When I first made the booking for Maggie Joan’s, I knew absolutely nothing about the restaurant. There weren’t many reviews about the place and the only tidbit I could find was that the restaurant was named after the owners’ grandmothers. The only thing going for it was the location which was in the convenient area of Amoy Street and it served European food/tapas sharing plates – which is always a good thing when you’re meeting up in groups.
One thing to note is that despite its Amoy Street address, the entrance to the restaurant is actually located on Gemmill Lane, which is behind Amoy Street. Not the most obvious entrance, but it works. I had a LOL moment when W pulled upon the door and the first thing I saw was one of the staff standing in a dimly lit corner looking to see who was trying to enter his establishment. At that moment, I had a brief vision of myself entering an underground mysterious members only club (double LOL).
In any case, once you really step inside, it becomes really clear – it is a restaurant and a pretty busy one at that. It seems really really popular with expats/foreigners.
The restaurant just has a one page menu which meant that as a group of 6, we were able to try a good number of their dishes in one evening.
We ordered a few plates of ‘snacks’ from the menu. I arrived a little late, hence I missed taking photos of two snack plates – garlic and rosemary bread with hummus ($6), and deep fried egg rolled in dukha and served with a saffron mayo ($6). I tried the deep fried egg and was of the impression that it probably would have tasted better if eaten straight off the fryer (I had it after it had been sitting for quite a while on the plate). M thought the dish was pretty underwhelming and not that memorable, which was interesting since some reviewers have written specifically about this dish.
The one snack which the girls liked very much was the squid ink cracker served with taramasalata ($8). We liked it so much we actually got two portions of it. I must say that it was the first time I had heard of a squid ink cracker – the cracker does remind you of some scary coral plucked from the sea. The taramasalata was really delicious and was the highlight of the dish for me.
We then moved on to the starters:
Heirloom tomatoes with plum and burrata ($21)
W: “I don’t think these are heirloom tomatoes. They don’t taste like them”
Honestly, I wouldn’t know the difference. All tomatoes taste the same to me. I’m still divided on the pairing of tomatoes with plum, even though I know that tomatoes are a fruit…
Chicken liver, pickled mushrooms, peas and toast ($19). I quite liked this dish. The chicken liver was really smooth and did not have that bitter aftertaste that I usually associate liver with. There was a bit of a hoo ha with the bread, since there were 6 of us and we had wanted a few more slices of bread (than what was originally served) so that we could polish off the liver. However, for some reason, the servers were not able to do that since they could not key in a separate order for bread on their ordering machine. That sparked off a load of jokes the next time we were served a dish with bread/toast/breadcrumbs. Oh well…
Hokkaido scallop tartare, seaweed, apple and finger lime ($21). This dish didn’t really work for me and felt a little underwhelming. The presentation of the scallops was a little curious, since it appeared to be ‘buried’ under all the greens and I had to check the menu again to figure out what this dish actually was.
Mains – We ordered two mains to share. The first was a slow braised lamb shoulder with harissa and pecorino ($31). I thought the lamb was cooked very well and was very delicious.
I also enjoyed our second main which was the grilled Iberico pork secreto with prunes and cauliflower ($36). It was really tender (due to the secreto cut) and really delicious. I kept going back for seconds whenever the plate was placed in front of me.
Maggie Joan’s also has sharing plates and the girls ordered the mediterranean octopus, served with a tomato and bread salad ($80) (cue bread jokes). We were pretty amazed when the plates was served to us – it was a really huge tentacle.
In our cab ride to Maggie Joan’s, W and I had been discussing the merits of serving octopus since it is a very tricky dish to cook and so easily overcooked. There’s really no in-between and you either get it right or not. The texture of the octopus meat should be soft and not chewy/rubbery. The octopus that was served to us was cooked pretty well and I enjoyed it very much. M however, felt that while Maggie Joan’s version was good, the best octopus she’s had was still at Blu Kouzina.
We also had had some sides to share: Grilled cauliflower and pomegranate dressing ($9) and roasted carrots with whipped feta, maple and almonds ($9).
Some hits and misses, but overall we had a really enjoyable experience at Maggie Joan’s. Service was really good; the waiters were all very responsive and attentive. The restaurant also has a pretty good cocktail menu and wine selection. I tried their rosemary gin and tonic and found it to be pretty good – could really taste the gin in there. We also enjoyed a bottle of their white wine which was really nice as well. For the amount of the dishes and drinks that we had, the bill came to approx $90 per person.
Add: 110 Amoy St