Finally managed to find the time and get a table booking for Burnt Ends. Only one timing for reservations at 6 to 6.30pm, thereafter is try-your-luck-at-the-door.
Burnt once at Teppei, so am approaching this highly hyped restaurant with a hint of trepidation and slightly blunted expectations.
Open kitchen concept with bar-style sittings - except for one long table at the end. Loud music, poor acoustics, so definitely not the place for an intimate night out.
Service was polite and acceptable, but nothing to rave about. Good explanation of the menu and their house specials but rather didactic. More rote memory regurgitation than personal taste and expression. The bartender was too busy with the caucasian ladies at his end to be effective.
The open kitchen is a good concept if the team is strong. And here, they evidently are. It can be clearly seen that they work well together, but sadly, even mistakes are easily witnessed by the guests (if they are paying attention). However, that is one of the pleasures of an open kitchen by witnessing the chef take control.
Anyways, as for the food. Pacing needs to be better. The prices are on the high side of acceptable, except for their alcohol which were grossly over-priced. And you better like your Aussie wines, because that is all they have. To each his own poison.
The starters were all ready-prepared. The smoked quail eggs were a delight. Soft-boiled with a light smoky taste to the whites and the woody fragrance within the yolk. The crackling was excellent but the mustard-mayo was a bit too much and could use a bit more kick.
The duck hearts were well grilled - reminds one of the chicken hearts in the yakitori-yas. It went well with the burnt artichokes, however the aioli mix did not add much other than to mask the slightly bloody smell of the muscles (which is to be expected if you order heart).
The quail was a standout. Succulent, soft and tasty. Very good except the sauce was too heavy. Covered too much of the natural taste of the bird which was a pity.
Then we had the Burnt Ends Sangers. Essentially a pulled pork burger with melted cheese and jalepenos. I could just come down here to get this as a take-away and will be happy. Very well grilled and soft pork with the appropriate bite from the cheese and spice from the chilli. A good sign if I am eating with my fingers by this point.
Then the disappointments came. Sadly, the beef were all missing the mark.
Costing $75/100g with a minimum order of 250g, you get a nice piece of well-marbled wagyu beef. But a) Australian wagyu can never compare to Japaneses wagyu; b) Wagyu never does very well as a piece of steak because of the fat content. Therefore, despite the excellent grilling and temperature control, yielding a perfectly pink steak with a crisp outer layer flavoured with just some coarse sea salt, the taste itself stills fall behind a well-aged and dried, grain fed USDA or Aussie ribeye. So, do order with the appropriate expectations.
The King Crab was a delight though. Well grilled, tasty and sweet with a fitting butter and capers sauce. However, freshness is top grade. It is fresh, but not Japanese-fresh. You can taste it in the meat. The texture lacked the firmness.
Skip the weak drip coffee.
Desserts were acceptable. Good way to end the meal, but also nothing much to shout about. The pineapple with rum and vanilla was slightly better than the banana and (salted) caramel. Got a free apricot cake too, and that was much better. A good balance of sweet, sour and salty, and soft and crumbly.
Verdict: Will come again, but maybe not with a booking.