Besant Nagar gets a new bistro, courtesy the man who brought us Haagen Dazs, Toni & Guy and Casa Piccola
Jonah, the pre-schooler after whom the city’s newest bistro has been named, is the perfect example of a new-age kid — bright, brave and even a tad ambitious. In fact, the five-something lad nods with enthusiasm when asked if his dad, entrepreneur Sam Paul (think Toni & Guy, Haagen Dazs), should rename his other franchises after him. Incidentally, Paul’s first non-franchise F&B venture, Jonah’s, is much like the boy in character. With two glass walls offering a panoramic view of Besant Nagar’s 2nd Avenue, and spotlights bouncing off the goodies in their pastry counter, it definitely is a bright place. With a menu revealing generous use of the word beef (to our delight), it can deservingly be called brave. And finally, with Paul sharing plans for “another three or four” outlets in Chennai (before taking his brand outside the city), it packs a healthy dose of ambition.
Of bake and batter
Over a mid-day meal, Paul shares that he has partnered with Pondicherry-based Baker’s Street to take care of the pastries, breads and desserts that are available at all Jonah’s outlets, under the label Baker’s Home. As for their very European-sounding menu — designed to offer you something all day long — it is the handiwork of The Mad Chef, Koushik Shankar. There’s a small selection of soups, plenty of starters and enough mains to have you trying something new for at least ten subsequent visits. But we ignore all of that and point to the breakfast section, where waffles and maple syrup take pride of place with a selection of omelettes. Delicately sweet, and soft, these waffles are not what you would ideally begin your meal with; but in a place like Jonah’s there are no hard and fast rules to these things. “You can come here for dinner, a meeting with friends or to have a coffee and enjoy our free wifi or books,” Paul points to a narrow book-shelf near the entrance.
As Paul nurses his cold with a creamy French chicken soup — and talks about progress in bringing us a German Doner Kebab QSR chain next — I start carving a wiener schnitzel. The breaded beef fillet (and a large one at that) requires a bit of work from the molars, so you might want to finish when still warm.
And since Paul insists we don’t leave without dessert, I round up a tiramisu, baba au rhum and mini macaroons from the Baker’s Home section, and leave it to my companion, also under the weather like Paul, to nibble on the buttery chicken vol-au-vents that seem to last all through our meal.
Meal for two at approximately Rs. 700. Details: 43511119
— Ryan Peppin