New Burnt Ends Dempsey Hill Location Heralds Bigger Things for Singapore’s Most Popular Smokehouse
The sands of time furtively glide, slowly and steadily. Times change. People mature. Only one thing remains constant — the unabating adulation for local smokehouse titan Burnt Ends.
Even through tumultuous times, this smoked meat lover’s sanctuary withstood everything the world had thrown at it. Demand relentlessly intensified and the trophy shelf grew in congestion from Michelin Stars and World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards.
Almost a decade into its genesis at its iconic Keong Saik home, it was time for Burnt Ends to grow with the times, into their new standing, and into a space with the capacity to house the insane uptick in people clamouring for their hard-to-book covers.
2022 marked new beginnings as the Burnt End collective transplanted itself into an idyllic colonial house at dazzling Dempsey Hill.
The roomy compound was the perfect spot for a new colony to take root as Burnt Ends reintroduced their Bakery at one end, the main dining hall in the centre, and a chic new bar at the other end.
Still, ambition hasn’t tainted the collective and they retain that trademark edge and no-BS approach to food that has endured since the early days at the Keong Saik eighteen-seater.
Starting Fast and Furious
The proof is in the pudding so we got down to the dirty fast. The quintessential order of herbaceous Grissini and Taramasalata ($14)? Remained as intensely saporous and crunchy as our palates remembered.
Following it up was, in my opinion, Burnt End’s magnum opus — the Beef Marmalade ($16) in all its splendorous decadent glory. It was, remarkably, indistinguishable from my first memory of it.
As sleek and luscious as a suave Cassanova’s sweet nothings, it exploded like a grenade — spilling rich juices all over the blast zone in my mouth like an umami WMD.
The massive crowd favourite of the Burnt Ends Sanger Burger ($20), however, did fall slightly short of the lofty standards previously set by itself.
A heavily compressed glut of pulled pork was set to command the stage with voluminous reserves of juice but, while still well spiced, turned out drier than expected. Still a flavoursome beast but lacking in the intricacies that made it such a blockbuster burger.
Familiar to regulars, the off-menu Maitake and Egg with Back Truffle ($48) was also exceedingly comforting as always — granted it was just a few mouthfuls but the porridge was silky smooth.
Everything was made even cosier by sensually smoky mushrooms, tasting like home — if it was lined up with plush luxe carpets under a rustic fireplace. That homely, but somehow also luxurious profile, is something Burnt Ends excels at.
A Church of Smoke & Meat
One aspect remains steadfast — Burnt Ends isn’t a place with pretensions. The cooking is straightforward, unadulteratedly rich, and centred on produce worship. This is a church of smoke and meat.
It’s not where you go for high-concept fine dining but it’s simplicity at its finest. Their artistry of smoke and meat is like pop art and is easily appreciated by most people. Burnt Ends are more like the Andy Warhol of meat, rather than Picasso.
That produce worship is most apparent when Burnt Ends’ legendary King Crab Legs and Garlic Sauce ($95) had us tearing through the blissfully luscious flesh like junkies, clamouring for the next hit of that dangerously addictive garlic butter sauce.
We even got some Sourdough ($5) to mop up the cocaine-like concoction and ensured not a single drop was wasted. Unfortunately, while great vessels for mopping up Burnt End’s irresistible sauce, they were dreadfully stale.
Regrettably, the oceanic catch that followed it up felt like a bit of an anticlimax — the special of Octopus Romesco ($45) was mundane in overall scope and even the textures felt like they were lacking the buoyancy top Spanish restaurants have perfected.
However, Burnt Ends did bring the climactic flavour train back on track as the Roasted Chicken ($65) reached the station just in time to save the day.
A memorable new introduction to me that impressed me with its tremendous flavour and unique Peri Peri zing, tied together by a complexly sharp garlic sauce.
If you’re a steak fan, you’d probably have heard of Burnt End’s steaks. The Beef Tenderloin ($72.20/190g) presented itself with an enticingly sanguine pink centre, accompanied by a moreish burnt onion sauce to elevate the entire ensemble.
Undoubtedly still a pretty good steak but left a bit too chewy on this occasion, compared to the Flat Iron ($59.50/170g) cut from my previous visit.
Chasing on the tail of the steak was their iconic Bone Marrow Bun ($12). Rich and robust it may be, it was also a rather unctuous eat and not something suit for those who steer clear of excess fattiness.
The Sweet End of Burnt Ends
It’s probably sacrilege to declare this as one of my top picks with Burnt Ends’ produce-focused meat artistry, but these crusty Marshmallows ($3) were the best to have graced my palate.
Not only were they pillowy soft with intoxicating smoky notes amidst that glorious caramelisation, a spry touch of cinnamon imbued a certain je ne sais quo to these stunning toasted candies.
In comparison, the Berry Tart ($12), another classic Burnt Ends dessert, was just well-made with some vibrant berry zest but seemed pretty homespun. More of a familiar comfort option, for sure.
Burnt Ends isn’t a life-changing experience. But it still goes toe-to-toe with other Michelin establishments utilising just sound, high-level execution without depending on high concepts. Is it overrated? Yes — by its rabid casual fans. Is it underrated? Strangely, also yes — by those who expect a profound culinary revelation.
Ultimately, at the new Dempsey site, there’s more space and more room for refinement in the future. It’s best described as a future-proofing glow-up instead of a drastic makeover, as even the rust and wood palette intimately reminds you of the halcyon Keong Saik days.
Regulars don’t have to be wary of de rigueur practices and white linen — the familiar chatter from staff, and the exposed flames of the open kitchen all stay very much rooted in the status quo. Burnt Ends might have moved to Dempsey Hill but their uncompromisable spirit moved with them.
Make your reservations here.
- Address: 7 Dempsey Rd, #01-04, Singapore 249671
- Hours: (Tues) 6pm–11pm, (Wed–Sat) 11:45am–11pm