July 18, 2016
Burnt Ends @ Teck Lim Road, Chinatown ~ Modern Australian BBQ Restaurant with Hot Food, Cold Service
On its website, Burnt Ends pitch itself as "A modern Australian barbeque offering casual dining with seating at countertop table looking directly into the open kitchen".
Well, we did sit at one of the counter seats, looked into the open kitchen, and I must add, a lot of stoic faces as the crew went about churning out fare that's worthy of accolades. Burnt Ends is voted #14 in the Asia's 50 Best 2016 and #30 in 2015, and debuted at #70 on World's Best 2016.
No doubt the food is of delectable quality, also based on the numerous positive reviews online and my personal experience during the visit last week. Each dish we had looked simple yet encompassed intense flavors. Tasty and certainly engaging on the palate.
Take for instance, the Jamaican Chicken ($10). Presented nakedly on the black slate plate with just a dallop of lime crema by the side, the boneless mid-joint pieces looked totally nondescript, yet that whiff of smokey aroma was intoxicating. It was all of beautifully spiced and succulent deliciousness upon each chew.
Oohhhhhh..... Definitely not your typical barbeque chicken wings. Then again, Burnt Ends is not any ordinary barbeque place.
Helmed by chef David Pynt, and backed by hotelier and restaurateur Loh Lik Peng, this is another gem under the Unlisted Collection group. Chef Andre Chiang co-owns this casual joint as well.
Various cooking techniques - smoking, roasting, baking, grilling and cooking directly on coals - are employed to maximize the capabilities of the custom-built grill, and the specially-designed four tonne, dual cavity, apple and almond wood ovens which can fire up to 800ºC.
The heat indeed made a magical difference in providing that added intensity in flavors to the dishes. Of course, mastery control of flame and timing to suit different ingredients matters a lot too.
Though there is no fixed menu per se as offerings changes depending on the availability of produce, the popular Burnt Ends' Sanger ($20) has remained as a mainstayer. It's easy to understand why.
Let's start from the brioche bun. Pillowy soft, wondrously fluffy, buttery and eggy, it is all that a well-baked brioche should be.
Stuff it with generously with savory pulled pork shoulder, crunchy coleslaw and creamy chipotle aioli, there you have it, a combination that's utterly winning in textures and taste!
If you see Smoked Quail Egg & Caviar ($15 per piece) on the menu, order it!
Even though it can be considered costly for that one tiny bite, there was no hesitation on our side. We were happily rewarded with the egg's QQ bounciness which exploded with a gush of molten yolk.
The little pearls of caviar were just icing on the cake.
Having just returned from Sydney where it's truffle season and I had more than a satisfying dose of it (freshly-shaved truffles on ice cream, donut and steamed custard, just to name a few), I skipped the Leek, Hazelnut & Black Truffle ($42) and opted for the other vegetable dish of Garlic Shoots & Gremolata ($12).
We would have ordered the Steak Frites too if the kitchen is serving the marinated steak tartare and caviar item that day. It looked so enticing on Instagram. But the waiter told us, "It's very expensive you know, $35 per piece", before repeating it again when we asked more questions. We couldn't ascertain from his tone if he's implying that we can't afford it, genuinely concern for our wallets or trying to dissuade us from ordering an overpriced dish.
Anyway, for mains, we had 200 grams of Onglet, Burnt Onion & Bone Marrow ($26 per 100g). Onglet, or hanger steak, might not be the most premium of cuts, but this was executed most perfectly to juicy tenderness. The bone marrow imparted such a lip-smacking richness to the dish.
Our tummies were quite stuffed by then, or else will order some Sourdough ($5) to mop up all that sauce. We skipped the dessert of Cherry & Blueberry Tart ($12) too.
As for the service, it did meet an efficient and competent level. Plates were cleared and water topped up promptly, menu was explained to us when we didn't quite understand some of the dishes, a server helped to keep the macaron my friend made for me in their fridge and provided a paper bag when requested. But we felt an underlying coldness.
I took a double look in disbelief when chef David posed for my camera. Have I done something wrong? I had asked the staff beforehand if I can take a picture of the chef, and he assisted me by asking the chef to turn around. I just took one shot with no flash (no flash photography was used at all throughout the meal).
"That's his signature pose", the staff quickly said. Oh well.....
Would you be offended or amused? It could be cultural differences, but it doesn't hurt to be more mindful. I can imagine at least one or two of my friends "flipping table" or walking out of the meal (which she did before when the chef was rude and arrogant).
Burnt Ends, even though we have nothing to fault of the food, the bridge is already burnt for us to return again.
Address: 20 Teck Lim Road, Singapore 088391
Contact: +65 6224 3933
Opening Hours: Lunch Wed-Sat 11.45am-2pm / Dinner Tue-Sat 6pm-late / Closed on Sun & Mon
Prices are (1) Stated in Singapore dollars (2) Subject to 7% GST, no service charge (3) Correct at point of published date.