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First taste: Janse & Co on Kloof Street – reviewed

Chef Arno Janse van Rensburg, previously of 2016 Top 10 restaurant The Kitchen at Maison, brings his culinary expertise to Janse & Co, a new casual fine-dining restaurant in the heart of Cape Town.

Trout and buttermilk. Photo by Rupesh Kassen.

Fast facts

Serves: Adventurous, upmarket cuisine
Cost: R385 for three courses, R485 for four, R585 for five, R685 for six, R785 for seven
Best for: A fine-dining experience for well-heeled food lovers
Parking: Janse & Co is located in the heart of bustling Kloof Street, so it’s best to catch a taxi or Uber
Star rating: Food 3, service 5, ambience 5

Arno heads up this new venture with partner and pastry chef Liezl Odendaal, previously of Weylandts and Ellerman House. The space, which briefly housed YUZU Kitchen & Bar, has been completely transformed. Arno’s attention to detail and authenticity shows not only through his food, but shines through in this impeccably decorated space.

The interior at Janse & Co. Photo supplied.

Food

The chef’s passion for seasonal and foraged ingredients is showcased in small dishes comprising two or three star ingredients. 20 options on the flexible tasting menu can be enjoyed in three to seven courses in a well-balanced range of vegetarian, seafood and meat dishes and desserts.

The bread sets the scene. Photo by Rupesh Kassen.

The experience begins with a bread course: ciabatta and cracker bread infused with whispers of the sea and earth. Local flavours like seaweed, buchu and caraway seed are subtly pronounced and served with a generous dollop of whipped olive oil. This sets the scene for the simplicity and clever play on flavours for the courses that lie ahead.

An opening plate of pressed and thinly shaved watermelon follows, topped with fermented cocoa nibs and beetroot kvass (a Slavic fermented drink) poured at the table. The dish is finished with duckweed and plays on the true flavours of summer.

Shaved watermelon. Photo by Rupesh Kassen.

An elegant plate of sous-vide trout arrives next, surrounded by home-made buttermilk and topped with trout roe and rose petals. This picture-perfect dish with floral notes and soft flavours delivers more on visual appeal and leaves me searching for more of a pronounced flavour.

In contrast, the 10-hour rolled suckling pig, with crispy crackling, bok choy, kimchi broth and lentil sprouts, is three mouthfuls of sheer joy. My only complaint is that there isn’t more of this sterling dish.

The pecan-themed pud. Photo by Rupesh Kassen.

A sweet ending of local pecans and buttermilk ice cream with tart gooseberries is the star of the show, and a superb way to complete the experience.

Drinks

The well-curated and reasonable wine list offers an interesting selection of Cape wines, including favourites like Fram chardonnay and Waterkloof Wild Ferment merlot. A range of cocktails, beers and non-alcoholic drinks like vanilla-peach kombucha and lemon-ginger kvass is sure to cater to every palate.

The stylish interior, complete with mural. Photo supplied.

Service

Warm, friendly and extremely knowledgeable staff members are in tune to diners’ needs without being intrusive.

Ambience

The contemporary Janse & Co space has been designed with different dining areas. You are welcomed by a floral mural into the first area with a harvest table that can seat 18 guests. Here you can marvel at the house-made charcuterie display and wine selection. The main dining areas give a full view of the hot and cold kitchens. Summer days and nights are best enjoyed dining alfresco in the courtyard, under large trees and surrounded by a hanging garden of herbs used in the kitchen.

The sous vide trout. Photo supplied.

And…

The restaurant is only a few weeks old, but holds great promise for an upscale experience on buzzing Kloof Street.

Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full.

Have you been to Janse & Co yet? Tell us about it in a review and we will pledge a meal for a hungry child through Rise Against Hunger SA. Write a review and feed a child now.

Another pudding at Janse & Co. Photo supplied.

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