Created by the same father-and-son team behind Moosehead – Glen and Daniel Ballis – Maggie Joan’s hollers “underground” from the word go.
This new restaurant occupies an old shophouse in the warren behind Amoy Street, with its front door opening to a backlane off a backlane. The entrance is through an iron door cut into a whitewashed wall that is blank except for a 2-D cutout spelling ‘Maggie Joan’s’ in the same anonymous steel as the door. Potted olive trees line the sides; the feel is of the backstreet tavernas and trattorias of the Mediterranean much ‘in the know’.
Step through the door into Maggie Joan’s, and you’re greeted by a fusion of industrial chic and stylized domesticity. The architecture reminds one of a bunker -- ‘underground’ in every sense of the word. But it’s a beautiful bunker; make no mistake.
Distinct ‘pockets’ of space have been styled to different characters: with the most ‘raw’ at the immediate entrance. The walls are stripped brickwork: rough and scarred, ruddy and grey in patches. The ceiling is beamed; the floor cemented; and the stretched wooden banquettes lining the walls resemble church pews. Functional track lights beam overhead and the feel is edgy and rugged. This 40-seat dining hall, the most expansive floor in the restaurant, is anchored by the floodlit open kitchen and bar, white-tiled, bustling, and ‘caged’ with wire fence.
Proceed to the narrower middle section, defined by three large hanging steel lamps looking like abandoned hollowed-out drums from a rock band. Golden light spews from the drums’ burnished interiors; and throw cushions soften the banquettes. A 4-person table – the only round table in the house – sits next to the kitchen, luxuriating under its own elegant crystal chandelier. The layout of the restaurant seems to have come about organically, the spaces becoming more intimate and ‘feminine’ as they flow inward.
Lastly, we come to the private dining room - the most distinctive in atmosphere, and styled like a traditional Mediterranean parlour. Furnished with 3 exquisite crystal chandeliers; plush elegant upholstery; and mirrors and patterned tile flooring, it is almost ornate in comparison with the rest of the restaurant, and redolent of the 2 namesake grandmothers. Potted plants decorate the parlour, as they do on shelves or on the floor throughout the restaurant: flashes of vivid green punctuating the industrial textures and colours.
With friend and co-owner Darren Micallef, the Ballis’ have put together a concept unique in Singapore: a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant with a strong underground vibe, serving an energetic, contemporary Mediterranean cuisine built on unremitting artisanship.
It begins with putting heart, mind, and creative soul into the process and making as many ingredients as possible from scratch “exactly like Grandma would”. It continues with using the freshest seasonal produce, crafting intensity and balance, and creating a menu rooted in the familiar flavoursof the Mediterranean, but innovatively ‘interpreted’. Head Chef Oliver Hyde, formerly of Pollen, helms the Maggie Joan’s kitchen and is dedicated to ensuring that the table becomes an occasion for bonding and a manifestation of the Mediterranean way of being and loving.
Haite has opened its first Aviation Training Centre outside of China, which is also the first major investment by a Chinese aerospace company in Singapore.
The new facility is more than 7,000sqm, and is located in the Changi Business Park. Haite has established a training base for pilots and related aviation crew, for various types of Boeing and Airbus aircrafts widely used in China and the Southeast Asia region.
The Singapore Training Center offers training on an initial set of two, 7000 Series Full Flight Simulators: B737NG and A320 plus Integrated Procedures Trainer. Five more simulators will follow thereafter. The facility spans over 21,000 sqm. on 6 stories and includes rooftop conference/dining room, rest area for special events, as well as ample underground parking.
The latest edition to the Keong Saik district is an urban Izakaya, Neon Pigeon.
Inspired by the world of flavours found in the hidden spots of Tokyo and the underground culture of buzzling cities like New York and Hong Kong, the establishment is a vibrant social house offering great value for money and the soul of a Japanese Izakaya with a punch of urban grit.
With a selection of starters (appropriately named ‘Bird Feed’), soups, greens, seafood and meats, Japanese snacks are given a modern and in-house twist at Neon Pigeon. The Izakaya-style menu, designed for tastings, serves up dishes in ‘small’ or ‘large’ portions and you are recommended to order six to eight small dishes to share between two people.
A look at the menu and you will notice the heavy use of classic, no-frills Japanese flavours in the condiments and among the assortment of "Bird Feed", is a cold dish of Chilled Cucumber with home-mixed crushed chilli peanuts, nori (seaweed) and goma (sesame), as well as the Tsukune Sliders, an east-meets-west combo of a Japanese meatball patty and a western slider bun, coupled with pickled kyuri (Japanese cucumber) and tare (soy basting sauce) aioli.
Keeping up with the fun-sharing concept, Neon Pigeon also offers a large format dining option of Barbecued Pork Shoulder for groups of four to six. With a two-day advance order required, the hearty fare of pork shoulder is slow-cooked for 20 hours and served in a black pepper teriyaki glaze, with a ginger scallion dipping sauce, bibb lettuce wraps, steamed buns, a spring onion salad, onigiri rice cake, kimchi and pickles to complement.
Also an integral part of the concept’s underground vibe is the Neon Pigeon bar. The bar’s Japanese-inspired drinks list includes a selection of Japanese beers and whiskeys, each a representative of different prefectures, as well as a curated list of spirits and Japanese inspired speciality cocktails. These include Throw A Kyuri-Ken, a vodka-based cocktail with a refreshing touch of lemon juice, yuzu and cucumber, as well as Harajuku Girl, a mix of gin, shiso leaf, and plum bitters.
The bar also houses a selection of sake of varying fragrances and complexity, including a range of Junmai, Daiginjo, Ginjo and Honjozo sakes, that were all hand-picked from sake distilleries across Japan to complement the dishes offered at Neon Pigeon.
Specially designed by US-based EDG Interior Architecture + Design, the Neon Pigeon space at The Working Capitol building on Keong Saik is built to own the vibe of a hidden spot off the main street only known to the locals, as a veiled corner of an urban metropolis. The exterior shows only a fluorescent pink pigeon, lit when in business, while the interior is paved with raw elements of steel and bricks that are softened with sophisticatedly designed wood finishing, giving the social hangout an urban grit with comfort and familiarity – an atmosphere reminiscent of Shibuya district in Tokyo or East Village in New York. A semi-open concept kitchen is also featured, with the action in the kitchen open for a close-up view.
A final and crucial touch to the space is the loud graffiti work plastered on the walls of the interior that gives the restaurant a touch of the underground New York City vibe. The team had specially commissioned local visual artist, ZERO to create these murals.