Review: Restaurant Jan in Nice

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On the French Riviera you will be spoiled for choice when it comes to exclusive restaurants with fine cuisine, from Alain Ducasse’s Le Louis XV in Monte Carlo to le Baoli in Cannes. Yet, sometimes you do not have to go to one of the Michelin-starred restaurants to get a truly delightful gourmet food. One such case is a newly opened restaurant Jan, which is located off the old port of Nice. Having opened only nine months ago, this restaurant already has a reputation of one of the best places to eat on the Cote d’Azur, easily beating stiff competition in the area. Luxisto took a trip to the restaurant to taste culinary creations of the eating house of Jan and to talk to the Chef.

Started by Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen, a former food editor of Elle magazine, this eponymous restaurant will surely take you on an exciting culinary journey: from a cucumber ice cream to mint mashed potatoes, Jan Hendrik’s creations will widen your dining horizons. With dark blue walls set against the wooden deck furniture and exceptionally chosen elements of décor, the elegant interior of the restaurant instantly sets you in the right mood. The menu is equally sophisticated with a variety of mouth-watering options to choose from.

As we couldn’t make up our minds as to which dish to go for, we followed the Chef’s suggestions and went for a three-course Menu Marche. The meal started with a homemade loaf of bread, which was served up on an olive wood platter with a generous slice of delicious butter. Chef Jan confessed to us that butter is among his favourite ingredients: “I really like using in my dishes chocolate, cream and butter. “ The appetizer was complemented by a fantastic assortment of South African wines: we had a pleasure of trying white, red and rose wines. This turned into a delightful degustation, which was quickly followed by the divine entrée of a langoustine emulsion with fried scallops, grilled chorizo and potatoes. Next came the main course, which was equally great. The main dish consisted of an astonishing veal steak fillet atop a courgette fritter, served with asparagus and potatoes.

A word of advice: do leave room for the dessert when visiting Jan. We were served an impeccable fusion of two seemingly juxtaposing elements: ice cream and cucumber. Yet, our cucumber ice cream garnished with an orange crumble was the highlight of the meal, leaving us thoroughly impressed. This fantastic fusion of flavours can be attributed to the chef’s masterful patisserie skills. On top of it, Jan likes to experiment with ingredients until something fantastic comes out of it: “I like to play with a variety of ingredients as everything that has to do with food inspires me. That is how I came up with lots of my dishes, such as the cucumber ice cream that you have just had. It was actually added to the menu today.”

Soon after we finished our dessert, the Chef himself came to visit our table, which he does on regular basis. From our experience, it is not that common to be able to come to a restaurant of this level and meet the Chef himself. Jan told us that he, in fact, does it regularly as he really likes the part of meeting Jan’s visitors and hearing their feedback, which is invaluable to him. He also added that the positive synergy at his kitchen allows him to be able to have time for this: “We have a very calm kitchen, with a friendly atmosphere.”

Having enjoyed our trip to the restaurant, we were curious to see what were Jan’s plans for the future. “I cannot answer that question as I like to surprise people,” said Jan. However, we do hope he stays in Nice as his restaurant is a delightful addition to the city’s dining scene.

To learn more about restaurant Jan or to see their menu, visit www.restaurantjan.com

To learn more about the Chef, artist and photographer Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen or about his first book of simple, yet exquisite recipes The French Affair, Tables of Love, visit  www.janhendrik.com

Article by Ann Snesareva