You know a restaurant has just conducted a media tasting when, in the course of research about a place, ten thousand blog posts turn up showcasing exactly the same dishes. And not one of them bothers to disclaim it with a note about being invited. I could say much more about the need for being transparent, but I shall stop here.
A great love for mediterranean food led to Maggie Joan’s being the venue for the first of birthday dinners. It’s incredibly nondescript and hard to find, with dark, grungy interiors, almost like the undergound sister of the (now-closed) Fordham & Grand.
To start, we shared a fragrant, crisp garlic and rosemary bread, accompanied by a silky smooth hummus, which was a star though it overpowered the flavours of the bread. Jerusalem artichokes followed, with a texture of just undercooked spuds, yet without the heavy woodiness that root vegetables often have. This was nicely paired with a sesame and manchego dressing.
I really liked the scallops, to be eaten with breadcrumbs and crumbled ham, peas, pea puree and mint. The clean sharpness of the mint leaves cut through any potential metallic undertones of the scallops, and bursts of sweet peas and what I think were cubes of pear provided a great mouthful of complementary flavours.
Turns out that the singular form of ravioli is “raviolo”. One large UFO-shaped disc of pasta, filled with smoked potatoes and egg, was just alright, perfectly cooked and made with just the right thickness, but which flavour-wise was nothing to shout about. A comforting, tummy-filling dish.
This iberico pork dish though, was the true star, and won praises all around the table. It really gives meat behind the claim that the chef running Maggie Joan’s’ kitchen, Oliver Hyde, is of Pollen pedigree. Tender pork bursts with sweet, smoky flavour, well complemented by prunes and cauliflower puree. Thoroughly delicious, especially with the side of sweet roasted carrots and whipped feta we ordered.
MJ has a small, compact menu that does a good job of showcasing a myriad of flavour and texture pairings, though not quite adventurous enough to make it worth the rather high pricing. The tableware is beautiful, however, rustic clay-fired pieces. While there are some gems, it’s certainly no Ottolenghi yet, only noticeable echoes of his influence…perhaps, in time, MJ will grow into it’s own.
110 Amoy Street
#01-01 Singapore 069930
Enter from the back door at the end of Gemmill Lane
Mon-Fri: 12-2:30pm, 6-11pm; Sat: 6-11pm