Review – Jonah’s Meets Chef Willi, Indiranagar

Decoding the elaborate gimmick of this restaurant’s whale-song of a name would take twice as long as Sunday brunch in its rain-tree green cocoon. Let’s leave aside the Bible, the VeggieTales song and the cult 1980s movie to start with one question: just who is Chef Willi?

Your reporters uncover that he is a real person named Willi Wilson, a New Zealander who swam across the Indian Ocean to set up a number of Chennai’s nicest restaurants, before shimmying overland up to Bangalore to found a restaurant identical to one he opened in Alwarpet down south.

Come here to eat it if you’re ever in a Captain Ahab mood. It’ll turn your ship around.

Diving In

At Jonah’s Meets Chef Willi, we dive into a pitcher of sangria and have to break for air gasping at its potency. Even a pina colada, we feel – highly uncharacteristically for us – could do with more sweetness to match its strength.

Hollow-cheeked, we sail into the snacks menu. Japanese beef sticks – thin, panko-crusted slivers of steak holding together a blossom of buttery, peppery mushrooms – are a delight, as are cheesy, crunchy ricotta fritters. The rest of the round is more or less plankton in the belly of this whale. Smoked salmon crostinis are clogged, heavy cheese tarts and pork spare ribs taste like something Fleece served up in a bad mood on the Pequod.

Back to Shore

The barman recommends we try shrubs, “vinegar-based syrup cocktails brightened with carbonated water and flavouring.” In spite of this description, we do. A vodka-based shrub doesn’t really play off the blueberry-raspberry, Sourpatch-Kids quality of the beverage; another version with rum, blackberry and lime is much better. Summer Julep is a classic adapted for daylight, with gin swapped for bourbon and cucumber for mint.

Fortified, we seek safe harbour in the main(e)s. The beef continues to be outstanding in a grilled steak, accompanied by mashed potatoes spiked with punchy blue cheese. Teriyaki grilled salmon doesn’t mangle the fish the way the crostini did. Unfortunately, this is undercut by cheese-overload in the breaded chicken, so overpowering we must abandon ship.

The life raft of our evening is coconut pannacotta with pineapple stew, and a retro English jelly custard trifle. The first holds the joy and effervescence of summer in each bite, and the latter takes us safely back to the shores of childhood with its after-school-treat quality.

Come here to eat it if you’re ever in a Captain Ahab mood. It’ll turn your ship around.

Getting there: Jonah’s Meets Chef Willi, 598/1, 12th Main Road, IInd Stage, Indiranagar, call 41261488. A meal for three with two rounds of drinks cost Rs 7400.

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