This blog post is a few months late mainly because I’ve not found time to visit three year-old Maggie Joan’s, which welcomed Seumas Smith as group executive chef since April this year.
The native of Scotland was formerly head chef of Maggie Joan’s stable mate, Moosehead, before he took on this expanded portfolio of leading both Moosehead and Maggie Joan’s. Now based in the latter , the alum of Lords of the Manor and Dinner by Heston came to Singapore in 2015 to join Esquina as sous chef and since his debut here, the Mediterranean-inspired menu at Maggie Joan’s has taken on a modern European persona. And in time to come, we will see more ingredients from the United Kingdom courtesy of Smith.
While Maggie Joan’s has always offered an a la carte menu, Smith recently introduced a pair of affordable Chef’s Selection tasting menus at dinner priced at $88++ for five courses and $118++ for seven courses.
From the seven-course dinner tasting menu, there are no lack of plates of distinction, amongst them a tempura of shiso leaf delicately fried to yield a light crunch, then dusted with nori powder and lime zest. To lend it depth of flavour, Smith dots the leaf with smidgens of taramasalata, a Greek meze of mentaiko with lemon juice, garlic and sour dough, so that you get the richness of flavour and almost none of the cloy.
The Hokkaido scallop, another standout, is pan-fried to medium doneness so that when it arrives at the table on a shell, completely enveloped in a warm and creamy bath of miso beurre blanc sauce, the bivalve is springy rather than chewy. Just so to intensify its umami, dulse seaweed, sea lettuce and chives are added a la minute.
For mains, you get both a fish and a red meat. While both pass muster, it’s worthwhile highlighting the pan seared local barramundi mainly because it arrives with morsels of plump and moist rope-grown Scottish mussels (it’s no exaggeration to say that these mussels rival the French bouchot varietal). Although the fish is a little dry, the nage broth with cream and white wine dotted with parsley oil serves to lubricate the palate and really, those lightly-salted and crisp leaves of cavelo nero do not hurt.
I am usually quite happy to pass on desserts, but I would have been peeved to pass on this airy mound of marscapone foam blanketing earl grey poached Williams pear and a scoop of heather honey ice cream. A hint of acidity would have been great but I’m not complaining about the added textures of the pistachio crumbs and feulletine.
If Cheek By Jowl has one of Singapore’s best value-for-money tasting menus, I am pleased to share that it now has company in Maggie Joan’s.