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Sunday, August 03, 2014

Jonah's, Whale Beach

Jonah's at Whale Beach, Sydney

Blue skies. The sun on your face. And a shimmering expanse of azure water stretching its way to the horizon. It's hard not to be taken aback by the views from Jonah's. Perched high on the cliffs above Whale Beach, there's an instant sense of calm as you take in the bask in that magical trio of sun, sand and sea.

It takes just under an hour to drive to Jonah's from the CBD, a distance that always seemed that little bit too far for organising a lunch with friends. But what if you a chauffeur could drive you there and back? In a Rolls Royce Phantom?! Sign me up, I said, when the media invite came through.

Rolls Royce Phantom Drophead chauffeur ride to Jonah's, Whale Beach
Rolls Royce Phantom Drophead, one of only 14 in Australia

The Ultimate Dining Experience combines a chauffeur-driven transfer by Royale Limousines with a three course meal at Jonah's. Let's be clear. This isn't cheap, but if you want to instantly wow someone special, this is an easy way to do it.

Ten minutes before I'm due to be picked up, I get a phone call on my mobile from the limousine driver, politely letting me know he's not far away. It's all a little surreal when the Rolls Royce Phantom Drophead pulls up to the curb. The British handmade convertible is the most expensive Rolls Royce model on the market at the moment. There are only 14 Phantoms in Australia. Each costs more than $1 million.

Rolls Royce Phantom Drophead leather interiors and teak wood panelling
Leather interiors and teak wood panelling

The two door coupé means you'll have to clamber behind the front seat and into the back. Once you're there, though, it's like sitting in business class. The soft leather seats are cool to the touch, and the teak wood panelling feels very gentleman's club. It's an incredibly smooth ride too, with a V12 engine than hums quietly in the background. I'm not even exaggerating when I say it seems like we're floating over any bumps in the road as we make our way up through the Northern Beaches.

Our driver is friendly and professional, and more than happy to chat when we engage him in conversation. The fleet is based at The Star casino, and he hints that he's got plenty of stories about the VIPs he's driven around. The hire cars are most often used by high rollers, celebrities and for weddings, especially those who have chosen Sydney as a destination wedding.

Dining room adjoining the balcony at Jonah's, Whale Beach
Jonah's dining room adjoining the balcony

He admits he loves driving the Phantom but he also finds it the most stressful. "I have to have eyes in the back of my head," he says, to make sure the car returns each time in pristine condition.

Everyone turns to stop and stare as we move through Sydney traffic. One hour seems to fly past and it's almost a shame when we finally pull up at Jonah's. The driver will happily oblige you with photos next to the Phantom too.

Window-side dining area at Jonah's, Whale Beach
Jonah's window-side dining area

Jonah's is open seven days for lunch and dinner, but it's no surprise that daytime bookings are infinitely more popular so diners can soak up the views.

Dining room looking out onto the balcony at Jonah's, Whale Beach
Dining area looking out onto the balcony

The dining room is a sea of pressed white tablecloths set with glinting glasses. Most people seem to revel in the opportunity to get dressed up for a fancy Friday lunch but there are also more casual dining areas on the balcony and the terrace.

Outdoor terrace dining with sweeping views of Whale Beach at Jonah's
Outdoor terrace dining with sweeping views of Whale Beach

"We're happy for anyone to pop in for a quick drink or a bite to eat," says marketing manager, Kim Read. There's a simpler (and cheaper) menu for the bar and terrace with oysters, sandwiches, fish and chips or grilled beef tenderloins ranging from $18-$35. You can also order from the full a la carte menu for dessert.

NV Taittinger Brut "Reserve" champagne at Jonah's, Whale Beach
NV Taittinger Brut "Reserve" champagne $125 by the bottle / $22 by the glass

We start with glasses of Taittinger champagne, but there's a serious wine list here for devotees. There are more than 1,500 different wines on a menu that runs for 78 pages. In the cellar are 5,000 bottles from Australia and around the world.

Coravin wine preseravtion system at Jonah's, Whale Beach
Coravin wine preservation system

Jonah's is also one of the few restaurants in Australia to own a Coravin, a $500 wine preservation system that allows you to pour a single glass of wine from a bottle without removing the cork.

Pouring a single glass of wine using Coravin wine preseravtion system at Jonah's, Whale Beach
Extracting a single glass of wine without removing the cork

The Coravin inserts a thin needle into the cork so a glass of wine can be poured. As the wine is removed, the empty space is replaced with Argon, an odourless and tasteless gas. No oxygen enters the bottle. It means that Jonah's can make expensive vintage wines available to diners, who can splurge on a glass without having to pay for the entire bottle.

You can enjoy a glass of the 2011 Lake's Folly white label cabernet from the Hunter Valley ($29 for 150ml) or a 1987 Niepoort vintage port from the Douro Valley in Portugal ($39 for 60ml). And if you're on the Ultimate Dining Experience, noone needs to worry about being the designated driver either - win!

Cured beef with truffled goats cheese and tapenade amuse bouche at Jonah's, Whale Beach
Amuse bouche: Cured beef with truffled goats cheese and tapenade

Then there's the food, overseen by Executive Chef Peter Ridland, ex-Bistro Lulu and the Gunners Barracks. The a la carte menu is the same for lunch and dinner with each course grouped under set prices. That means entrees for $28, mains for $48 and desserts at $20 each.

North Atlantic scallops with freshly shaved WA Manjimup truffle at Jonah's, Whale Beach
North Atlantic scallops $28 with WA Manjimup fresh truffle $15 for 3 grams
with foie gras mousse, coffee, Jerusalem artichoke and bourbon foam

There are seven different entrees to choose from, ranging from half-a-dozen freshly shucked Sydney Rock oysters to Queensland mud crab to confit Berkshire pork belly. Almost everyone orders the North Atlantic scallops, seared so the surface is a deep golden-brown.

Fresh WA Manjimup truffle shaved at the table at Jonah's, Whale Beach
Fresh WA Manjimup truffle shaved at the table

If the foie grass mousse and bourbon foam isn't fancy enough, you can also add fresh West Australian Manjimup truffle, shaved straight onto your plate at the table. The smell is intoxicating, and worth indulging in whilst truffles are in season. Truffles can be added to any of the entree dishes.

Confit Tasmanian Huon salmon at Jonah's, Whale Beach
Complimentary pre-main: Confit Tasmanian Huon salmon 
with pickled ginger, orange, puffed wild rice, wasabi and nori powder ($28 for entree size)

We're treated to a complimentary pre-main, a miniature-sized version of the confit Tasmanian Huon salmon entree. It's extraordinarily pretty, with the enoki mushrooms standing tall against a mound of soft and buttery salmon. Segmented oranges add a citrusy freshness against the flavours of nori and the delicate crunch of puffed wild rice.

Master Kobe wagyu rump cap with short rib, beetroot and bone marrow crust at Jonah's, Whale Beach
Master Kobe wagyu rump cap (QLD) $48
roasted with short rib, sweet potato dauphine, beetroot and bone marrow crust

Everyone else at the table went with the pan seared barramundi with soft shell crab and pickled green papaya for mains; I had the Master Kobe wagyu rump cap. It's a rich and heavy dish, despite its size: two thick slabs of tender fat-marbled wagyu rump cap alongside a cube of sticky sweet short rib.

There's more heavy going through the sweet potato dauphine and miniature onion rings but the stack of thin beetroot slices provides some necessary relief.

Sweet corn and char grilled baby corn at Jonah's, Whale Beach
Sweet corn and char grilled baby corn with chilli butter and coriander chimichurri $15

We share a selection of sides, including the fennel and orange salad ($15) and the mixed salad leaves ($10). The duo of sweet corn and char grilled baby corn feels like a curious mash-up of Chinese and Southern American dishes, however the sweet pop of young corn kernels proves rather addictive.

Roasted chat potatoes with speck at Jonah's, Whale Beach
Roasted chat potatoes with speck, caramelised onion and parsley $15

And nobody can resist the roasted chat potatoes either, cooked to a satisfying crisp and tossed through with cubes of smoky speck, caramelised onion and chopped parsley.

Lunchtime diners on the terrace at Jonah's, Whale Beach
Lunchtime diners on the terrace

While we wait for dessert, we watch a couple sit down and enjoy a casual lunch on the terrace. It looks a little blustery out there, but they have the entire lawn to themselves. The terrace is especially popular in the warmer weather, we're told.

Meanwhile there's a quiet marriage proposal happening at the table behind us. She says yes. Waitstaff tell us Jonah's currently has a 100% success rate when it comes to marriage proposals.

Passionfruit panna cotta pre-dessert at Jonah's, Whale Beach
Complimentary pre-dessert: passionfruit panna cotta

Our complimentary pre-desserts are ridiculously cute: tiny passionfruit panna cottas presented in shot glasses with miniature spoons hanging off the rim.

Flamed banana and rum ice cream gateaux at Jonah's, Whale Beach
Flamed banana and rum ice cream gateaux $20
with lychee, banana bread, cocoa and almond tuille

We share a selection of desserts: there are four sweet choices on the menu plus a cheese platter served with quince paste, walnuts, witlof and pear.

The flamed banana and rum ice cream gateaux has much to explore, the layered ice cream terrine garnished with almond tuilles and surrounded with fresh lychee, blow-torched banana turrets and miniscule cubes of banana bread.

Manuka honey and cinnamon crumble at Jonah's, Whale Beach
Manuka honey and cinnamon crumble $20
with confit mandarin, orange bavarois, yoghurt and mandarin sorbet

The Manuka honey and cinnamon crumble is picture perfect too, like an edible terrarium with layers of yoghurt and mandarin sorbet built up with confit mandarin, orange bavarois, Manuka honey trails, cinnamon crumble and a glistening shard of toffee the colour of sunshine.

Chocolate and Chambord opera cake at Jonah's, Whale Beach
Chocolate and Chambord opera cake $20
with meringue, strawberry and mascarpone sorbet

The chocolate and Chambord opera cake is pretty on the plate too. The layers of jaconde, ganache and buttercream are impressively precise, lightened by smithereens of freeze dried strawberries, puffs of meringue and a quenelle of mascarpone sorbet.

Rolls Royce Phantom Drophead chauffeur-driven ride from Jonah's, Whale Beach
Home, James!

And there's nothing like travelling home in style either. We walk out the doors to find the Phantom parked right out front, just like the movies. Our chauffeur is standing by the open car door with a smile. I can't help but smile back. It's been a grand day indeed.

Grab Your Fork attended the Jonah's Ultimate Dining Experience as a guest of Jonah's and Royale Limousines.

The Ultimate Dining Experience costs $795 per person for the Rolls Royce Phantom Drophead, including a return pick-up and three course meal spanning 2.5 hours. Alternatively you can travel in a Mercedes S Class or BMW 7 series for $395 per person. All vehicles require a minimum of two passengers. Up to two additional guests can be included in any vehicle for $105 extra per person. Pick-ups can be organised from the CBD ring, eastern suburbs or lower north shore. More details here...

Jonah's on Urbanspoon

Jonah's Restaurant
69 Bynya Road, Whale Beach, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9974 5599

Open daily
Breakfast 7.30am - 9.30pm
Lunch 12pm - 2.30pm
Dinner from 6pm

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Balmoral Beach - Bathers' Pavilion Cafe
Balmoral Beach - Bathers' Pavilion Restaurant
North Narrabeen - Brot & Wurst
38 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 8/03/2014 03:14:00 am


  • At 8/03/2014 7:56 am, Anonymous john | heneedsfood said…

    Ooh la la, what an extravagant afternoon you had! I can imagine you wearing long lace gloves and a wispy scarf around your neck as you were chauffeured up to the northern beaches.

    Gorgeous location and fab view over the headland. Love the white palette of the restaurant, and that food!

  • At 8/03/2014 8:00 am, Anonymous ChopinandMysaucepan said…

    Dear Helen,

    There are so many different 'wows' just where do we start???

    This is truly a grand day and it's only because Sydney is truly world class!!

  • At 8/03/2014 8:25 am, Anonymous Michael @ I'm Still Hungry said…

    Holy moly! At first, I thought this was going to be a normal restaurant post. That escalated quickly with the Phantom!

    I wonder what the actual dollar value of such an experience is...

    On a related note, the food looks really pretty! I'm keen to try it out now - despite a work mate mentioning it's a bit overpriced for what you get.

  • At 8/03/2014 9:32 am, Anonymous Bianca@forfoodssake said…

    Looks like you had a fabulous day Helen. Jonah's is such a gorgeous restaurant.

  • At 8/03/2014 9:43 am, Blogger gaby @ lateraleating said…

    Amazing experience! You must have felt like a celebrity!

  • At 8/03/2014 9:44 am, Anonymous Alice said…

    Seriously stylish and an absolute dream to wake up & read this glamorous post this morning! Felt like we were travelling with you in the Rolls, as you touched on all those incredibly delicious & thoughtful details. Loved your descriptions, right down to the edible terrariums at the end. Now, if only I could bookmark this for me sweetheart to find, somehow!

  • At 8/03/2014 10:10 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wowowow what an extravagant lunch and for once, I wasn't only attracted to the food but the Phantom too! Jonah's looks like such a beautiful restaurant - no wonder the proposal rate is 100% :P

  • At 8/03/2014 3:50 pm, Anonymous Fleur@changingshores said…

    What a fantastic adventure. Love the car, love the ocean views and the food looks delicious.

  • At 8/03/2014 4:28 pm, Anonymous Cindy (a foodie's joy) said…

    Wow! What a fabulous experience! The Coravin looks interesting and one I would like to try out. Especially since I only order by the glass and would love the opportunity to try a great vintage by the glass. Great post Helen! :)

  • At 8/03/2014 4:29 pm, Blogger Sherrie @ Crystal Noir said…

    What stunning views!! I can definitely see why proposals would happen here :D And every course looks absolutely stunning as well. Definitely looks like they take a lot of care with presentation!

  • At 8/03/2014 5:59 pm, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    the banana bread cubes are so perfect!

  • At 8/03/2014 6:25 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What an awesome invite! Lucky you!

  • At 8/03/2014 6:27 pm, Blogger Von said…

    The car door opens the opposite way to normal car doors :O I know next to nothing when it comes to cars haha (other than the fact that rolls royce cars are super expensive lol). The view looks amazing too!! The first picture looks like one of those typical perfect holiday shots on the other side of the world at the moment (since we're in winter) :D The food looks so pretty! The wine pouring system sounds awesome too- but does it mean that the wine flow out really really slowly?

  • At 8/03/2014 9:42 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    everything looks so pretty here and those roasted potatoes are just calling out for me. This place has been on my list to go for a while now! I will make it there one day,

    ps DC and I spent 5 years trying to get a cork out of a wine bottle a month ago. The cork broke. I think we need one of those machines now lol

  • At 8/03/2014 11:55 pm, Anonymous Tina@foodboozeshoes said…

    Wow, that looks like quite the experience - the car ride alone!

  • At 8/04/2014 6:47 am, Blogger Ramen Raff said…

    Wowzers!!! This is an ultimate experience indeed! The food looks as lovely and stunning as the whole place. The opera cake looks sooo lush.

  • At 8/04/2014 9:27 am, Blogger vegeTARAian said…

    Oh my, what a view! Jonah's has been on my wishlist for the longest time. How lucky you were to travel there in style!

  • At 8/04/2014 10:50 am, Anonymous Amanda @lambsearsandhoney said…

    Wow, what a great way to spend the afternoon! A perfect location and in such a nice ride, too.

  • At 8/04/2014 11:59 am, Anonymous Tania@My Kitchen Stories said…

    How very exciting Helen. a day you won't soon forget. Also a great service for a marriage proposal. We were just talking about going to Jonahs on Friday

  • At 8/04/2014 1:19 pm, Blogger Neel Kuba said…

    The views are spectacular, the desserts look out of this world, the wagyu rump is glossy and tempting and looks like a great experience all together! Lucky you :)

  • At 8/04/2014 5:15 pm, Anonymous Gourmet Getaways said…

    OMG ,Helen, what an exquisite experience! The Royce!!! The desserts look so fabulously delicious! Everything looks so well-crafted :) And...1,500 different wines?! Whoa!

    Gourmet Getaways

  • At 8/04/2014 6:35 pm, Anonymous angela@mykikicake said…

    Dining in true style...I love it! Very jealous of this as everything looked so spectacular. Time to start saving my pennies.!

  • At 8/04/2014 9:02 pm, Anonymous Padaek said…

    Awesome! What a ritzy experience. The Phantom looks so Hollywood and love love the idea of that Coravin. Food and photos look amazing, but I love the writing the most. That top balcony view shot looks so perfect! :)

  • At 8/04/2014 11:15 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi John - Confession: we put the roof back on for the drive. It was way too windy. lol!

    Hi Michael - I've put the prices at the end of the post. It's $795pp (min 2 people) for dinner and transfer by the Phantom. It's cheaper if you go with a Merc or BMW.

    Hi Cindy - Agreed. It's a great way to splash out on something spesh.

    Hi Von - It's a little slower but most people are too busy staring at the Coravin that I don't think anyone notices that it takes 30 secs to pour the glass. lol

    Hi Shanshan - Five years or five minutes? Or five hours? lolol. I find the wing corkscrews are the easiest - or otherwise stick to screw tops! lol. Also the Coravin is $500. Plus $10 per gas capsule.

    Hi Tania - Wow that is a coincidence. Hope you make it soon. I hear it's whale watching season soon!

    Hi Padaek - Aww thanks so much! I really did try to capture the whole experience in photos and text :)

  • At 8/04/2014 11:21 pm, Blogger Sarah said…

    Wow, wow, wow! What a luxurious experience!! And look at those views! I can see why Jonah's has a 100% marriage proposal success rate! :)

    xox Sarah

  • At 8/05/2014 10:26 am, Blogger Cassie | Journey From Within said…

    Travelling in style to lunch and back! Never wil have complaints, looked like a great lunch altogether. The ride would definitely have been an extra bonus!

  • At 8/05/2014 1:49 pm, Anonymous Felicia @ Next Stop: Food said…

    Oh wow look at that Phantom! The venue is so beautiful :)

  • At 8/05/2014 3:43 pm, Blogger Milktea Eats said…

    you are living the life! oh how much would i like one of those beasts to pick me up, v12 engine!

  • At 8/05/2014 8:59 pm, Anonymous Lori said…

    Wow, what an incredible experience! I'm not really a car person, but the food looks amazing, fresh, vibrant, mouth-watering. Thanks for another great post!

  • At 8/05/2014 9:07 pm, Anonymous msihua said…

    Truffles, butler and fanciness! I too want to get proposed to here!

  • At 8/05/2014 9:13 pm, Anonymous Olivia @ mademoiselleinsydney said…

    100% success rate for proposals? Loved that statistic :)
    The venue is gorgeous and the pics, amazing :)

  • At 8/05/2014 10:58 pm, Anonymous Chris @ MAB vs Food said…

    Jonah's has got to have the most stunning view for a restaurant in Sydney. Those views of Whale Beach are just magic!

    And I am a sucker for truffles being shaved at the table - I think it's a must when having truffles. I am in so much love with the heady aroma of truffles!

  • At 8/06/2014 5:03 am, Anonymous Judit + Corina @ Glamorous Bite said…

    What a glorious dinner Helen! Loved your beautiful photos and we put Jonah's on our "Must Do" list for our Sydney visit.

  • At 8/07/2014 5:11 pm, Anonymous Kaz said…

    This is the answer, the proof, when they say did u have a fun day ???
    Even getting stuck in Sydney traffic is ok In that car....
    U guys r so lu key...

  • At 8/07/2014 11:45 pm, Blogger Vivian - vxdollface said…

    What an amazing experience! Everything looks so pristine and picture perfect, what a stunning location and that car is a hella sweet ride!

  • At 8/07/2014 11:46 pm, Blogger Vivian - vxdollface said…

    What an amazing experience! Everything looks so pristine and picture perfect, what a stunning location and that car is a hella sweet ride!

  • At 8/08/2014 9:34 pm, Anonymous Amanda @ Gourmanda said…

    I am by far the least 'car' person I know (I struggle to describe a car beyond "it's....red?"), but even I can be impressed with that Rolls Royce!

    It sounds like a heavenly experience - very decadent, and dare I say, a touch of the South of France given Jonah's location on the Beaches?

  • At 8/14/2014 11:25 pm, Anonymous The Blonde Tourist said…

    Oh my lord that looks like such an amazing experience!! The Kobe looks amazing and the pre-dessert? There should always been a pre-dessert! I'm intrigued by the wine thingamajig too, great way to try a fancy wine without the mega cost of a bottle. Lucky girl! BT x


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