Welcoming in the season of renewal with a chef change and a revamped menu, Maggie Joan’s has updated its menu from modern Mediterranean to modern European and Scottish Chef Seumas Smith now helms the kitchen of this amazing hidden gem in the city. Formerly head chef of Moosehead Kitchen, the 26-year-old Seumas is currently the Group Executive Chef for both brands Moosehead and Maggie Joan’s.
Seumas began his culinary journey during his teen years — he progressed very quickly in his career and has held overseas stints at Lords of the Manor and Dinner by Heston before his first tenure in Singapore at Esquina where he demonstrated his flair for contemporary European cooking.
Doing what he does best — since his new appointment as Group Executive Chef in April 2018, Seumas has spent the better part of last year fronting the kitchen at Maggie Joan’s with his inventive creations and spearheading the restaurant’s new culinary direction.
Contemporary European cuisine and culture emphasises a lot on refinement and style — which guests can now experience at Maggie Joan’s and in Chef Seumas‘ craft of imaginative dishes, all made with prime, fresh seasonal produce and exemplary cooking in a wonderful setting.
Tucked in the back-alley space of Amoy Street along Gemmill Lane, you might not notice the entrance to the restaurant and likely to walk past it. Do keep a look out for an unassuming metal door and the unmissable sign atop — you’ll find happiness in the little jewel, if you don’t give up looking!
Behind the closed door, it’ll led you to discover everything there is to love about Maggie Joan’s — the unpretentious space, cool underground vibes, excellent food and drinks, the people and of course, warm service.
Though you can opt for a la carte here, diners are encouraged to take on the short tasting menu at $90++, which features five stately courses presented by Chef Seumas. For $140++, the longer tasting menu is even more indulgent, you get three extra exquisite dishes served.
There’s nothing better than the basic bread and butter to start the meal. Maggie Joan’s bakes its own sourdough bread which features a soft, chewy texture and mellow tang flavour. Chef elevated the humble butter with trimmings of O’Conner beef that has been smoked in an INKA charcoal oven over hickory wood chips, and finished with salt and thyme.
The Housebaked Sourdough with Smoked Beef Fat Butter ($5) is not served complimentary on the tasting menu, but for the superb quality of the bread and butter, I wouldn’t mind a second helping.
The Shiso Tempura with whipped Mentaiko, nori & lime and Bonito Rice Cracker with Ikura, dill & creme fraiche are enjoyed as a prelude to the main event — available as part of the tasting menu and also ala carte for $3 a piece.
The former features the lively Shiso herb lightly fried in tempura batter, finished with nori and lime zest, then dotted with Mentaiko’ sort of a Taramosalata recipe for a depth of flavours; Chef Seumas’ renditon of the Greek maze is housemade with garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and sourdough bread.
The latter is Chef Seumas’s take on Senbei (Japanese rice cracker), which requires a great deal of time to prepare the rice cracker by cooking bonito flakes with Thai Jasmine rice until it turns soft and starchy, then spread flat and dehydrated for four hours before deep frying. A sprinkle of yuzu Shichimi, dill, creme fraiche and Ikura lightly marinated in soy and marin brings out the umami flavours of the satisfying treat.
Another surprise treat (only available in the tasting menu) to further excite your palates before the entrees are served. Rich, creamy Foie Gras Ganache with pistachio apple caramel and feuilles de brick pastry, topped with frozen green granny smith apples shavings will delight every foie gras lover. I’m not a huge fan of foie gras, but became more on that later and was pleasantly surprised with this new way to enjoy the delicacy.
For entrees in the tasting menu, you will not find one but three delightful creations from the land and sea. Starting with Hamachi crudo, almond, trout roe and edamame ($20 a la carte), a light and elegant fish dish that showcases a play in colours and textures. The delicious plate of art consists fine ingredients like sliced Japanese hamachi, pickled wakame, lightly blanched Japanese edamame, soy-mirin marinated trout roes, and a housemade almond sauce to help undercut the richness of oil from the fatty fish.
Next, a veggie-friendly dish; Beetroot, smoked creme fraiche, walnuts & burnt honey ($18 a la carte) features the Australian beetroot prepared in two ways – barbecued and pickled, accompanied with INKA oven smoked crème fraiche, fresh pomegranate, crunchy candied walnuts, red elk and drizzled with burnt heather honey sourced from the pristine wilderness of Scottish highlands and produced by the Prince Charles’ Mey Selections. It is quite uncommon to see a purple vegetable entree in the restaurant menu, and it’s amazing how Chef Seumas made the most of beetroot and presented its versatility — a job very well done!
Last entree on the tasting menu, Hokkaido scallop, miso beurre blanc, dulse & potato ($24 a la carte). Large, plump and juicy scallops are in the season, chef gets them fresh out of their shells and pan fried to medium rare with miso beurre blanc (butter sauce) and dulse seaweed, sea lettuce and chives are added a la minute. Australian Russet potato croutons undergo a tedious process of peeling, cutting, blanching, cooling and double frying to give a fluffy interior and super crispy external texture. The brilliant Hokkaido scallop is then topped off with a generous dollop of Kristal caviar for a polished finish — I can’t get enough of this smashing dish!
Moving on to the main courses, which is carved from its a la carte menu and portioned for tasting was not miserly in size and quality. The Duck breast, radicchio, apricot, date & olive oil puree ($36 a la carte) accompanied with roasted Cameron Highlands carrots confit in parsley brown butter, housemade ricotta, rosemary, thyme, apricot puree, pinenuts and black sesame seeds were simply exquisite and outstanding. The duck breast was succulent, not to mention flavourful and boasts a nice crisp skin which absorbs the duck jus and intensifies the flavours in the dish.
A fantastic tasting fish; the Barramundi, chicken jus, smoked herring roe & broccoli ($36 a la carte) despite looking excessively green; it has enough flavours to make you want order the full portion. The delicate barramundi is pan seared with skin off, then finished in the oven. Crispy sourdough breadcrumbs tossed in rendered chicken fat, parsley, tarragon, and lemon zest are added to form the crust of the fish. Served with crisp French ice lettuce, broccoli puree, and chicken jus mixed with Spanish smoked herring roe and parsley oil for another dimension of flavour and colour.
A noteworthy dish from the grill section; Short rib, chanterelles, cauliflower & salsify ($44 a la carte) is a bitsy version of a steakhouse delight with smokey grill flavours and bites of tender goodness. The O’Connor beef short rib is complemented with sauteed chanterelle mushroom, roasted chestnuts, salsify vegetable, caramelised cauliflower pureee and confit French Roscoff onions.
To sweeten things up, guests opting for the tasting menu will get to enjoy two to three desserts, depending on the choice of course. A pre-dessert of Amalfi lemon sorbet and blood orange granita is served as a palate cleanser, but makes a great after-meal as well. It’s perfectly sweet, tangy and refreshing, all together!
Blackberries, meringue and yoghurt sorbet ($12 a la carte) — I’ve never really warmed to the idea of eating meringue in desserts, as it is normally too sweet for my liking. Greatly to my surprise, the Meringue shell wasn’t cloying and tasted even better with the combination of yoghurt sorbet, blackberry yoghurt, fresh blackberries, blackberry purée and green shiso. This magical dessert in some way changed my perspective on meringue and I shall erase every past meringue dessert of disappointment.
Chocolate, passion fruit gel and milk ice cream ($12 a la carte) — A chocolatey delight for the chocolate lovers. The stunning dessert yields a bavarois with a dark colour and intense chocolate taste resulted from the use of 55% Valrhona Equatoriale chocolate. The rich and creamy Bavarian is topped with housemade cow milk ice cream and decorated with the sweet notes of passionfruit puree and subtle crunch of chocolate biscuit base. This indulgent dessert has the perfect balance of tart and sweet, but I would feel more inclined to eating chocolates with higher cocoa contents.
Petit Fours: Rapsberry chocolate praline, Salted caramel sable — One variety is served complimentary to every guest who orders the set lunch or a la carte menu, while two varieties will be offered in the tasting menu.
Maggie Joan’s offers its tasting menu for both lunch and dinner, crafted using seasonal ingredients sourced from small and artisanal producers. Tuck into 5-course or 8-course of contemporary European flair and finesse, while sipping on your favourite classic cocktail. Wine pairing is available upon request.
My recommendation? Go for 8-course tasting menu for a long haul of the restaurant’s best dishes. At $140++, it’s remarkably good value for serving up top-notch dishes made with the season’s best ingredients. It’s better to go big or go home!
Location: 110 Amoy Street, #01-01, Singapore 069930
Tel: +65 6221 5564
Opening Hours: Mon to Fri 12pm to 2.30pm & 6pm to 11pm, Sat 6pm to 11pm, Closed on Sun