SA Michelin star serves top SA wines at SA restaurant in France
THERE WAS much twittering in SA food and wine circles at the news that a South African restaurant called Jan in the city of Nice on the French Riviera had earned a star in the highly respected Michelin guide – one star indicative of ‘very good’ cuisine, two stars pronouncing ‘excellent’ and three stars denoting ‘exquisite’, a dining establishment considered to be among the very best of its kind in the world. Such are the high standards required for inclusion in the Michelin restaurant guide that (even) one star is considered a huge achievement, a major accolade, and in a part of the country where there are said to be over 1600 eateries, there were only 117 that Michelin deemed worthy of reviewing and only 23 got their inspectors’ nod of approval announced early-Feb 2016 – 19 receiving one star, three awarded two stars and only one lauded with the ultimate rating.
The executive chef and co-owner of the fine-dining restaurant ‘Jan’ is a foodie who grew up in Middelburg and began honing his cooking skills in Stellenbosch before travelling the world, writing and taking photographs when not busy in the kitchen… Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen is also an author and was scheduled to visit South Africa in March 2016 for the publication of his second recipe book: Jan – A Breath of French Air. As the Michelein inspectors commented, the man once sought after as a chef on private yachts in Monaco and who used to work for a food magazine has set up an intimate, romantic little restaurant near the port in Nice.
There is often melktert and biltong included among the dishes and the boss is not the only South African chef on board – Kevin Grobler and Rutger Eysvogel having recently joined the team. It’s a seasonal-based tasting menu (€75 to €115 / about R2000 per person). “There is no a la carte menu,” says Jan Hendrik, adding that there’s an optional cheese course and a sommelier to assist with wine pairing. “Our philosophy of serving modern French plates inspired by the markets of the South of France will guarantee you a choice of regularly-changing fresh produce prepared to the utmost perfection.”
The winelist changes with the menu and the South African bottlings feature leading brands such as (Klein Constantia) Vin de Constance, Hamilton Russel Chardonnay, Bouchard Finlayson, Jordan, Ken Forrester, Boekenhoutskloof and De Toren. There is also Org de Rac Reserve Shiraz and Chardonnay, as well as Zevenwacht, Hermanuspietersfontein, Stellenbosch Hills, Allesverloren, Creation and Dalla Cia. The most popular bubble has been Org de Rac La Verne Méthode Cap Classique, although as for Champagne, Jan serves Henriot from Reims. Exclusively!
“Overall, we have an international selection of wines with the majority French and South African. Travel from New Zealand with Walnut Block to Argentina with Domaine Bousquet, while stopping in the United States with FF Coppola. Taking a trip to Spain is easy with Ijalba, and soon enough you get to Italy with fresh Prosecco from Tuscany. As for France, the idea was to have some of the unusual appellations such as Vin de Pays du Gard with Roc d’Anglade, Vin de Pays de l’Hérault with Terrasse d’Elise… Not forgetting some of our favourites such as Saint-Joseph with Domaine Faury, Riesling with Dopff au Moulin, Côteaux de l’Aubance with Domaine de Bablut, Nuits-Saint-Georges with Bouchard Père et Fils, Moulin-à-Vent with Thibault Liger-Belair, Saint-Estèphe with Ormes de Pez, Haut-Médoc with Sociando Mallet, Pessac-Leognan with La Parde de Haut-Bailly and Palette with Chateau Crémade.”