Newcomer to Sydney, Alissa Jenkins, takes a leisurely seaplane to Jonah’s Restaurant at Whale Beach, not a bad way to get her bearings!
I’m boarded and buckled-in on a seaplane in Sydney’s Rose Bay. It’s a sunny June morning with a gentle sea breeze and I’m excited, a little nervous, and awaiting takeoff.
The engine begins to hum and the seaplane starts to move, skimming along the tops of waves before the nose suddenly tips upward and speeds up into the sky.
The seaplane leans across Sydney Harbour then continues to follow the scenic coastline north, casting its shadow over Kirribilli to Palm Beach.
As a newcomer to Sydney, I cannot imagine a better way than this to get my bearings.
The further up we fly, the more Sydney streets become mere fine grey threads and clumps of trees resemble heads of broccoli.
The 12-minute flight soon comes to an end, starting with an airborne U-turn then a steep water-landing on Pittwater. A quick ride in a dinghy boat to the jetty, and I am greeted on the shore by a courtesy bus ready to take me to the iconic Whale Beach restaurant, Jonah’s.
Following a short bus trip up a winding road, I finally arrive at Jonah’s Restaurant. As I approach the front door, neighboured by a golden Relais & Chateaux plaque, it’s already obvious that this is somewhere special.
After being guided through the entrance and through to a crisp white function room, I’m dumbfounded by a blindingly blue ocean view beaming through glass doors on the opposite side of the room.
Seduced by the view, I’m immediately drawn outside onto the private balcony, furnished with round cane lounges. There I soak up the vast Pacific horizon, champagne in hand, while I wait for the sumptuous luncheon can begin.
The restaurant’s new Spanish-born executive chef, Alfonso Ales, has created a menu inspired by southern Europe using fresh produce, complimented by specially selected wines from Jonah’s expansive cellar, thoughtfully partnered with each dish.
For entrée there is a choice of North Atlantic scallops, marron lobster or squid.
I opt for the scallops and am presented with a delicately designed dish. The scallops come with an apple and celeriac remoulade (a mayonnaise-like sauce), lime-sour cream and a wispy thin sesame wafer on top, with a dollop of caviar.
The table falls silent as everyone attentively tastes their first course. Murmurs of praise soon fill the room.
Main course offers a selection of salmon, kingfish and scampi or Peking-Aylesbury duck; I go with the duck.
A plate arrives in front of me featuring rich tender duck in a pomegranate seed sauce, slow roasted root vegetables, citrus fruits and honey-braised pears. An eerie silence again comes across the room and I enjoy this culinary highlight with all my senses.
Dessert takes the experience to a new level with my choice of a chocolate “Valrhona Grand Cru”. A rectangular white plate appears with a silver spoonful of milk chocolate ice cream on the left, a small jug of warm chocolate sauce on the right and in the middle a glass bowl of rich chocolate fudge, covered in a spiced chocolate shell.
I pour the sauce over the bowl, softening the shell and cracking it with my spoon so it falls into the fudge below.
I drop the ice cream in too and enjoy many heaped spoonfuls of the decadent, slightly crunchy chocolate mess, almost overwhelmed by the intensity.
Before long it’s time to return to the real world.
A bus, a dinghy and a seaplane later and I’m again in the sky enjoying a second serving of unparalleled views of Sydney Harbour, before landing back in Rose Bay.
This experience is a must for every Sydney-sider’s bucket-list.
Standard rates for a return seaplane flight to Whale Beach and a three-course lunch at Jonah’s Restaurant start at $505 per person.
For a Jonah’s Seaplane Experience, contact Sydney Seaplanes on 1300 732 752
Alissa was a guest of Jonah’s Restaurant and Sydney Seaplanes.