The Place Think underground restaurant and Maggie Joan’s comes to my mind. It has been two years since the Mediterranean restaurant opened its doors (run by the same team behind the nearby Moosehead), though technically speaking we are talking about a nondescript backdoor along Gemmill Lane. I returned recently to Maggie Joan’s to try some of its new dishes, a timely launch in my opinion to commemorate its two years stint. While the vibe remains the same old vibrant ambience with a tinge of mystical aura, the sole private room spots a new wooden table which fits eight to ten diners.
The Food Expect the same modern Mediterranean cuisine, with options from the ala carte menu or the Sharing Set Menu (S$78++ per person) where you get to try up to ten dishes. We started with the Taramasalata, Squid ink and Nori (S$3/piece), an Oreo-like starter which was delicious. The Taramasalata is blended with mentaiko, egg yolk, mustard, lemon juice, garlic and emulsified, which gave it a very creamy texture. I am saying one piece ain’t enough. Another must try starter here is the Crab sandwich and green harissa (S$7/piece). The crabmeat filling is fairly generous, while the harissa element further spiced up the flavours a little to whet the appetite.
For something exotic to start, the Chicken liver, rhubarb, cocoa and peanut (S$17) is one of those dishes with an acquired flavour. The texture is somewhat like foie gras, though this version is unique in the sense that it is topped with a layer of cocoa soil to balance the chicken liver parfait. The dish comes with toasted bread where you can spread it over, and the overall flavour is a cross between sweet and savoury.
This dish is interesting. I am usually cautious of ordering beef tartare because of the overly raw flavour, but this plate of Beef tartare, kimchi and smoked beef fat (S$19) managed to twist my initial conviction around.
On to mains, I enjoyed the Roasted barramundi, artichokes, seaweed & charred red pepper sauce (S$34). The fresh flavour of the Australian barramundi was evident, and the texture was just right while retaining its crispy layer of skin. Go generous with the red pepper sauce.
Alternatively, try the Smoked potato & egg yolk raviolo, pickled girroles & hazelnuts (S$28). The handmade pasta is filled with ricotta, mashed potato and egg yolk, served with baby spinach, pickled girrole mushrooms and roasted hazelnuts in a brown butter sauce. It is an interesting twist to raviolo for me, especially with elements like ricotta, egg yolk and the crunchy hazelnuts.
For desserts, the Goats’ cheese parfait, honeycomb, raspberry & sorrel (S$12) is interesting though I am personally not a fan of goat’s cheese. That said, it wasn’t too pungent for me, just that I would choose to have the “Paris-Brest” Chocolate, praline, pear & thyme (S$16) anytime. The 65% dark chocolate works very well for me, and with me being a hazelnut fan and praline fanatic, this dessert is simply divine.
Available only on the Sharing Set Menu, the Coconut sorbet and rock melon ice is another kind of happy ending. The house made coconut sorbet was refreshing at the end of our meal, but the real surprise here is the crunchy bits of the rock melon ice.
Rants The space is not huge, and there is only one private room at the back of the restaurant to accommodate a big group of up to 10 diners.
Will I Return Again? It is difficult to still feel impress by a restaurant after the first visit. Despite my visit after a hectic day at work, I was all satisfied by the food I had. It surprised me on a few counts, from the starters to the happy ending after the desserts. It is an underground rendezvous spot which I will be back for.
Make your reservation instantly at Maggie Joan’s here.
This was an invited tasting, though all opinions expressed are our own.
Taste bud: 4/5
Hole in the pocket: 4/5
Overall Experience: 4/5
Monday to Friday: 12pm to 3pm
Monday to Saturday: 6pm till late
Ranted by The Ranter