The neighbourhood surrounding Nice’s picturesque port was once a sleepy, residential quarter, populated primarily by Italians seeking easy access over the border east of here. Yet over the past year, restaurants, boutiques and bars – all of them nestled into these unassuming backstreets – are opening by the dozen.
Restaurant Jan is the newest addition to this now-lively neighbourhood. The eponymous eatery of South African chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen, it’s already become established as a place of local foodie pilgrimage.
As former food editor of Elle Magazine and executive chef for champagne house Piaff, Jan Hendrik has long possessed a deep passion for fresh, regional cuisine. But how did he come to choose Nice for his restaurant? And more specifically, why this area of Nice?
“Nice reminded me a lot of Cape Town. Coincidentally, the two are also sister cities. It’s a ‘down to earth’ city, with real people who like to eat well and believe in seasonal produce”, Jan tells Nice Pebbles.
“At the moment the port is a very up-and-coming area, with lots of new restaurants and bars opening. It appealed to me immediately. We are as excited as our clients to be in this very chic, hip and beautiful part of Nice.”
Meals begin with a loaf of Jan Hendrik’s homemade bread, served up on a Provençal olive wood platter. Entrees, including wild mushroom soup with feta and baby spinach, are followed by sumptuous mains, such as line-caught sea bass atop butternut and sage lasagne.
A word to the wise: be sure to save room for dessert. Jan Hendrik is a master pâtisserie chef. On a recent visit we revelled in his elaborate pumpkin creme brûlée, pistachio praline, coconut crumble and salted caramel ice cream. His rooibos jelly is a subtle nod to his South African roots.
Pop in at lunchtime and this Michelin-level cuisine is available as the market-fresh Menu Marché. And what a bargain it is. Sample the daily entree and main course for €22, entree and dessert for €18, or indulge in all three courses for €26.