The discovery of Cape Town’s hidden restaurants has become something of a sport for me. I love Joburg and its growing number of new restaurants – my latest being Saint at the newly built Marc in Sandton, but Cape Town though…
Spoilt for choice is what we are. From the hole-in-the-wall type of places that barely have seating, to the more gourmand haute cuisine establishments, and everything else in between, Cape Town has it all. Watch this space, I may just become that person who starts saying things like: ‘Well, we have the mountain and the ocean…’
Seriously though, newly arrived and feeling like a kid in a candy store, I am loving the discoveries. Last week I made reservations for Janse & Co. which is located in some nondescript part of Kloof Street, sandwiched between 77 on Kloof (home to those beautiful multi-coloured bean bags and merchandise by Ashanti ) and Yours Truly a delightful courtyard under jacaranda trees, that serves up light meals, pizza and beer in the afternoons. The restaurant’s signage is on the door but is so discreet it is missable. This is what made the discovery of the venue feel like some secret dining adventure.
Janse & Co. bills itself as casual fine dining, and it is. Minimalistic Scandinavian-inspired decor. One colour palette across the entire restaurant. Black. With the only contrast being some of the oak tables. It looked ordered, though not intimidating at all. It was fairly quiet, but I learned that the evenings are when it is particularly busy. One of the hostesses told us that for some reason they were written up as a restaurant that serves dinner, and they have become a ‘dinner’ restaurant. But, she was emphatic that they serve both lunch and dinner. They have a small courtyard at the back, which was beautiful on that day – I can imagine it looks magical in the evenings – with its fairy lights and the canopy created by the trees.
The service was outstanding. Chef Arno Janse van Rensburg has created a haven for fine dining without all the fuss. It’s the type of place you can meet friends for lunch and be guaranteed haute cuisine in a relaxed laid-back environment. This just adds to the pleasure of dining here. We ordered the charcuterie board, which was large enough to share, so immediately started off feeling like gluttons. That didn’t stop us though – we were there the for the food after all. There is a choice of two to five courses from the menu of eight dishes (nine including the off-the-menu special that was also offered). We went to town trying almost everything on the menu, and because the portions are a size above those tiny tasting-menu portions, our selection of four and five respectively was more than satisfactory.
From creative options like fermented carrot served with crème fraîche, popped sorghum and fynbos, to cured bream with passionfruit, samphire, and gem lettuce. Then there was the so-very-tender lamb confit, the delicately pan-fried line fish with peas, wood sorrel and turnip, and a delicious kale, ricotta and pancetta salad. Dessert of cheesecake, passionfruit, and pineapple, and a plate just named: Banana. Caramel. Peanut – which had a selection of bits of brittle, some meringue, mousse and ice-cream, all inspired by those three ingredients. Some hours later after more wine, food coma induced, two very happy foodies reluctantly left the restaurant. An amazing experience that will have to be repeated. Their menu changes regularly, so I am very keen to go and taste what new creations the chef and his amazing team will dream up.
Their wine list is extensive, and they have a wide selection from small private estates that don’t often feature on the average wine list. Reservations are recommended for dinner, but lunch can easily accommodate walk-ins.
Janse & Co. 75 Kloof Street, Gardens, Cape Town. Tel: +27 21 422 0384.