06 May Burnt Ends
20 Teck Lim Road
It really is gonna depend on how much steak and wine you order, I’d estimate around SGD90 per person including 200g of the cheapest steak each, before booze and tip (no service charge included). And it’s SG, so of course booze ain’t gonna be cheap.
Burnt Ends is the one restaurant in Singapore that I get asked about all the time by my HK homies re: whether they should bother going. Before I moved to Singapore (yes for the blog only homies, it’s true – I’ve left HK and it’s all about Majulah Singapura. But why be a blog only homie? Get onto my Fuck Yeah Insta or follow the rad as fuck Fuck Yeah Noms Facebook page or if you wanna get personal, friend the fuck out of me on my personal profile), I never made it there on my previous SG visits because I was too busy throwing myself head first through all the hawker centres ever. Burnt Ends is definitely a restaurant that has all the indications of a restaurant that international visitors are going to be all over because it always appears on those lists. You know, those stupid destination lists you read in the airplane magazines accompanied by a moody night time shot taken from outside the restaurant with the glow of the restaurant illuminating some beardy, tattooed chef in a leather apron with his arms crossed. It’s also #14 on the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017 list (as sponsored by S. Pellegrino and Acqua Pana) which means from a FYN perspective it’s also highly likely to be overrated AF, overpriced and a total ball ache to get into. For reals, when did we start giving any sort of weight from a problematic list sponsored by a WATER company, which doesn’t even require its “voters” to remain anonymous or pay for their own fucking meals?? Despite all of this, I ended up at Burnt Ends cause I still fucking love to check out hype beasts even if you’re odds on to be disappointed and destitute by the end of proceedings.
Now I get that reservations are a pain in the ass for every restaurant because customers are total dick bags who like to no show without giving any warning which kills your ability to get dem dollars, but as a diligent booking honouring customer, I just want to be able to book my shit and not have to wait hours for a table. Burnt Ends has this booking policy of only taking dinner bookings at early o’clock (ie. 6pm or 6:30pm) otherwise it’s walk in only. I’m definitely too much of an old, grumpy fucker who needs instant gratification to be dealing with being told it’s going to be two hours before I can get a table, even if it means that I can wait at Potato Head Folk across the road and get involved in some fuck yeah cocktails.
After about 90 minutes, I’m well liquored with fuck yeah cocktails and our table is ready. It’s the outside bench which faces onto the road, which I’m cool with but I’m guessing if you’re here for a special occasion or date night, you’re going to want to be inside so you can see the Burnt Ends show. As a restaurant that bills itself as Modern Australian barbecue, it’s all about its custom built four tonne, dual cavity ovens and three elevation grills. I can get behind what they’re trying to do, using wood ovens and grilling techniques to bring the best out in the fresh ingredients, letting the produce dictate what the daily menu should be. With everything that may be going on from a vibe and interior perspective, nothing can distract me from the fact that prices on this menu are substantial by the time you’re looking at whole point of being at Burnt Ends (ie. the roasted meats). Sure there’s some affordable snacks which range from SGD10 – SGD20, but by the time you’e looking at the meat section it’s SGD26 per 100g for flank, SGD50 per 100g for striploin and if you want to get into some 45 dry aged Mayura OP Rib, you’re gonna be laying down SGD490 per kg. Or perhaps you wanna try their famous roasted leek (with hazelnut and black truffle) at a mere SGD42 (+7% GST) – FUCK ME AND PAINT ME A POOR CONSERVATIVE for not wanting to get on board with laying down SGD42 to see just how good a leek can be.
Our server is friendly and efficient, talking us through the menu factually but not giving much more colour on top of that. When ordering our starters, it’s clear that they aren’t gonna be big and they are designed to be eaten by one to two people. The Grissini and Taramasalata (SGD12 +7% GST) is good fuck yeah times. Taramasalata is a Greek dip made from bread, onions, olive oil, fish roe and lemon juice. This brings back the memories of my Aussie-Greek friends would always bust this out at parties and as a mark of respect, I’d park myself right next to that dip bowl and pay it grave reverence by bowing my head and inhaling as much of this bread dip on more bread. But fuck, Burnt Ends’ version surely is delicious but SGD12+ for one piece of crisp flatbread with some dip on it? I’m not so fucking down with that but it does make me estimate the cost of the Taramasalata Takedowns I’ve executed at my Greek homies’ parties at around SGD180.
Next up is the Duck Hearts Peri Peri (SGD8 +7% GST) which I’m excited about cause I fucking love organs and all their chewy, interesting textures. There’s some peri peri sauce to give some contrast to the deep, iron of the hearts, but who fucking cares when these duck hearts are bitter little fuckers which have had the life cooked out of them? I try to move past this by having some Sobrasada (SGD14 +7% GST), but as delicious as raw cured sausage is with bread, there’s just nothing exciting at all about this dish. The Beef, Marmalade and Pickles (SGD14 +7% GST) is absolutely fine too, some braised beef which is using the acidity of the pickles and sweet marmalade on some more bread. I deliberate and chew on this, trying to process what is exactly so exceptional about this place which causes the hype machine to praise it as a BEST EVER or MUST VISIT in Singapore, nay, ASIA.
The Burnt Ends’ Sanger (SGD20+7% GST) is one of their famous, signature dishes which can only explain why I ordered something which sounds like the epitome of basic, boring “OMG FOOD IS SO GOOD, I’M SUCH A FOODIE, FOOD IS LIFE” fare. For reals, pulled pork shoulder – CHECK, coleslaw – CHECK, chipotle aioli – CHECK and you know it, my eternal and undying nemesis – brioche bun – CHECK. Wahhhhhhh, get my hair shirt out and squeeze it onto my cliche filled body cause I’m obviously a sadomasochist fucker who wants to flog myself with the cat-o-nine tails of trendy food cliches. The hits keep coming and even though it’s SGD20 and stuffed full of trendy food tropes, it’s so fucking tiny and most def food for ants. I get my scalpel and surgical mask out so I can dissect this to share amongst us and find it hard to focus because my eyes are starting to glaze over as I choke back another yawn. In that one bite there’s the pulled pork which is a bit dry and soggy coleslaw, which causes the brioche to lose its structural shit because NEWSFLASH, BRIOCHE IS GOOD FOR FUCKING NOTHING. Oh, you know where this is going, FUCK NO. But because it’s minuscule, I guess at least its lacklustre SGD20+ fuck no sting is swift?
For our steak, I opted for the Flank with Burnt Onion and Bone Marrow (SGD26 per 100g +7% GST) cause fuck no, I can’t afford no SGD50 per 100g + 7% GST striploin shenanigans. Like most things I ate at Burnt Ends it was cooked well and tasty enough, but there’s nothing exceptional that sticks in my memory. Maybe it’s cause I cheaped out and didn’t go for the ball breaking SGD50/100g option? But I don’t think it’s unreasonable that I expect that a SGD26/100g steak option should leave some sort of impression on me other than “I guess it wasn’t fucking terrible”?
In this sea of high priced malaise, it’s the Bone Marrow Bun (SGD12 +7% GST) which finally manages to shake a little bit of fuck yeah excitement into my Burnt Ends #asiastop50 life. A sesame flecked bun which is wrapped in foil and baked til it’s crispy as fuck on the outside but still soft on the inside with its fuck yeah bone marrow stuffing, all melted and buttery. I have so many fuck yeah feelings regarding this bun, that I double down and get another order of it.
So, I get that Burnt Ends’ jam is meant to be food which show cases the ingredients but there’s the difference in doing the ingredients right and not overcomplicating things, while still showing me something new and then just doing shit in a fine but completely unremarkable manner. Burnt Ends is in no way terrible and these hyped up restaurants are always battling against expectation but for me, if I have to lay down the big bucks, I want something that makes me pause and think about what’s going on. Not just that each bite is costing me too much money for a complete lack of excitement, regardless of whatever fancy as fuck grill and oven contraptions you may be slinging in the kitchen.
Fuck no because shit ain’t worth the bucks nor the no booking palaver. But if you’re visiting Singapore and really wanna get involved, I recommend ordering two Bone Marrow Buns and smashing a glass of red before applying the appropriate hashtags to your Instagram post and moving along. But I will concede, there’s a few people where you’d still be so fucking excited about Burnt Ends, such as:
- You’ve been in a coma for the last 15 years and someone using a grill on meat in a restaurant and eating something delicious on a piece of toasted bread is the most amazing concept you’ve ever heard of
- You like going to restaurants which are on lists because getting to tag your shit with #asias 50best, thank the chef for looking after you and listing which arbitrary ranking number it came in at because this still counts for something in your dull, desolate existence.
- You’re an old fucker who’s now living DA ASIA LYFE and you need to take your hot new young thing to DATE NIGHT to show you’re still hip with the homies but you also don’t want to feel too Old Man River eating a SGD45++ serve of sea urchin on a grey, soulless slate while an immaculate waitress listlessly serves you extra bitch face as you try to get your ancient bones to deal with sitting on a concrete slab bench as ambient techno discretely throbs in the background.
- Someone else is fucking paying, so who gives a fuck if you’re dropping all the bucks ever on pedestrian but still delicious, overpriced bits of meat on bread.
For everyone else, there’s most def more interesting and fuck yeah eats to spend your Sing Buckas on.