With all the hype around the first South African chef-owned restaurant to be awarded a Michelin star, Jan Hendrik’s venue was a must-try while recently visiting the French Rivera, and it did not disappoint!
Situated near the port in Nice, in an up and coming area, the attention to detail in the restaurant is awe-inspiring. From the décor, including the dark blue walls, to the subtle branding, Riedel glasses and the charming, well-informed hand-picked staff, not forgetting the Jan van Riebeek cushions.
We chose the Carte Blanche six course menu paired with wines, which exceed all culinary expectations. The food, which is complex and rich in flavours, was creative, imaginative and contemporary and complemented by some of the most exciting wines produced in Europe. Personally, the pea, salmon and lemon macarons, with caviar and gold leaf for finishing touches, was one of our favourites.
The South Africa flavours on the menu were the mosbolletjies and the take home packet of rusks.
Wine-wise, the favourite was, the Bachelet – Monnot Maranges 1er Cru 2012 from Burgundy, with its dark yellow colour, citrus and strong lime flavours on the nose and dry, crisp lemon undertones on the taste. The wines were presented by sommelier Michael Schmitt, who works alongside Jan Hendrik in developing the wine list, suggesting and pairing wines that will best compliment the food. He was shortly departing on a trip to South Africa to explore the Hemel-en-Aarde wine area.
Interestingly, I noticed that if you were a local patron or visiting from other parts of Europe, the food was paired with South Africa wines. We as South Africans, were served wines from Europe.
And then of course, there is Jan Hendrik himself, who popped into the restaurant towards the end of our meal, with fresh produce from the market. He is charmingly personable and it completed a wonderful experience to have a conversation with this modest man who is carrying the flag for South Africa.