Jonah's review

Jonah's perches above Whale Beach as if at Portofino.
Jonah's perches above Whale Beach as if at Portofino. Photo: Wolter Peeters

69 Bynya Rd Whale Beach, NSW 2107

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Opening hours Daily 7.30-9am; noon-2.30pm; 6.30-9.30pm
Features Accepts bookings, Bar, Licensed, Long lunch, Views
Prices Expensive (mains over $40)
Seats 100
Phone 02 9974 5599

There's something about Jonah's that takes me right back to the old late-night TV show Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. It's the way it perches above Whale Beach as if at Cap Ferrat or Positano, the way it has stuck to its fine-dining guns for decades, and the way the besuited waitstaff are clearly modelled on butlers and private valets.

Yet, surprisingly, I've snuck in for $89 for two courses (and $110 for three). Not so much Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, but more Lifestyles of the Moderately Comfortable and Relatively Well-Known in Small Circles.

Given the million-dollar views, high service levels, special-occasion, double-clothed tables, and fine linen napkins of this luxury boutique hotel dining room, that's perfectly reasonable.

Go-to dish: Casarecce pasta with spanner crab, roast cherry tomato and prawn oil.
Go-to dish: Casarecce pasta with spanner crab, roast cherry tomato and prawn oil. Photo: Wolter Peeters

Given, also, that a side dish per person, appetisers, Italian bread, pre-dessert, and petits fours are included, it's anachronistically generous. Nobody does that stuff anymore.

But I've gotten this far and not even told you the best bit – Jonah's has gone Italian. Like, beautiful focaccia and excellent pasta, Italian.

OK, so it went a little Italian when Matteo Zamboni started two years ago, but it had been so Frenchy for so long, from the early days of Patrice Boone and Frederic Naud, and on to Richard Purdue and George Francisco and others, that I suspect they didn't want him to scare the horses. Now it's a far more confident Italian offering, which really suits the (almost) Mediterranean setting.

Burrata with heirloom tomatoes.
Burrata with heirloom tomatoes. Photo: Wolter Peeters

I love the bread, a warm tomato focaccia pillow served with ricotta topped with olive crumbs. Then come the snacks – tiny parmigiano crisps, olive cake, seeded crackers. Then choices have to be made, between oysters, burrata with heirloom tomatoes, a simple dish of split and grilled prawns.

Pasta is not an afterthought, but central to the menu – and it's done well enough to warrant the one-hour drive from the CBD.

House-made casarecce is glorious; the S-shaped scrolls of tubular pasta picking up and carrying a lush, peppery sauce of cherry tomatoes and prawn oil, studded with clumps of just-picked spanner crab.

New Zealand pink snapper with a buttery lemon sauce.
New Zealand pink snapper with a buttery lemon sauce. Photo: Wolter Peeters

Linguine is coiled into one long ball of knitting yarn, abundantly sauced with cultured butter and preserved lemon, and strewn with a tiny dice of house-smoked salmon and bright, shiny globules of salmon caviar. It's really, really, really rich.

Market fish today is New Zealand pink snapper, filleted, or whole and pan-roasted, served with another richly lemony, buttery sauce, with splodges of cherry tomatoes and green olive cheeks.

Cooked on the bone, the flesh is clean, white and sweet, but if you've mistakenly ordered two very richly sauced dishes as I have, you may be stonkered already.

Chocolate cremosa with rich chocolate mousse, coffee jelly and warm marsala sabayon.
Chocolate cremosa with rich chocolate mousse, coffee jelly and warm marsala sabayon. Photo: Wolter Peeters

Milanese crumbed veal is nice and simple, but soon becomes a yawn; a bit too much of the same thing. There's beef, of course, given some of the greatest red wines of the world lie in wait in the cellar – and note that there is no surcharge for the 350-gram pasture-fed angus rib-eye on the bone.

Desserts are sweetly finessed and decorative; the star being a chocolate cremoso with warm and cold layers of rich chocolate mousse, coffee jelly and warm marsala sabayon.

Or take a platter of cheeses out on the terrace (an extra $12), with a bottle of the Domaine de la Romanee-Conti La Tache 2016 (an extra $4889) if your lifestyle permits.

The low-down

Vegetarian: A smattering of options, plus a dedicated vegan menu.

Drinks: Classic cocktails, a useful list of sherries, and an award-winning 82-page, 1700-bottle wine list that includes 11 vintages of Grange, and 37 wines by the glass.

Go-to dish: Casarecce pasta with spanner crab, roast cherry tomato and spicy prawn oil.

Pro tip: Lunch al fresco on Jonah's balcony terrace, which runs a smaller, more casual menu of shared plates.

https://www.jonahs.com.au/