Dinner @ Alati

August 2, 2016 in Greek, Mediterranean by thywhaleliciousfay

Another favourite way of mine to know about ‘unheard of eateries’ (which may not necessarily be new) is spotting them on foot or while gazing out of moving vehicles. You know, like when I am on the bus. =p

My friends and I were making our way to our place of dinner when we walked past Alati. And what caught my attention was how crowded the restaurant was at 9pm. I immediately took out my mobile phone and did a quick search on Google.

I haven’t tried Greek cuisine before. And since Greece is one of the destinations I wish to go to, I made a pact to check out Alati. Since it’s not anytime soon that I’ll be travelling to Greece, I might as well satisfy myself with some Greek food at Alati. Haha.

And the opportunity came (shortly) when a girlfriend was back from Australia and initiated a dinner get-together. Yeah! Reservation was thus made for 3 people via Chope for dinner on Saturday.

And from the menu (pages 1, 2, 3), we ordered:-

1) Bread, Complimentary (above) – And I enjoyed my bread very much with the sun-dried tomato mayonnaise.

2) Melitzanosalata, $16 (+ $4, 1 piece pita) (above) – Smoked eggplants with walnuts. What we didn’t expect was that the dip was a cold dish. But it was strangely addictive. Probably because we were trying to put a finger on the taste?

3) Spanakopitta, $18 (above) – Home-made phyllo pastry pie with spinach, leeks and feta. This was pretty good. Accompanied with dill-yogurt sauce.

4) Xtapodi, $36 (above) – Octopus with vinegared onions and confit tomatoes.

5) Grilled fish (+ $10, salt baked) (above) – One could choose between grilled or salt baked (at additional $10). And it’s read from the menu that their fishes are wild-caught from the Aegan sea and flown directly to the restaurant at least thrice weekly. Fishes offered were lavraki (sea bass), tsipoura (sea bream) and fagri (red porgy). Knowing that the latter was not always available and that it’s written on the menu that its meat is dense, sweet and versatile, we decided to go with red porgy ($14 per 100g); We figured the fish meat needs to be dense so that it holds better as we were opting for salt baked. The staff had also recommended either sea bream or red porgy for the salt baked method where the fish was encrusted in a thick layer of salt to keep the flesh within moist and tender. And when our fish was ready, our salt-encrusted fish was brought to us and removed from the salt in front of us. The staff further assisted to put the fish meat onto a separate plate for our easy consumption. And to enhance the taste, we were given sea salt, garlic oregano and garlic olive oil.

6) Mykonos lobster pasta, $95 (serves 2) (above) – With tomato sauce, white wine, lobster bisque and herbs. Now, the spaghetti was awesome. There was something addictive about it which my girlfriends and I (again) couldn’t put our finger on it. Although we highly suspect it’s the lobster bisque which the pasta had absorbed which made it so flavourful and tasty. Unfortunately, we couldn’t say the same for the lobster. Meat was flaky. A sign that it wasn’t fresh.

7) Fyllo-wrapped feta, $18 (above) – With Greek honey and sesame seeds. Although this dish was under ‘appetiser’, we only ordered it after our mains. Cause from its description, it sounded more like a dessert. Haha. And this was pretty good.

8) Loukoumades, $15 (above) – Greek fried donuts with honey, cinnamon and walnuts. Give this a miss. The batter of the donut was bland. I had to drench it with lots of honey before it had a taste; Sweet. Then again, this could be how it’s served in Greece. Maybe it’s me who do not know how to appreciate it. But if one really wants to try a Greek dessert, probably try something else from the menu?

Haven’t tried authentic Greek cuisine (defined as eating it in Greece) before, I am not sure how close Alati is to the real deal. But my girlfriends and I enjoyed our dinner at the restaurant.

I did feel as though I was holidaying in Greece while dining in the Santorini-style restaurant. If one wants, do request for table with the sofa seat which looked totally comfortable and makes a beautiful setting for group pictures!

Service was great too. Our cups were promptly topped up with water, and the staff even offered to change our plates a few times when it was too messy with losbter shells or various dips. Ha.

When my girlfriend and I were onto our dessert, we requested to shift to the tables in front of the restaurant. And we were so engrossed in our conversation that we did not realise we were the last group that was still hanging around at 11pm. To which we realised we were not chased away because Alati closes at mid night. So if one prefers to stay put at one place to have a long catch up, one could definitely consider Alati! But do take note that last order for dinner is at 10pm.

73 Amoy Street, Singapore
6221 6124, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Fri : 12:00 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Mon – Sat : 18:00 – 00:00 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Service: 7
* Closed on Sun

Dinner @ Maggie Joan’s

July 8, 2016 in European, Mediterranean by thywhaleliciousfay

And so, the group of friends who normally goes cafe-hopping with me had new weekend commitment. Which meant we could only meet for dinners on weekends now. =( As such, when we were to meet for our next catch-up, I had some difficulty finding us a venue. You see, this particular group of friends don’t like to spend too much, but most of my to-go-to-for-dinner places are fine dining restaurants. Oops.

But thank goodness, I got to learn about Maggie Joan’s. And Maggie Joan’s sounded interesting because they don’t have the normal enter-from-the-front entrance. Oh yes! To enter, one has to go by the back alley. I am a sucker for such lah. Haha. So with that, I updated my friends that we would be having dinner at Maggie Joan’s.

However, reservation was only made on the day my friends and I were to meet. And instead of phoning the restaurant up, lazy me made reservation via Chope. ANd as it was a last minute online booking, there were limited time slots left. Ie, 6pm, 6.30pm, and after 9pm. We went with 6.30pm.

And 3 hours before dinner, I received a mobile text from Maggie Joan’s informing us of their 15 minutes holding time and that the restaurant would need our table by 8.15pm.

Finding our way to the entrance sure wasn’t straight forward. Upon entering Amoy Street from Cross Street, one should walk along the small lane that’s just beside the stretch of shop houses as the entrance to Maggie Joan’s is from the back of the shop house. Alternatively, one could try finding the entrance by walking to the end of Gemmill Lane from Club Street.

One may also have read that Maggie Joan’s and Gemmills (the cafe located just next door) are opened by the same father-and-son team Glen and Daniel Ballis. However, the two eateries don’t enjoy the same treatment. Maggie Joan’s signage is a small signboard while Gemmills has its name painted boldly on the wall. But I guess the small signboard is very much to go in line with Maggie Joan’s ‘hush hush’ underground restaurant vibe.

So keep a lookout for Gemmills and one would easily locate the entrance to Maggie Joan’s which is the unit just beside!

Upon entering through the metal door, the staff checked our reservation before leading us to our table. And we were led to the back half of the restaurant where we could see the kitchen in action.

And from the menu (pages 1, 2, 3), we ordered:-

1) Egg, dukkha & saffron mayo, $6 (above) – If one intends to order this, it’s better to order one each as it’s tricky trying to share an egg among 3. Ha.

2) Cheese arancini & tomato chutney, $9 (above)

3) Inka roasted cauliflower, almond gazpacho, iberico ham & mint, $20 (above) – I liked this. For the pure fact that there’s iberico ham. Haha. A must try.

4) Chicken liver, pickled mushroom, peas & toast, $19 (above) – I am bias towards this dish. I enjoy my chicken liver, and this was pretty good. But of course, I wasn’t expecting it to be plated as though one was fine dining. A must try, nonetheless!

5) Hamachi crudo, pickled tomato & basil, $21 (above)

6) Smoked potato & egg raviolo, spinach & hazelnuts, $26 (above) – For a main, we were surprised to be served with one big ravioli. I mean, one!?! That doesn’t sound a lot to fill up one’s stomach. And because we had the ‘egg, dukkha & saffron mayo’ dish earlier, the raviolo somehow felt it was just a bigger version of it with an sous vide egg hidden within too.

7) Grilled Mediterranean octopus & Persian potato salad, $43 (above)

8) 36-hour pork belly, red cabbage & pickled walnut, $34 (above)

9) Iced coffee chocolate, salted peanut & bergamot, $12 (above) – This was pretty interesting. It’s served like that of a deconstructed chocolate bar.

10) Strawberry, black sesame & yogurt, $12 (above)

And at 8.30pm, the staff came up to us saying they needed the table back. As we still wanted to try the desserts, we were directed to Gemmills where we continued our meal.

Will I recommend Maggie Joan’s? I certainly like the ambiance of the place. And there’s no doubt about the food. Food was tasty, and at times innovative too. But when I think of underground restaurant, I actually associate it with hearty portion. For some reason, I imagine big-sized men coming to such dark, hidden and mysterious eateries for big mugs of beer and big portion of meat. o_O Haha. However, reality was that the portion at Maggie Joan’s could be a little on the small side. It would be ideal to share in groups of no more than 3. So thankfully I came with 2 friends.

So yes! If one decides to come and check out Maggie Joan’s, remember to make reservation early to get favourable time slot!

110 Amoy Street, #01-01, Singapore
6221 5564, Facebook
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Fri : 12:00 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Mon – Sat : 18:00 – 23:00 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Service: 7
* Closed on Sun