Encounter of the Baker and Cook kind

I mentioned in my previous post ‘The Chinese New Year feasting’ dated 16 February, that my family and I had a feast at Baker and Cook on the second day of the new year. The food, especially the steak pie, was so fabulous that my husband and I decided we should return in the afternoon to get takeaways for dinner. A little explanation here, we were there for breakfast and we were going to the botanic garden after that. So it made sense to get dinner after the walk in the garden.

We had a light lunch at Casa Verde (part of the Les Amis Group) at the botanic garden, which was pretty good. unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures of the food because I was busy rocking baby Alex to sleep. It was a cloudy day and the air was a little murky, but too bad we couldn’t get a table inside the air-conditioned dining area. Poor Alex was a little warm and I had to keep fanning him (he’s a temperate country baby). My husband and I also took turns to cuddle him as we stood under the aircon vent. In fact earlier, as my husband pushed him around in the stroller, I walked next to him with a large umbrella to shield him from the sun (though I had applied sunscreen on him already). Yep, Alex’s a little emperor. I think those Europeans who were there with their babies must be amazed. Anyway I’ve digressed too much and so back to the main subject.

Since the Martin Road outlet of Baker and Cook is closer to the Botanic Garden, we decided to go there for tea and get dinner to go. We did have tea there but didn’t end up with dinner., and the email below explains it all.

“Dear Dean,

When my husband and I first visited your stores a few months ago, we love the food and pastries. In fact we hope that you will consider opening an outlet in the eastern part of Singapore, which is where we live.

We mostly visit your flagship store at Hillcrest Road, since the selections are wider compared to the one at Martin Road. Yesterday, as usual, we went to the Hillcrest outlet for breakfast and the food is still as fabulous as ever. In the mid-afternoon, as we were at the Botanic Garden, we decided to visit the Martin Road outlet for tea. At the same time, we wanted to get some take-aways for dinner. I ordered a slice of carrot cake for in-house dining, and it was served with a bite-size missing at the sharp end. Basically the cake wasn’t cut properly and I pointed this out to the staff who then proceeded to cut a slice from a whole cake. For the take-aways, I ordered a chicken roll, a chili con carne pie, and a sausage and sun-dried tomato tart. On the description tags, only the tag of the tart indicated it would be served with salad. But at Hillcrest road, even the roll and pie would have salad accompaniment. Anyway I noticed there was only brown rice salad available in the display and asked the staff about the other 2 salads which I had taken/seen at the HIllcrest outlet. I was told the other 2 salads were sold out. I decided to accept the brown rice salad and told the staff that it wasn’t only the tart but the roll and pie should come with salads too.When the packed food was sent to my table, my husband noticed there were only 2 boxes and he opened them up and found that the salads were missing. I took the boxes to the counter staff and one apologized that she forgot to give me the salads which she packed in a separate box. When she gave it to me, I opened it to check and found that it only contained brown rice. I asked her about the greens, and she said that they ran out of that. I pointed to the bowl of brown rice salad in the display which had some greens in it. Only then she said she would give me the salad from the bowl. When I finally received the pack of brown rice salad, I decided to taste-test it. To be honest, it was totally tasteless. Worse, the rice was dry and a little hard. I asked for dressing for the salad and it didn’t help at all. I returned the take-aways and told the staff I wanted a refund which I was given.

What I want to tell you is that the quality at Martin road just doesn’t match those at the Hillcrest outlet. In fact for patrons who don’t know any better and not been to the Hillcrest outlet, they would have thought this is what you’re offering them. Tasteless, hard brown rice salad. I think your reputation is at stake here. It also appears to us that the staff at Martin Road are new and service is just not up to par. I’m not sure if it’s a wise decision to put new staff at a new outlet without guidance from experienced staff. Anyway my husband and I have decided not to patronize the Martin road outlet after this bad experience. I hope you’re able to revamp the operation there. Most of all, please do ensure the quality at Hillcrest remains at a high level.

Thank you for reading my email.


What I didn’t mention in the email was that I had wanted to compromise and accept the salad because I wanted to have the chicken and apricot roll. But my husband was fiercely adamant that we return the food because he refused to compromise on the quality. If we couldn’t get good salads at Martin road like those at Hillcrest outlet, then we shouldn’t accept the rest of the food. And he also felt that the staff were trying to pull wools over our eyes and he hate people who do that to him. So I did, returned the food and got my refund. My husband poked fun at me for the next few days over the chicken roll. He said to baby Alex, “mama here is willing to compromise her integrity just for a chicken roll! So you can bribe her with that.”

The day after I sent out the email, I received a reply from Ms Gauri Nafrey, a partner and Director of Operations for Baker and Cook. She apologized profusely for our bad experience and assured me that there should not be any difference between the two outlets, and they would action on it ASAP. She also invited me for a meeting and a bite at the outlet of my choice. As I was thinking of how to respond to her, Dean Brettschneider, baker and owner, wrote to me that he had addressed the issue of average food and service at the Martin road outlet since quality and customer experience are very important to him and his business. He also invited me to meet up over a meal. I have to say I’m very impressed with the prompt responses.

I arranged for my husband and I to meet both Gauri and Dean on last Friday, which I subsequently changed to last Saturday. Unfortunately we were both struck by the cold virus last week, infected by Alex, and decided it was prudent to cancel the appointment. I called up the bakery and had the pleasure to talk to Gauri, a very friendly lady. She hopes to meet up when we have recovered, and hopefully before this Wednesday when Dean leaves Singapore. Apparently he is only in Singapore for a week, and isn’t based here. Unfortunately we won’t be able to meet up with him, at least not this time. So I plan to meet up with Gauri soon, and post a follow-up then.

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