Tucked away in a smaller less crowded corner of Dempsey, with an antiques shop as its neighbour, is Roadhouse. A casual American diner that dishes out Josper-grilled meats and burgers, it's another F&B establishment by the acclaimed Privé Group that is behind restaurants like the popular Privé Café at Keppel Bay.
Prestige aside, I've never heard of Roadhouse till I came across word of their 'Terminator Challenge'. To finish a 1kg burger in 20 minutes, with a huge serving of fries and coleslaw, in a short 20 minutes - sounds way too impossible. Still we decided to give it a shot a year back (and that's a story for another time); and found out that Roadhouse makes pretty great burgers.
Fast forward to year later when we were craving burgers, we recalled Roadhouse and their great wagyu beef patties. Thus a trip to Dempsey, off we set.
Hot Cheesy Fries ($10++)
I've always felt that high expectations set the stage for higher potential disappointment - as was the case with Roadhouse. The fries arrived piping hot, beautifully golden and well seasoned; which is not to be overlooked cause you'd be surprised at how many restaurants fumble on their fries. In stark contrast the accompanying cheese and beef chili were utterly awful. The cheese was watery and absolutely tasteless. The chili had an inch of oil above it, and when dipped into made me realise that the oil made up most of it. I could barely stick an inch of my fry into the meaty portion of their chili. To say that Roadhouse's cheesy fries is even half the standard of KFC's is a major overstatement.
Juicy Lucy Burger ($24++) - red sharp cheddar-stuffed patty, tomatoes, pickles, lettuce; extra patty at ($10++)
Dry, overcooked, ridden with specks of rubbery solid fat, was not how I remembered Roadhouse's wagyu beef patties. The patties were not well seasoned, and had a very strong unwelcomed scent. To put it tactlessly, it was not only fairly tasteless, the meat stank. It was the worst burger I've ever had; even McDonalds' Big Mac would've rocked over this. I would firmly say that this is the worst burger I've ever eaten.
When I was ordering an extra patty, I asked if ity would too be stuffed with red sharp cheddar. I was told yes, but obviously it came otherwise. And when I asked for sunny side eggs to be added, I meant for them to be added into my burger, and not served on the side on a separate plate.
Pulled Pork Burger ($22++) - 170g shredded pork, housemade BBQ sauce, sliced onions, jalapeno
This was the best burger out of the 3 we tried - and it wasn't great, just edible. But honestly if a restaurant can screw up a sauce ridden dish they ought to be shut down. Pork was tender enough, flavourful, but the BBQ sauce was overly sweet and one-dimensional. Delicious at the first bites, jelak after half a burger.
The downside here was the coleslaw. Which had a fly in it.
It was only after we left the restaurant did I realise Roadhouse had an ongoing truffle fries promotion, where any burger/sandwich order would be accompanied by free flow of truffle fries. Unfortunately we were also not informed about the promotion, and thus had a very sad truffle-fry-less meal.
Christmas Burger ($24++) - your choice of a grilled turkey patty/wagyu beef patty, caramelised onions, brie, chestnut pesto, radicchio, cranberry jam, toasted sesame bun, served with cheesy potato bites
A commendable effort, the flavour profile of this burger was pretty good. The cranberry sauce and caramelised onions juxtaposed really well with the slice of brie and pesto. The thing with turkey patties however, is that they have the tendency to get really dry. Our table had 2 orders of this burger, of which one had a juicy patty and the other had a dry one. Inconsistency across meals is unacceptable - much less during a single seating.
But my biggest issue has to be the extra patty again. Our order of an extra turkey patty was served separately, on the side, between 2 new burger buns. The problem boiled down to having 2 of the 3 service staff that shift being Chinese nationals. Why a restaurant - especially an American diner - would hire people who cannot speak or understand English is simply beyond me.
Chicken & Mushroom Spaghetti Aglio Olio ($18++) - roasted garlic, chipotle peppers, forest mushrooms, parmesan
It says something for an American diner to have its best dish be their pasta. Decently cooked spaghetti, topped generously with sauteéd shrooms, fragrant garlic, and tossed in chili oil, Roadhouse makes one of the few aglio olios I'd say nailed the spice level. With just the right amount of kick, this pasta was absolutely delicious. A little less oily would have made it the perfect aglio olio.
With a great prior experience, I never imagined the latest dining experience to be one of the worst ever. From service staff who, to their credit were attentive but, could not understand our orders and requests, to horribly prepared food and possibly lousy ingredients, Roadhouse's performance was astoundingly horrible. It may be a one-off for the restaurant, but to have any form of inconsistency does not bode well for any restaurant. Roadhouse may very well still receive great reviews, but after this recent visit I don't know if I'd ever return.
13 Dempsey Road #01-07
Mondays to Fridays: 11.30am-3.30pm; 6.30pm-11pm
Saturdays & Sundays: 9am-11pm (Brunch ends at 5pm)