- When: March 2017
- Male DINK Rating: 13/15
- Female DINK Rating: 14/15
- Total Cost: $232; Food Cost: $174
Burnt Ends was a sort of last-minute addition to our plans for Singapore. Perhaps one of the reasons it wasn’t an immediate “must do” on this trip is similar to our slight apprehension of dining at Gaggan last week. Burnt Ends is categorized as “modern Australian barbecue,” and, while we have eaten our fair share of U.S. barbecue (we do live in Texas), we have not eaten much, if any, Australian barbecue. In short, we didn’t know what to expect. Additionally, we weren’t quite sure if we could fit another high-end meal in our schedule. But, upon Male DINK’s insistence, we made a reservation (via the Burnt Ends website) for counter seats at lunch…
…and we are glad we did! The small restaurant is located in the Chinatown neighborhood of Singapore and is surrounded by restaurants, bars, and shops. Upon entering, we were immediately seated at the long counter that directly overlooks the kitchen, similar to the seating at a sushi restaurant. Needless to say, there’s a great view of the goings-on in the kitchen from the counter seats.
The food menu is fairly short but full of interesting items. The drink and wine menu seemed adequate in terms of variety and scale of selection for the restaurant. After perusing the food menu, we were interested in the “Chef’s Select” option at the bottom, and we asked the waiter for an explanation. It’s basically what you would expect: Tell them how hungry you are and what your preferences are, and they will fill in the rest for you. Sounded fun, so we did it.
Shortly thereafter, Chef Dave Pynt himself came over and shook our hands. Standing behind the counter in the kitchen, he laughingly asked us how hungry we were and asked about food allergies, etc. He also asked us if there were any items on the menu that we would like for him to include in his selection, and we requested a few. Then, he walked over to his team, and it appeared that they wrote down their course selection for us on the spot – very cool.
Chef Pynt was active in the kitchen – either tasting, testing, cooking, or even serving us a course or two – during the majority of our meal. We’re not sure how often he is at the helm, but it was a fun experience to see him in action and know that our meal was up to his standards. Observing Chef Pynt during our meal, he seemed to be very serious about his craft, but he also had a smile on his face most of the time and appeared to be enjoying himself. He certainly has something to smile about, as Burnt Ends was recently ranked the 10th best restaurant in Asia on the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants (2017) list by the Worlds 50 Best Restaurants, moving up from 14th best in the previous year’s list.
Getting into the food, the first course was “Smoked Quail Egg and Caviar,” which was one of the courses we requested. Our only question is how does he get so much smoke flavor in the egg? Wow. The best part is that while the egg has a strong smoky flavor, it was not overpowering. The caviar gave a nice salty touch. Good start.
The next course was “Grissini and Taramasalata.” This was essentially a whole bunch of chopped herbs, including dill and chives, glued onto a paper-thin breadstick with a light and tart aioli. This dish had a lot of flavor, but was very light and bright. If I had to find fault, I’d scale back the aioli just a bit to let the herbs shine through more. Great course.
Next was “Steak Frites,” which was not on the menu. The base layer was a deep-fried (no doubt more than once) potato hash, topped with beef tartare, which was finished off with a very healthy portion of caviar. Oh boy. Yum. We’ve had several dishes that combine potatoes and caviar, so it was nice to see a new preparation. The caviar added a nice saltiness to the meat, as did the fried potato. Excellent course.
“Duck Hearts and Peri Peri” was next up. The hearts were bursting with flavor. They had a very nice smokiness to them, and Female DINK really liked the seasoning. Male DINK could have eaten several more of these, but felt like they could have been served without the accompanying sauce. Very good.
More meat to follow: “Jamaican Chicken and Lime Crema.” Again, excellent preparation and flavor. The chicken melted in your mouth, and Female DINK says it’s the best chicken she’s ever had. The lime crema was a great addition, here. We feel that if you’re going to put chicken on the menu at a top-rated restaurant, it better be great. This did not disappoint in the least. Excellent.
Next was the “Eggplant and Miso,” which was awesome. It was basically a tempura-fried baby eggplant, but it was so much more. There was a distinct smoke flavor that gave the dish depth. Female DINK really dislikes eggplant, but she thought this preparation was outstanding. Enough said.
The following dish consisted of “Beef Marmalade and Pickles.” The beef was served atop grilled bread, with pickles and chives accompanying. It feels like a broken record at this point, but the meat was truly exceptional. It was very rich, very tender, and very flavorful. The pickles provided a nice crunchy acidity and helped to balance the dish. Very good.
The final course before the main was “Leek, Hazelnut and Brown Butter,” which was another course we selected. If it’s possible for a vegetable to melt in your mouth, this leek did. The leek had a very good smoky flavor, and the brown butter provided a subtle saltiness, while the hazelnuts gave the dish a crunchy sweetness. Female DINK’s favorite bite was the one with the burnt end; how apropos.
The main course was “Onglet, Burnt Onion and Bone Marrow” (the last course we selected) and we were also served the “Bone Marrow Bun.” Chef Pynt himself presented these dishes to us, and joked that the Bone Marrow Bun was good for our health! The onglet was prepared beautifully and served atop a burnt onion sauce, which both of us thought was a bit intense and overpowering. On top of the onglet were bone marrow bits and herbs.
While the onglet was excellent, the real show stopper, we thought, was the crazy bone marrow- and herb-filled garlic bun. Definitely not good for your health, this sticky, fatty, buttery invention was worth every bite. Glad he thought this one up – excellent.
After trudging through the filling main course, we were (accidentally?) asked by a different waitress if we wanted any dessert, of which they only had one – “Plum and Blueberry Tart.” We said yes and were quickly presented with the tart and accompanying Chantilly cream. We both thought this was very good but not special. [This dessert was taken off our bill without any comment from us.]
Next, we were served a torched marshmallow that we watched the Chef prepare. It had a sort of citrus flavor that we thought was unique. Very good and gooey.
Finally, we were presented with some small petit fours consisting of a very smoky jelly and a smoky caramel-filled chocolate. Both were good, and we were happy to see the smoky theme carried all the way through to the end of the meal.
Overall, we felt like we couldn’t have really gone wrong on the menu. Everything we tried was great, if not excellent. We were also glad that we chose the “Chef’s Select” menu, as we got to sample a few dishes that we otherwise would not have consciously selected, such as the eggplant and chicken. Additionally, the atmosphere – sitting at the counter and having an open view of the kitchen – was great. Finally, we feel that Burnt Ends is a very good value for money.
After our wonderful lunch, we are surprised that Burnt Ends did not receive a Michelin star in the inaugural Michelin Guide for Singapore in 2016. Given the restaurant’s other recognitions, we’re sure it’s on the short list to receive at least one star in an upcoming guide. Regardless, we definitely think Burnt Ends is worth a stop if your plans include Singapore.
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