On Friday night with the in-laws back in town, we took them to one of our favourite spots in Singapore. Maggie Joan’s only opened in September last year and it rapidly became THE hot restaurant to try. Since then it seems to have maintained its popularity; consistently busy and bustling every evening that I have been past, and with a new little wine bar from the same team adjoined to it next door, Gemmills. And in our opinion, quite rightly so, it’s a wonderful little place.
It helps that Maggie Joan’s is located just off the busy Club Street right in the heart of the city. Very conveniently placed for us to pop for a quick post work drink at one of the numerous bars around, and then in for dinner.
The first time you visit it’s not obviously found. A single hidden wooden door at the very end of Gemmill lane, with just a small wooden sign above the entrance. When you go inside, you’re greeted by a long dark and narrow room, with no windows and rustic decor. Admittedly this doesn’t sound very appealing, but it’s absolutely part of its charm. It feels cosy, intimate, full of buzz and atmosphere, with the eye drawn to the kitchen at the back which is the most brightly lit part of the room. Tables along the side look in on the action. You immediately feel comfortable, which is of course the idea, the name Maggie Joan’s being the owners 2 grandmothers, who used to fill their homes with friends and family, love and home cooking.
The food is described as Mediterranean and it does pull in various elements of Western food and techniques. But the draw for me is the quality of ingredients, lovingly treated and bursting with flavour. The first time we went, we shared a couple of starters then each had a main course. All delicious. This time the 4 of us opted for the fixed dinner menu. A 6 course feast of 10 dishes, which we shared in pairs. Not only was the food equally as brilliant as on our first visit, we were amazed by the value of this, at SG$70++ per person.
First to come out were the ‘snacks’. Crispy delicate nori seaweed crackers, which we dipped into creamy taramasalata, not too fishy.A beautiful deep fried egg, coated in dukka herbs and spices and still oozing in the centre, with a dab of saffron mayo. And chewy home baked sourdough bread still warm from the oven, used to soak up the egg yolk or dipped into smoked beef fat butter, naughty but very nice.A great way to kick off proceedings as we sipped on chilled glasses of Pinot Grigio.
Next up were the starters. A stunningly beautiful sashimi dish; raw Hamachi, almost like a ceviche with pickled tomato and basil. It was light and delicious.
Contrasting was the deep earthy rich and creamy Jerusalem artichokes with Manchego cream, rosemary and rounds of crisp artichoke on top.
Then came the fish dish. A perfectly cooked piece of salmon which melted in the mouth, with a light salad of pear and fennel. A brief pause and then came the main dish, the lamb. It was tender pieces of slow cooked shoulder, served with a sweet onion date jam, perfectly set off by tangy pieces of goats cheese, alongside a smooth aubergine puree. The simple side salad which it came with was one of the tastiest I have eaten; I want the recipe for the dressing which transformed the simple leaves with its sharp salty glossy finish.
The pre-dessert was fresh and sweet. The watermelon was ‘burnt’, which added
an amazing dimension to what I find to be otherwise a pretty watery tasteless fruit, with strawberries, mint and shards of meringue.
The final dessert really ended the meal with a bang. We were presented with a beautiful dish of broken rounds of iced coffee parfait coated in crisp chocolate shells. Salted peanuts had been ground into a rough dust adding an amazing salty sweet crunch. To be honest the bergamot quoted on the menu got a bit lost, but it wasn’t needed, the chocolate coffee peanut caramel flavours were enough.
We left the cosy dark little space full and happy, and with Maggie Joan’s firmly remaining towards the top of our list of favourite Singapore eateries.
Maggie Joan’s, 110 Amoy Street, 01-01 (entrance through Gemmill Lane)