I've been dying to give this place a try for the longest time, for I have heard great reviews about it from all and sundry who have eaten here - ranging from food luminaries such as Tan Hsueh Yun and Debbie Yong and the food bloggers, to my friends who swear by their beef onglet with bone marrow and smoked quail eggs.
An old school friend of mine and I were scheduled to catch up last week and so I suggested Burnt Ends - to which he had no objection. It was rather fortunate that I went slightly earlier since the queue really intensified after I sat down - with many customers turned away since the restaurant was already full.
The chef, Dave Pynt, learnt his ropes at the famed wood-fire restaurant known as Extebarri, which is located in the Basque country. To the uninitiated, Extebarri is famous for its oven / smoker which coaxes the most smoky, powerful flavours and primal flavours from food. It's not namby pamby tippy tappy stuff but caveman food just as it was eaten a long time ago. At Burnt Ends, I was informed that Dave designed and built the oven himself, and this was probably from the skills he learnt at Extebarri. And, not surprisingly given the name, Burnt Ends specialises in use of the grill and the oven, this sort of primal caveman food that's sure to satisfy your soul - nothing fanciful and chichi about the food here.
I started off with a "warmed oyster" which was an oyster that's warmed up just so - pretty delicious, consisting of a salty and briny oyster juxtaposed with a slightly burnt and smoky gravy. Quite good although much of it would actually depend on the actual oysters used. The day I went, I am guessing it was a Coffin bay oyster. (8/10) - since they served Coffin Bay oysters by the half-dozen as well.
Next up, we had Burnt End's famous smoked quail eggs - these small morsels of quail eggs were smoked and had that smoky flavour. I've heard lots of hype about it but I felt these were perhaps just okay - I was probably not as enthused on those as the rest of my friends were. (7/10)
I really enjoyed the next dish though - this was the kingfish which came with apples. The kingfish was delicious - lots of nice charred bits on the outside (see the photo to your left), and the meat of the fish was very tender and juicy, replete with plenty of delicious fish oils. The whole oiliness of the fish was well-balanced with the tartness of the green apples which managed to cut through that richness. (8.5/10). To me this was the star of the show and one of the best dishes of the night.
Last but certainly not least, the beef onglet with bone marrow arrived at our table. This was another delicious dish which was bursting with flavour. I had my first bite and encountered the most smoky beef ever, a srtong beefy taste and accompanied by an incredibly rich sauce. It was really tender and succulent. (8.25/10)
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the meal at burnt ends. Certainly I can see why it's such a popular restaurant, and the crowds don't lie as to the extent of the excellence of the cooking here. Loh Lik Peng (the owner) and Andre Chiang's partnership has done it again.