SINGAPORE | Burnt Ends Singapore describes itself as a “modern Australian barbecue” restaurant and has received a lot of praise since opening in 2013 for its innovative food. More than one person I’ve spoken to has referred to their experience at Burnt Ends as one of the highlights of their dining year, and indeed it currently sits at number 30 on the San Pellegrino list of Asia’s 50 best restaurants. It also made Zagat’s list of “Top 10 restaurants in the world” in 2014. To say that I was expecting amazing things is an understatement.
What exactly though, is modern Australian barbecue? Most people’s image of Australian barbecue is the gas burner grill, with a range of steaks and beef sausages being turned one too many times until charred and well done. Speak to an American and the enduring image of Paul Hogan talking about “throwing a shrimp on the barbie” will come up more often then it should.
Head chef and co-owner Dave Pynt, who left Australia to spend time learning about barbecue with charcoal master Victor Arguinzoniz at Asador Etxebarri, and did a stint at Noma before opening a highly regarded pop-up in London has taken all of his knowledge and used it to create something special, something that takes inspiration from not just Australian barbecue, but American, Spanish and British barbecue too. Smoking, slow roasting, hot roasting, baking, grilling and cooking directly on coals are all methods that are employed to get the best out of the fresh, high quality, seasonal product that’s used.
There are a range of small plate options on the menu which is written from scratch each day, however it’s the barbecued meat that’s the draw card here. Meat is cooked using custom built 4 tonne, dual cavity ovens and 3 elevation grills. Grabbing one of the 17 highly sought after seats at the bar, one can see the precision with which this equipment is operated, and the temperature and flames controlled to ensure optimal cooking conditions are achieved. It’s like watching a well oiled machine operate with understated theatrics.
The drinks menu contains a focused selection of wines, primarily Australian small growers; family wineries, regional styles and varietals. Artisanal spirits are also offered, along with a small selection of craft beers from Australia and elsewhere.
Smoked Quail Egg & Caviar ($15.00)
What a way to start a meal. The smokiness that infused the quail egg was subtle and accompanied the saltiness of the caviar perfectly. Such a simple item that was executed flawlessly.
Duck Hearts & Peri Peri ($10.00)
I’m a big fan of chicken hearts, having been introduced to them in the Izakayas of Japan but had never come across duck hearts before. These were cooked to perfection – again a subtle smokiness combined with the slight heat and sweetness of the peri peri sauce to create magical bite sized delights. The duck hearts were cooked perfectly and were slightly chewy but not overly so.
Kingfish, Green Mango & Pepperomia ($15.00)
The meat might be the draw card at Burnt Ends but that doesn’t mean that the non-meat dishes aren’t also fantastic. This lightly cured kingfish ceviche went well the the tropical flavours and the dish was a good way to mix things up before returning to the meaty end of the scale.
Rump Cap, Burnt Onion & Bone Marrow ($26.00 per 100g)
It was a tough choice to decide which of the larger plates I would go for but in the end I settled for this. The rump cap was cooked to perfection. Salty with an intense charcoal grilled crust and beautifully pink inside, each bite was confirmation that there is still good in this world. The bone marrow melted in my mouth when it hit my tongue and the burnt onion sauce was indulgently delicious. This is how you do steak.
Burnt Ends promised a lot, and somehow managed to exceed my high expectations. There wasn’t a single thing on the menu that I didn’t want to try – indeed one of the dishes that I didn’t try, the Burnt Ends’ Sanger (a pulled-pork sandwich with chipotle aioli and coleslaw), is considered by many to be one of the menu’s highlights. From service to the food and the atmosphere, everything was excellent and I too, now count my meal at Burnt Ends as one of my dining highlights of the year. If only it was possible to find Australian barbecue like this in Australia.
20 Teck Lim Road
Tue: 6:00pm to late
Wed – Sat: 11:40am to 2:00pm; 6:00pm to late