Thursday, September 28, 2023

Burnt Ends Re-visited

It was definitely not the same Burnt Ends that we last visited when it's still in its old Chinatown location. What used to be a tight, cozy space with nothing but a long kitchen bar and hole-in-the-wall vibe has been converted into a much larger space slightly off the city center and completed with separate bar and dining areas in the hip neighborhood of Dempsey Hills converted from an old military barracks. 

But even with more covers (from less than 20 in the past to now over 100), a booking was still so hard to come by, especially the counter seat in front of the kitchen and the tables at the main dining area. I managed to get the “second best” option of a seat at the cocktail bar counter with rather short notice, courtesy of my friend G who is a friend of its owner and chef Dave. 

While the kitchen bar and main dining area are loud and lively (and full of cooking actions), the bar was much cozy and subdued, which was what I needed after a long day at work and with the gloomy weather all week long and perfect for solo dining. I also like the wooden decor with high ceiling giving the space a rustic feel.  

Drinks are the focus at the Cocktail Bar (obviously) and they have an interesting selection of wines, liquors and cocktails, but the food selection is somewhat limited. One could order a la carte from the bar menu with a dozen or so choices (mainly bite-sized snacks) or one could go for the "tasting menu" which they called "Burnt Ends' Classics", which included some of the old signature dishes carried over from the original Burnt Ends.

The Burnt Ends' Classics was just perfect with everything presented in tasting portion and while the menu was priced for 2 persons, they let me order the set for one person with adjusted portion (and price). One of the key differences between the main dining room menu and cocktail bar menu (other than the number of choices) are the type of dishes - the food at cocktail bar menu was prepared in the kitchen inside rather than off the barbecue grill. 

Some were the timeless classics that were on the menu since Day One and still as good as I remembered, including the smoked quail egg topped with caviar, and of course the Burnt Ends Sanger with pulled pork and cole slaw served on the sourdough buns. Both the grissini and taramasalata and beef marmalade were served like an open sandwich, with the former topped with cured pollock roe emulsified and topped with herbs, and the latter served with the signature slow-cooked beef brisket mixed with caramelized onion and served with toast with melted cheese at the bottom and pickles and chives on top. 

Crab and Pork Grill Sticker was served like a hybrid between a gyoza and raviolo made using pasta dough but cooked like a pot sticker on a pan with marinated crab and pork filling. The Jamaican chicken was tiny even in tasting portion standard but packed with flavor with the mini chicken wings smother with spices on top, grilled then finished with lime crema on top. The classic marshmallow was lovely – super sweet and well-charred – plus the small slice of berry tart as dessert. 

Their drink list was far longer than the food one with everything from the classics to the more adventurous. I began with Sueno de Juarrez, with Tequilla Blanco and Mezcal with Bird’s Eye Chili Syrup and finished with Cherrywood Smoke infused done right at the counter. I then asked the bartender for a bespoke drink, and he fixed me up with a another tequila-based one with cucumber, yogurt and clarified lime juice for the tropical refreshing flavor 

My verdict? Great drinks, decent pub food. Michelin-starred quality dishes? Hmm I may not go as far as that. But fun place to chill and wind down? Absolutely. Having a nice conversation with the couple sitting next to me certainly helped. I would still prefer the seat at the kitchen counter with front row view of all the cooking action off the charcoal grill for my next visit (and make sure I plan well ahead of time), the bar counter wasn't too shabby an option as some might say, especially when I was just looking for something simple and easy and if it's the only choice available.

Pardon the quality of the photos - it's not the friendliest place for photography as far as lighting is concerned. 

When? July 19 2023
Where? Burnt Ends Singapore, 7 Dempsey Road, #01-04, Singapore
Menu Highlights? Burnt End Sanger

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