Recently I treated Eric to a surprise getaway at Jonah’s at Whale Beach for his 30th birthday. At first I was tempted by the bed, breakfast & dinner package the hotel offers. But after a few calculations, I was befuddled to find that the packages are more expensive than if you just book everything separately. So I went ahead and booked the bed & breakfast option ($680 on a Sunday), and then made a dinner reservation afterwards.
The Boutique Hotel
Service is immediately excellent. We’re given a quick tour of the restaurant, bar and terrace, ending at the garden, where we sip on a glass of Taittinger and drink in the view.
The pool is tiny and has minimal space for lounging. I have an affinity for reading by the pool, but this isn’t really cut out for lounging as there’s a barrier surrounding it. Safety first!
Google Maps tells me that Whale Beach is about a 15-minute walk down, but the weather wasn’t cooperating that day. In fact the waves looked positively scary, and the beach was closed for swimming, so we didn’t venture down.
We’re greeted by a complimentary bottle of Taittinger when we’re escorted to our humble abode. The rooms are stunning, awash with subdued neutrals. There’s a luxurious but beachy appeal to the way it’s decorated. And of course the view is beyond compare.
The bathroom has a life of its own, decked out with two shower-heads (one of which is a rain shower – heck yeah), L’Occitane products, and a glorious spa bath. Now for the magic: there are windows that open up to the bedroom by the bath. And the clever bit is that the TV is movable, so you can angle it perfectly to watch Foxtel in the spa with a glass champers in hand. The free wifi is a bonus, as is the extensive list of Foxtel channels available at your disposal.
By around 4pm we’re peckish, so we meander to the bar for a snack. The brief menu tackles share plates with gusto. The sweet potato fries are enormous. And the charcuterie platter is generously draped with meats, olives, and peppers. The only downer is that the bread is supposedly Turkish, but it neither looks nor tastes like Turkish bread.
If you’re lucky you might score a spot on the terrace to enjoy the bar food. But the inside bar area is still nice enough, spruced with plush lounges.
Dinner at the Restaurant
Our late afternoon snacking stint dictates our choice at dinner. Instead of our customary inclination towards the four-course menu or degustation, we downgrade to the three-course option ($115).
An amuse bouche of sweet potato and vanilla soup is a very sweet start to our meal. My first course is the decadent green lasagnette tossed in a crème fraiche sauce with duck foie gras, chestnut mushrooms, apple, and chamomile. Intense and creamy, it’s balanced well with a hint of acidity. Only the dehydrated apples are lost on me, mostly because of the spongey texture. Eric starts with the grilled half shell scallops shrouded with sourdough crumbs, pancetta, thyme, and parmesan. The plate is a bit too small though, and crumbs end up all over the table.
For the second course I pick the fish of the day: snapper with bok choy and surf clams. The fish is overcooked, but I like that the bok choy isn’t treated in an Asian way. There’s a good char to it. Eric’s main of roasted Moreton Bay bug tails are paired with glazed pork belly, a tart barberry and buckwheat salad, and fantastic crisp pork skin. On the side, the oven-roasted pinkeye potatoes with garlic and rosemary ($14) are excellent.
The pre-dessert is a shot glass of pannacotta, complete with tiny spoon on a slate (is it me or are slates very 2014?). Off-puttingly the waiter announces that on top of the pannacotta there are ‘raisins in brandy… I think?’. On the whole the waitstaff is a bit nervous and inattentive.
When our desserts arrive, the pre-dessert plate (or slate, I should say) is awkwardly left in the middle of our table. And the empty wine glass that’s been sitting pretty for the last hour is finally swept away. These are service hiccups I’d normally overlook in a casual diner, but I’d expect more attention to detail from a one-hatted restaurant.
My peach and thyme cobbler roasted in muscovado sugar is served in a small, hot copper pot that slides around on the plate. And because it’s scorching hot, you can’t hold the handle. I’m left battling this cobbler with a spoon.
I’m not at all surprised when Eric chooses the textures of chocolate and cherry ripe for his third course. The plate of roast dark chocolate, milk chocolate ganache, cherries, and coconut sorbet is far better than the name suggests; I don’t like cherry ripes, but I do like this dessert. For me the highlight is the coconut sorbet, a refreshing and smooth take on a cherry ripe.
Breakfast at the Restaurant
Breakfast is included in the accommodation, but if you’re up for an indulgent breakfast it’s $55 for the 2-course brekkie, including a mini croissant to start as well as coffee, tea, and juice.
I’m still ridiculously full from dinner the night before (plus I don’t normally even eat breakfast), so I’m drawn to the bowl of fresh fruit with maple yoghurt, sesame seeds, and pumpkin seeds for my first course. Eric’s waffles are oddly paired with lychees. Otherwise it’s a handsomely presented plate of waffles with manuka honey, ricotta, and toasted pecans.
The poached eggs, sweet corn fritters, bacon, cherry tomatoes, crushed avocado, bronze fennel is flawless. Well-seasoned, perfectly cooked, and yes it’s a very simple combination of breakfast ingredients, but it’s a combination that works well. For Eric, the second course is the eggs trio: baked quail eggs, duck egg souffle, soft boiled egg, and Vegemite soldiers. It’s a huge serving for breakfast, especially considering he just demolished some waffles before this.