Just off Port Lympia, close to the Vielle Ville district of Nice is the restaurant Jan. Named after head chef and creator Jan Hendrik, this small Nicoise restaurant offers an exceptional taster menu with subtle South African twists throughout.
Unlike other restaurants along Rue Lascasris, Jan does not have an awning sticking out across the pavement and if it wasn’t for the striking coat of arms style ‘JH‘ on the door we could have walked right past.
Philippe, greeted us as the ‘Maitre d’Hotel’ of Jan and was joined by Michael who would be our Sommelier. This duo completed the front of house team and from the moment they took our coats, we were made to feel incredibly welcome and that we would be in very safe, knowledgeable hands.
The interior of the restaurant was discreetly classy, with perfectly polished silverware, crisp white table cloths and candles throughout. In total, the dining room consisted of 10 tables all elegantly decorated. We were only the third table to sit when we arrived at 20:15 but as the evening progressed, the restaurant soon filled so I would certainly recommend booking in advance. As we sat and awaited the menus, we noticed that there were some quirky elements to our table setting which suggested this would not be a traditional dining experience.
When presented with the menus our suspicions were confirmed, each of the 5 courses were written out by their key ingredients, and that was all; the first starter simply described as; Salmon Mousse - Smoked Salmon - Strawberry - Cucumber. So other than the key ingredients, we had no absolutely no idea how each dish would appear. We were kindly asked if we had any allergies or dietary requirements, and if we would like wine with dinner. After opting for a glass of red each, our menus were removed and the show began.
From our table, we could see right into the kitchen and so really did get a feel for the backstage element of our dinner. It made the experience much more intimate, seeing the chef’s eyes following every dish as they left the pass. The Head chef was a very friendly South African who served a number of dishes, chatting with diners at their tables.
The 5 courses taster menu was preceded by a hot towel and of course, an amuse bouche. Served in a blue willow English teacup and saucer, our first taste for the evening was of leek purée, potato crisp, edible flowers and foam. My mouth was certainly amused, had I been brought out a whole bowl and told that was it for the evening, I would have been more than happy. It was a great sign of even greater things to come.
Our first official course was a fish starter of salmon mousse, bordered by smoked salmon and dressed with a strawberry reduction, cucumber shavings, mozzarella and salmon roe. The plate was garnished with dill, edible flowers and a white crisp. Throughout the evening, each dish was presented by Phillippe with a detailed breakdown of every ingredient that was on the plate.
Course after course, the dishes only improved in quality and taste, each being more interesting and delicious than the last. Highlights included; succulent beef served with chicken liver, mange-tout and truffle foam, presented on a wooden plate, freshly baked bread that had been proving at our table for the first 2 courses, and beetroot sorbet with paprika and pomegranate.
At 79€ per person for 5 courses (plus all the extra courses in between) it felt like very good value. Overall, from the walking through the door to being handed our coats as we left, we felt incredibly well looked after and that it was a true Michelin Star experience, I will certainly be returning to Restaurant Jan.