Burnt Ends: A Melange of Smoke and Flavour in a Mid-Century Colonial Military Barracks

Dive into the union of Dave Pynt’s culinary artistry and Emma Maxwell’s imaginative design in a space that tantalises with mystery and allure.

09 October 2023

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Photo Credit: Elsen Ho / FoodNews for Saladplate

Fire, skulls, and AC/DC make for an unusual backdrop for a Michelin-starred establishment but Burnt Ends, famed for its uniquely creative wood-fired flavours, is anything but conventional.

A one Michelin-star restaurant since 2018, it currently ranks #65 on the 2023 World’s 50 Best Restaurants List and #24 on the 2023 Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants List. It is also high on the bucket lists of gourmands who visit Singapore. Helmed by the charismatic Dave Pynt, the Perth native known for his culinary style where flavours are meticulously crafted with nuances teased out over open flames and coals, now welcomes regulars to a 7,000 sq ft setting in Singapore’s Dempsey Hill that mirrors the drama of his flame-cooked dishes. What was once a mid-century colonial military barracks, has transformed into Burnt Ends’ epitome – combining fire, wood, and heat with distinctive style – a space that Pynt sees as a stage to reposition himself as a chef telling a new story.

Photo Credit: Burnt Ends

For this, Dave worked together with fellow antipodean Emma Maxwell to bring to life her one-liner design pitch: “Fire, skulls, and AC/DC”. Unperturbed by structural limitations and building around a “temporary structure that has stood the test of time”, she deftly navigated the constraints to create a theatrical dining environment accommodating a restaurant, bakery, private room, and cocktail bar.

Inside, the dimly lit, moody space, a 5,000 black lava stone tubular installation light is just one of the innumerable decor distractions that await diners. There’s the custom 4-tonne wood-burning oven blazing at 1,000 degrees, cabinets of curiosities filled with items ranging from cookbooks from Dave’s personal collection to Faberge eggs and custom-crafted glassware, not to mention an array of skull figurines and walls lined with naturally contrasting panels of petrified wood and timber already darkening with age.

Photo Credit: Burnt Ends

“When I design a restaurant, I always think about creating a three-dimensional world that directly reflects the chef and their ethos.” Shared Emma. “Dave uses fire in the most incredible elemental, transformative, and sophisticated manner in which to cook. That’s what I’ve also achieved throughout the Burnt Ends spaces.”

Drawing inspiration from the transformative power of fire, smoke, heat, and the idea of metamorphosis, she crafted each space like a theatre script, offering varied narratives as guests traverse the spaces. “Just as ingredients transform through the process of fire, time, and heat, so do the spaces”, she shared. True to this theme, the restaurant’s timbers have darkened over time, and the venue exudes a dynamic smoky aroma, from the dining room down to the bakery and the recently opened cocktail space — the last piece of the puzzle.

Photo Credit: Burnt Ends

In collaboration with theatre designer Marc McIntyre, the enchanting bar space represents Burnt Ends “Act 3”, a tableau crafted from diverse inspirations. Drawing cues from London’s Victoria and Albert Museum and the enlightenment era of the late 17th to early 19th century, she reshaped traditional design aesthetics, introducing a playful ambience to the bar through whimsical cabinets of curiosities showcasing items like anatomy charts, vintage pipettes, and compasses.

“The bar is about how elements can alter from raw ingredients and then be shape-shifted into something far outside the sphere of the imagination. I was thinking about how Dave transforms things with such mastery and to me the incredible cocktails at Burnt Ends Bar are indeed wildly wonderful and imaginative manifestations that combine unexpected elements together and create perfection.”

Burnt Ends in its new avatar is a world where culinary artistry meets design brilliance delivering a dining destination brimming with flavour and flair.

Photo Credit: Burnt Ends

Author: Charlene Fang

Charlene Fang is a US-based writer, editor and content strategist. Originally from Singapore, she writes for lifestyle and travel publications such as Condé Nast Traveler, AFAR, Forbes Travel Guide and Louis Vuitton Guides and was previously an editor at CNNGO and Time Out. View her portfolio at www.charlenefang.co

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