., Sundays. Closed on Mondays.
Tel. No.: 6463 3648

One Response to “Carpenter & Cook”
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  1. […] had a disappointing encounter with a bundt cake the week before, we decided to give the orange bundt cake here a shot. Beautiful […]

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