31 Oct 2015
Another hipster burger joint from overseas, one more brazen claim: “… like [in] Hongkong, The Butchers Club Burger will guarantee the best burger in town where its bacon cheeseburgers will be made using the house’s signature dry-aged beef,” crows its press release. Before we roll our eyes and dismiss it as another more-style-than-substance Meatliquor-type eatery, we do a double take. Did someone mention dry-aged beef?
So, we drag our buns to the fortnight-old restaurant in the party central of Clarke Quay for a late dinner at 10.30pm. The great thing about this place, which had its beginnings as a butcher shop-cum-private diner in HK: its late opening hours — it closes at 4am on Fridays and Saturdays. Fab for all you hard-core clubbers-cum-burger connoisseurs.
31 Oct 2015
The Look & Vibe
It’s Saturday night; the restaurant must be infested with inebriated expats, right? Instead, the place, which looks like a cosy cross between an edgy bar and mod fast food joint with its self-service counter, is pretty chill. Only a handful of tables are filled. We excitedly gravitate towards a large chiller crammed with hunks of beef in various stages of being dry-aged. Some are bright pink, others swarthy and leathery. We don’t know any other casual restaurant in Singapore that dry-ages their burger patties in-house. This takes time and expertise. Ageing beef intensifies its flavours and gives it more character. It’s the norm in foodie American cities like New York. We park ourselves beside the open kitchen where friendly Canadian chef Matt Dick, who formerly headed the HK branch of The Butchers Club Burger, oversees the sizzling of patties.
31 Oct 2015
Meat the Men
“This fridge is not humidity-controlled,” explains Matt. “But we’ve reconfigured it to emulate one. We’re building a dry-ageing facility at our headquarters in MacPherson, which will also supply our upcoming private diner,” he adds. “Who do you get your beef from?” we ask. “From our head butcher,” he replies, pointing at a tall, buff Australian hunk named Damien Michelini. We gawk shamelessly. The wet market Ah Peks have nothing on him.
31 Oct 2015
The Taste Test
We are impressed that there is only one burger on it: The Burger ($20). A pared down, focused menu is a good sign. But then, our eyes drift towards the iPad menu at the cashier. “Secret burgers,” it proclaims not so discreetly. Headlining the list is the Double Happiness ($38), a double patty beef burger between “two cheese sammys”. We hem and haw. We’ve never really liked double cheeseburgers for its unbalanced meat-to-bun ratio — it’s like eating a giant meatball. The chirpy cashier coaxes: “there’re grilled cheese sandwiches on top and below the patties”. We relent.
Our food arrives soon after we sit down. The Burger boasts a good-sized 160g inch-thick patty, a loosely packed disc that’s roughly ground in-store. It’s draped in pale melted cheddar and a few fronds of bacon. The beef — a blend of Aussie Black Angus brisket, chuck and rump — is fairly flavourful. But it’s not the most complex-tasting aged patty we’ve had. Understandable, ’cos this is a $20 burger (NYC’s famed Minetta Tavern charges US$30 for its prime dry-aged beef black label burger).
According to the PR rep, the various cuts here are aged for periods ranging from merely a week (barely enough to make a difference) to 30 days. Still, the beef has a mild, pleasantly mellow savouriness. It’s seared till a good crust forms, but unfortunately cooked a shade past medium. So it’s tender but not very juicy.
Everything else is good though: the house-made buns soft and squishy, the maple syrup-glazed bacon sweet, salty and crisp, the cheese sharp and gooey. The towering Double Happiness burger looks sexier than it tastes. While the flat buns atop and beneath the two patties are cleverly sandwiched with cheddar and grilled like cheese toasties, they’re too doughy and crusty. And its patties are also overcooked. But because we know how hard it is to get the consistency of a good burger right when a restaurant is this new, we order another house burger for a second taste.
“How is your beef meant to be cooked?” we ask the chef. “Medium. I noticed yours was done slightly past that,” he admits. He doesn’t offer to replace ours though, so we pay for a fresh one. This time, it’s prepared perfectly — rosy in the middle, and so crumbly that the meat falls apart with each bite (owing to the slightly too-chunky mince). It’s soft and relatively moist; though it lacks the gushing succulence of Omakase Burger’s patty. The one available side dish of Duck Fat Fries ($8) is decent. The pudgy wedges are crisp and fluffy, but we couldn’t detect the signature richness of bird fat in it.
VERDICT: Not “the best burger in town”, but a pretty satisfying and lovingly made one, give or take a few consistency issues. Allow the kitchen some time to settle in before dropping by. The affable staff and long opening hours are also bonuses.
#01-01B 3A RIVER VALLEY RD, CLARKE QUAY, S179020, TEL: 6837-0675. OPEN DAILY. SUN-TUE NOON-MIDNIGHT; WED-THUR TILL 2AM; FRI-SAT TILL 4AM. LAST ORDERS 30 MINS BEFORE CLOSING. WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/BUTCHERSCLUBBURGERSG