Caught wind of the new Ember Charcoal Grill at Blk 332 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1 — this neighbourhood steakhouse that focuses on charcoal-grilled meats takes over the former premises of the now-defunct The Workbench Bistro; also located just right beside a coffeeshop named Johnson Eatery within the same block. While we hadn’t visited The Workbench Bistro when they were still occupying the space, the interior of Ember Charcoal Grill is fairly reminiscent of cafes situated in the heartlands circa 2014 to 2015 — a little of an industrial vibe going on here that is a slightly dated when compared to the more minimalistic cafes with a touch of greenery and a contemporary design of the late. Serving two separate menus for lunch and dinner service, Ember Charcoal Grill serves up Donburi for its weekday lunch service, while dinner service stays the same on both weekday and weekends and primarily features charcoal-grilled meats served with different sauces — the same starters are available for both weekday lunch and dinner service. In addition, Ember Charcoal Grill also serves a “Scrumptious Brunch” menu on weekends from 10am to 5pm featuring typical brunch dishes; think items like the Carpresse Avocado Toast, Breakfast Cereal French Toast and Egg Benedict upon others — desserts served include several variations of waffles and croffles, as well as ice-creams, whilst beverages available here includes specialty coffee, tea in a pot, spritzer, Yakult soda, soft drinks and bottled beers.

It would be a little silly to drop by a spot specialising in charcoal grill without going for their steak. Offering various cuts of beef including the flank cut and the flat iron, we found ourselves going for the Silverfern Grass-Fed Striploin, which also comes with elements such as Shoestring Fries, Vine Tomato and Confit Garlic. Patrons can choose between a variety of sauces for the charcoal-grilled beef here; we found ourselves opting for the Jim Beam Honey Mustard to go with our order instead. Opting for medium-rare doneness for the beef, the striploin here was done with a pinkish centre — overall, the meat was pretty well-executed; not particularly gamey, and didn’t require much of an effort to chew being tender and sufficiently moist. It was also slightly flavoured by just a light sprinkle of salt that antes up the flavour profile of the beef. One could also opt to have the beef with the confit garlic as well for a punchier note. The Jim Beam Honey Mustard came with mustard seeds; didn’t feel that the booziness of the Jim Beam was particularly prominent — perhaps an attempt to keep things a little “PG” considering how there may be families bringing their kids here. Whilst the shoestring fries did look a tad plain, we liked how they were seasoned with sufficient salt for a bit of flavour — all that whilst being crisp without being particularly greasy. One thing we found really interesting with the dish was the vine tomato; choosing to serve a single tomato that is oddly dusted in icing sugar, the icing sugar did seem a little out of place in the beginning — the aesthetics somewhat reminding us of Christmas, but we found that zingy note of the tomato really go well with that slight hint of sugary sweetness just like what salt does to beef to create a unique experience.

Truth to be told, Ember Charcoal Grill did surpass our expectations — we were not really expecting much from a neighbourhood setup like this, but it was interesting to see how they are pretty creative with their menu here from the items we had, which includes the Charred Bourbon Chicken Wings and Creme Brulee Waffle as well; both being items that are served at a respectable quality for its price. No doubt the prices of the food at Ember Charcoal Grill are a little steep especially for dinner — the charcoal-grilled meats ranges from $16.90 for the Blue Ginger Roasted Boneless Chicken Leg to $25.90 for the Silverfern Grass-Fed Striploin, but they do deliver where one would be able to enjoy somewhat of a more premium western offering than what one would expect out of commercial outfits and western food stalls within coffeeshops and hawker centres. Personally, we do feel that Ember Charcoal Grill is a spot we would not mind checking out if we are residents in the neighbourhood, or even in areas that are slightly further away from the neighbourhood where they are situated — a pretty decent spot for chops and steaks conveniently situated within the heartlands.

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