November 5, 2013
Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen, after training as a cook in his native South Africa, in 2006 moved to France where he had a variety of jobs He opened his own restaurant, Jan, in Nice in September 2013. Linda and I went for dinner a month later, on October 29, 2013.
Jan is located two blocks north of the Old Port in Nice in an area with many small restaurants. Its newly decorated dining room is welcoming. The tables are well-spaced.
We started with glasses of Henriot Brut Champagne while we looked at the fairly limited menu. As usual, we ordered the Menu Degustation.
The wine list is quite small and varied. We ordered a bottle of 2005 Vergelegen G.V.B., an 88% Cabernet wine from South Africa. Philippe Foucault, the genial Maître d’hôtel, put it into a carafe for us and it opened up nicely.
The first course was
Noix de Saint-Jacques poêlées aux cèpes, croquette de haddock fumé, sauce au persil, pommes de terres violettes
The scallops were first rate, fresh and flavorful; perfectly seared. On top was a smoked haddock croquette; underneath were sautéed cèpes. The parsley sauce and blue potato slices went well.
Pêche du jour, sauce au soja, câpres, poivrons et tomates séchées, oignons croustillants
The fish of the day was tuna. The crisp onion rings were very good, but the many capers underneath were a salty excessive garnish.
Filet de pintade, purée de châtaigne dorée au foin, foie gras, grains et baies sauvages, rhubarbe
Slices of guinea hen were on top of a coarse chestnut purée with various rich enhancements. Very good.
Fourme d’Ambert, poire pochée au vin rouge, barbe à papa à la fraise.
Fourme d’Ambert, a mild blue cheese, was served with a small pear poached in red wine, a candied kumquat and strawberry cotton candy.
Fruits rouges frais, parfait au citron, sorbets fraise, rhubarbe et mûre
Red currants, blueberries and blackberries were served with a lemon cream and little scoops of strawberry, rhubarb and blackberry sorbets.
Moelleux au caramel, compotée de coing et gingembre, miel en rayon, glace à la vanille faite main
A delicious caramel spongecake was served with a quince and ginger jam, honey and housemade vanilla ice cream. The chef told us that this was his mother’s recipe.
We enjoyed the meal very much. The chef clearly has talent. He uses top quality ingredients and we hope will resist a temptation to overly garnish them.
We think that Jan is a fine addition to the Nice dining scene and hope that it succeeds.