The Mitchell Lin Guide: Burnt Ends

A re-review of that wood-fired grill place
by JUNK
Mitchell LinSeptember 21, 2018
Looking for a second opinion on that Michelin-starred restaurant people won’t stop talking about? Introducing the Mitchell Lin Guide, where JUNK re-reviews Singapore’s Michelin-rated dining establishments. 100% local. 100% honest.

Restaurant

Burnt Ends

 Cuisine

Australian Barbecue

What Mitchell Lin says...

“Perfectly cooked meats. Enjoyable drinks. A buzzy atmosphere. If you like all of those things, Burnt Ends is your place.”

 

Best for…

Grilled things, easy nights out with a pair of friends

Worst for…

Intimate dinners, big family get-togethers

The Food

As we squeezed ourselves onto Burnt End’s tiny wall-facing counter seats, the first thing we heard was the gushing of the middle-aged Indian man sitting directly behind us (see Overheard, below). Not only was the food “fantastic” and “super”, he also proceeded to loudly proclaim Burnt Ends to be “the best place in Singapore”. Such lavish praise! Evidently, this is what it’s like to visit a restaurant a few weeks after it gets its first Michelin star. But if you’re not the kind to get your head turned by a star, what does Burnt Ends really have to offer?

First, we started with the Jamaican Jerk Chicken and Lime Crema – two tender mid-wings, cleverly deboned so that you can pick up a portion like a skewer, and it slips off the bone in your mouth. Effort. Taste-wise, the seasoning had punch and was nicely offset by the tangy yoghurt sauce that accompanied it. But at $12 for the whole plate, we can’t help but think, “That’s all?” $6 for a half wing? Sure if you compare it to fine dining, it’s cheap, but it’s literally a wing and some sauce. For the same price, you could get four times as many chicken wings at a hawker stall. Is a Burnt Ends chicken wing four times as nice? Hmmm… we’re on the fence.

Luckily, we had no reservations about the Beef Marmalade and Pickles that came next. Piled high onto a soft piece of gently toasted bread, a generous scoop of extra-tender meat cooked with a thick, sweet glaze that, yes, had something fruity about it. Fig, maybe? The sweet cucumber pickle on top lent just the slightest kick of vinegar to draw it all together. This, we can do.

Both mains came at once. With anticipation, we dove into the Tenderloin with Burnt Onion and Bone Marrow, one of the most popular dishes on the menu. Undeniably, the meat was beautifully cooked – melty and pink in the middle, and edged with a char that inches towards bitterness but doesn’t quite meet it. The bone marrow sauce tasted like a thick, sweet wine sauce – not a bad thing. Unfortunately, the watercress salad that came with was too salty, but oh well.

Our second main was the Pork Chop, which we ordered on a whim, but turned out to be the dark horse of the meal. It looked so unassuming when it arrived – on a giant white plate sat a slab of pork, dressed in gravy, and a spoonful of apple puree beside it. It looked plain. Almost boring? And yet one taste revealed a marvelously rich bite of meat – juicy, toothsome, but tender, and with just the right amount of sweetness coming through from the apple puree. Pork chops are easy to get wrong. But this one was all right.

To round off the meal, we ordered a side of Butterhead Lettuce, Shallots and Vinaigrette, which continued the watercress’ trend of over-salted vegetables. Why can’t they put the salt in the dressing, as opposed to sprinkling it on top? Vegetables are not meat. Then we finished with the Chocolate Fondant and Smoked Ice Cream for dessert. The smoked ice cream felt a little gimmicky and tasted like… what you imagine eating vanilla ice cream out of an ash tray would taste like. Could there actually be a demographic of people that this appeals to? Maybe, but it just didn’t tickle our taste buds.

It was sad to end our meal on that note, because, otherwise, Burnt Ends shines bright at the things it does well – namely, grilling meats, making drinks, and generally putting you at ease. Despite the meal’s uneven moments (and the lol-worthy presence of star-chasing Michelin devotees), we had a good time. And what else can we ask for, really?

The Extras

Ambience

Burnt Ends has its charms – the sparks flying up from the grill, the smell of smoke in the air, and the cosiness of the place all add up to a vibe that could translate as a fresh, unpretentious counterpoint to fussy, white-tablecloth dinners. But if you’re not in the mood, the 2000s indie-rock playlist, the tightness of the seating, and the general noisiness can start to wear thin by the time dessert rolls around. Don’t just take our word for it; a solo diner we spotted at the bar had to resort to headphones and a Kindle in order to enjoy his last course in peace. Yikes.

Overheard

“Really, really, good. Fantastic. Super.”
“This is a Michelin chef. We should come here again.”
“Yeah, so in ‘Straya [Australia], we would go…”

Service

It’s alright. The level of service you get feels appropriate to the vibe. As in, you get attention but it’s more of a democratic “welcome to our place” kind of thing, as opposed to a deferential “your water glass will constantly refill as if by magic” kind of thing.

Price

$$$$$

It’s cheapish by fine dining standards, but not really by any other standard.

 
 

Itsy bitsy chicken wingies... Yummy, but don't so stingy, can?

Is beef marmalade really a thing? Whatever, at least there's a decent amount of it.

Really tender and quite beautifully cooked.

Of all the pork chops we've ever eaten, it is the best.

Meh. If we wanted to taste something this smoky, wouldn't we just smoke?

Tastes mildly of orange but other than that, just a toasted marshmallow.

Look at all the people, the fire, the action – it's so buzzy in here!

Photos taken with the Huawei P20 Pro.


 
 

Read the rest of the Mitchell Lin Guide here.

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