When a brand is tied to a celebrated name in the F&B universe, it’s hard not to intertwine your own expectations with the reality of the dining experience. That was what I was most fearful of, going into newly-opened CARNE Singapore at Amoy Street. Already flooded with numerous playmakers along that street, Chef Mauro Colagreco’s (of 3-Michelin-starred Mirazur) latest venture, is shoved into the unavoidable limelight, with frenzied media ready to assess it under a microscope. At least I am.
Fun fact: CARNE is the first burger chain in the world to be a Certified B Corporation, the world’s only international certification that measures a corporation’s social and environmental performance and place in the world. What does this mean? You can ease your guilt by knowing that that burger you’re wolfing down at CARNE is created with ingredients that are sustainable, fresh, and organic—right down to their free-range grass-fed Angus beef patties.
I can only describe their outfit as an industrial diner, designed practically for convenient consumption of burger, fries, and milkshake, with little to distract your attention from your meat. That reminds me; arm yourself with plenty of napkins or wet wipes, because things are about to get deliciously messy.
So, as you sit there staring at this screen salivating, let me begin to advise you on what to look out for.
What I tried
You can’t verify a visit to a burger place if you don’t sink your teeth into their OG—in which case, here it’s the Classic Burger (S$19.50). Furnished with local oak lettuce, organic tomato, and organic red onions, the almost 3-inch thiccc natural Argentinian grass-fed beef patty dons pillowy, buttery buns. The buns are almost too soft to retain the shape of being a burger, so it’s wise to avoid taking too long with your mandatory food shots.
While I appreciate simple burgers, I wish I could taste a more intense kiss of salt. I have reservations about the patty as well; it’s firm and doesn’t possess the crumble of hand-shaped patties which are much more alluring to me. Nevertheless, it’s a solid burger and one that’ll work in a pinch, especially if you’re famished.
Given that this is CARNE’s first international outpost—and we’re so thankful for it—an exclusive recipe joins the burger brigade on the menu. The Beef and Chimichurri Burger (S$24) plays on the brand’s Argentinian roots with a handsome ensemble of signature chimichurri, artisanal Murcian cheese, pickled jalapeno, organic red onion, and local arugula.
If you like your burgers like how you live your life—with zest and punch—this one’s for you. The subtle chimichurri tang is welcome, along with the ever-so-loving embrace of heat from the jalapenos. Between this and the Classic, this burger grabs my attention, but by only a margin. Once again, I’m seeking salt in places where they should be seasoning, because it’s 2021, and we shouldn’t waste time with underwhelming food.
Very much in line with the uprising of plant-based food, the Veggie Burger (S$16) enters the stage with a solid impression. You don’t see many burgers out there featuring haloumi cheese, but this one does. Joining the family are turmeric buns, grilled portobellos, local oak lettuce, and tomato tapenade. Texture-wise, everything’s rather delicate, so if you’re hankering a toothsome number, this won’t satisfy.
However, out of the three, the Veggie Burger carried the most seasoning—what a relief! It’s moreish and light on the tummy, so you can afford to scarf down the outstanding fries and unforgettable dessert.
When I say ‘outstanding’, I mean I’ve never fallen so head over heels for fries this way.
Just its name—Triple Cooked Agria Fries (S$8.90)—will ensure you’ll want to protect this fiercely because these fries shouldn’t be shared. Following a triple cooking process of steaming, freezing, and deep-frying these babies, the powdery insides melt as they greet your tongue, while its crispness bewitches your aural senses. Not to mention, the elusive salt I’d been searching for was finally found.
I would gladly walk in to order these fries only, and leave without a burger in-hand.
It’s a little sad that they only feature one dessert on their menu—although their milkshakes cleverly provide redemption. ‘Do it once, do it well’ they say, and CARNE has made this sweet-tooth surprisingly happy. The Orange and Chocolate Sacher Torte (S$12) doesn’t appeal to my aversion for fruit alongside chocolate, but I definitely didn’t knock it till I tried.
And tried, and polished it off, I did. Laden with cubes of single-origin chocolate sacher torte, a sprinkle of candied orange peels, toasted almonds complete the mound. There’s even a modest scoop of artisanal orange gelato to complete the recipe, which really drove this to a straight home-run if you ask me. There’s a playful mingling of textures and flavours that not many desserts can boldly claim they achieve, but this recipe gets it right, for sure.
You know what else they nailed? Their Salted Caramel, Dulce De Leche, Praline, Whipped Cream (S$10) milkshake. If I had the capacity to try all five of them, I would, in a heartbeat. Alas, my appetite, mild intolerance for dairy, as well as common sense won’t allow it.
I was afraid for my first sip, not only for my tummy to start rumbling, but for me to find this absolutely cloying. To my delight, the salted caramel provided a nice rounded sweetness that enabled me to finish this with little struggle.
While there were some setbacks with the burgers, I fostered a bond between the Triple Cooked Agria Fries and the sweet endings. My craving for the fries stubbornly remain, and I foresee myself swinging by for a selfish serving all to myself, along with a milkshake for good measure. So, does CARNE Singapore live up to Chef Mauro Colagreco’s inescapable reputation?
Not quite, and I think that’s okay. Every new journey will start off rocky, and revered chef or not, there’s always room for improvement.
Expected Damage: S$25 – S$40 per pax
Price: $ $
Our Rating: 3 / 5
88 Amoy Street, Singapore 069907
88 Amoy Street, Singapore 069907