I’ve blogged about Jonathan’s Kitchen and Komatose several times before, but these two properties have a knack of constantly re-inventing themselves and surprising patrons. Chef Vijay Bhasker Reddy, who initially helmed the kitchen at Jonathan’s, is back at the property. Chef Vijay and his team have spent the past several weeks conceptualising and perfecting an array of new dishes for the annual refresh of the Jonathan’s Kitchens menu. The new menu went live on 1st April, but I got an opportunity to try several of its highlights over multiple tasting and feedback sessions held during the past month.
Jonathan’s Kitchen has beefed up the Indian appetiser selection with a host of interesting new options. The Murgh ke Parchey, an Awadhi preparation featuring a rustic ginger-garlic and curd marinade, is quite simply sublime. What makes a Parchey stand out is the use of slender cuts of chicken breast (resembling a piccata) that enables the marinade to permeate through and cook evenly. Another surprise on the menu is the Tandoori Quail. I’m not a huge fan of quail because it’s a game bird that often has little flesh. But, the Quail being served at Jonathan’s Kitchen is positively delightful – big, juicy, chunks of meat perfectly smoked in the tandoor. Another highlight from the grills is the gorgeous Grilled Pomfret that’s cooked over charcoal. Peshawar’s famous Chapli Kebab (lamb patties) has travelled across the border to find a spot on the JK menu. While many of the new signatures are targetted at the local palate, the menu is still quite global with a mix of Oriental and Western dishes. Some of my favourites like Welsh Rarebit and the Shrimp Cocktail made the cut, while others like Foccacia with Olive Melt and Borscht weren’t so lucky.
The Sushi selection has also undergone a refresh, and is now a part of the main menu instead of being an addendum. The signature Shawar Maki has been dropped in favour a Chicken Teriyaki Roll, but the Volcano featuring crab sticks and avocado has been retained. There are only a couple of options featuring fish – Salmon Uramaki and Tuna Nigiri. I enjoyed the latter, but the former was pretty forgettable. The new sushi menu aims to make sushi palatable and enjoyable for a wider audience, but won’t appeal to the sushi lovers. The Crispy Veg Uramaki was almost universally appreciated by vegetarians on the table. For eggetarians, there’s also a variant with Veg Uramaki wrapped in egg and spicy mayo.
Salads have always been a strength of Jonathan’s, and the new menu introduces a couple of more signatures. The Kale and Melon with lemon zest and dry fruits is perfect for the summer, while the Creamy Burrata is for the times you are feeling indulgent. My first tryst with the Burrata was at the Deccan Pavillion, and my love affair with this amazing cheese continued at Jonathan’s. Burrata is essentially a double layered cheese with a creamy centre surrounded by Mozzarella. The salad presents the Burrata with refreshing and light ingredients like marinated Tomatoes, Arugula, Pesto, and Olive Oil that complement it beautifully.
There are several of new additions to the Italian section including vegetarian delights like Corn and Spinach Ravioli and Spinach Tomato Confit with Risotto. My favourite, however, is the Mushroom and Ricotta stuffed Agnolotti. I was introduced to this classical Pasta from Piedmont region of Italy by Chef Roberto Boggio. It’s less fancy than a Ravioli or a Tortellini but tastes quite sublime. A small quantity of stuffing is usually piped into egg pasta sheets, which are sealed and cut, and cooked in a water bath. Agnolotti is among the few variants of pasta that are usually served without any sauce (or with a very simple sauce); the flavour of the filling is allowed to take centre stage. However, the egg-heavy pasta sheets can become dry quickly; they are often served covered in a pristine white napkin to avoid exposure to the atmosphere. Perhaps to work around this, Jonathan’s is serving the Agnolotti in a bed of garlic cream. While this does reduce a bit of the charm of an Agnolotti, it is still an absolutely fabulous dish.
One of my gripes with Hyderabad is the sheer dearth of good quality of steaks. Most of the places that have steak on the menu, inevitably overcook it even if you request a medium-rare. Some even go to the extent of refusing to serve anything less than a medium! My experience with steaks at Jonathan’s Kitchen has been inconsitent. However, Chef Vijay floored me with the newly introduced Fillet Mignon. The solid chunk of well-rested meat with a beautiful and tender centre is steak every lover’s dream. Will the kitchen be able to deliver the same quality when the executive chef is not around? That remains a question yet to be answered. Meat lovers have another treat in store for them in the new menu. Ossobuco alla Milanese or Veal Shanks. The meat is remarkably soft and tender – even when slightly overcooked – and the wine sauce is yum!
The excellent Blueberry Cheesecake and Lemon Tart in the dessert section have now been joined by a decadent Rev Velvet Tre Leches and Ghevar. Both are excellent additions to the menu, but could use minor tweaks. Ghevar, a popular dessert from Rajasthan, is quite good but the balance of the dish is a little skewed due to the sweet Rabri. The Tres Leche, on the other hand, feels too much like a Red Velvet cake. The cake is excellent, but couldn’t quite replicate the satisfaction of biting into a soft, spongy milk soaked cake that just melts in your mouth.
The new menu at Jonathan’s Kitchen is fresh and creative, but perhaps more importantly, has something to offer for everyone. There’s Khao Suey and Gyoza , there’s Burrata and Agnolotti, and there’s Murgh Parchey and Ghevar. And, of course, several of the previous signatures like Carpaccio and Blacked Salmon are still on the menu. Jonathan’s has been one of my most frequented restaurants over the past couple of years, and the new menu gives me plenty of new reasons to head back.