Jonah's on the Beach, Newcastle

What: Jonah's on the Beach

Where: Noah's on the Beach, Newcastle

Prices: Entree from $16.50 to $25 (oysters more), main from $38 to $47 (with foie gras option), dessert from $13.50 to $15.50;cheese, one for $17.50, $3.50 for each additional

Chef: Jason Richardson

Wines: Comprehensive list from the Hunter, SA, WA, Victoria, NZ, France and Italy, many by the glass (all 200ml)

Hours: Open seven days for breakfast, lunch and dinner

Extras: All $7

Vegetarian: Separate menu with eight dishes

Bookings: 4929 5181

Bottom line: Entree, main, dessert, for two, about $140 without wine

It has been said that a fabulous view and well-crafted food are mutually exclusive but this assumption has been well and truly debunked many times. Jonah's on the Beach is blessed with a magnificent view over Newcastle Beach. Does it have the well-crafted food as well?

Even that view is not enough to distract when an amuse bouche, shot glasses of a pared-down prawn cocktail, arrives. The tail provides a handle for dipping the sweet prawn flesh into the seafood sauce on the chiffonnade lettuce at the bottom.

It's a well-designed menu, ranging from oysters through seafood, fish, veal, beef, lamb and duck, with vegetarian options but, again, I find myself wanting to start with a simple dinner roll rather than caramelised balsamic butter and dipping pesto ($7.50).

On the other hand, two entre{aac}es plus a dessert can provide a light but well-balanced meal, particularly if you choose goat's cheese stuffed zucchini blossoms ($19) and rare roasted veal fillet on sauce "tonnato" ($20).

Two tiny zucchini, their blossoms plump with tangy, herb-infused goat's cheese, are coated with crisp, translucent batter. The roasted capsicum puree sweeping across the plate adds its smoky flavours to complement a small pile of sweet balsamic onion jam. Dots of balsamic vinegar add a visual balance.

Vitello tonnato is a classic first course. The veal fillet has been roasted rare, cooled and sliced. Three slices are arranged on a puddle of sauce a mayonnaise enriched with pureed tuna and anchovies. The Mediterranean flavours get a further kick from three small dollops of olive puree.

My partner can fit in a main course and the smoked salmon terrine ($19) entree. The layers of smoked salmon, avocado, hazelnut and cream cheese are visually appealing but buried under a pile of baby leaf salad. Fortunately the flavours and textures are just as appealing.

Twice-cooked crisp-skin duck ($34) is a revelation. Achieving that mahogany burnish on the well-trimmed whole leg could make for dry flesh. Not so here Kylie Kwong would approve. The spicy Thai salad, with mint and chilli, and sticky rice are perfect partners.

Desserts rise above the predictable. After just two entrees even the dark chocolate semifreddo ($14.50) shouldn't be too much. A cylinder of almost frozen chocolate ganache is topped with creamy amaretto mousse and a triangle of dark chocolate but the crisp chocolate macaroon threatens to break a tooth.

Tropical fruit trio ($14.50) is reassuringly light. The fresh pink papaya sorbet is not big on flavour but the fine slice of sweet pineapple underneath, the lemon custard tartlet with its crown of finely sliced mango, and the coconut panna cotta with pineapple and mint salsa more than compensate.

Jonah was eaten by a big fish. At Jonah's on the Beach you're more likely to eat one. And it's likely to be just as good as the view.

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