REVIEW: JANSE & CO

Our restaurant of the month: Janse & Co

Where: 75 Kloof Street, Gardens, Cape Town

What: Casual Fine Dining

Capetonians are in for a treat. Or if you’re visiting the Mother City for business or play, and looking for a fresh upscale but not too formal dining experience, Janse & Co is highly recommended. It’s been seven days since our first experience here and we wish it could be a weekly haunt.

Perfectly and neatly tucked in a corner on the ever-buzzing Kloof Street, this exquisitely stylish eatery is ideal for closing that business deal, or for an intimate catch-up with a friend, date-night, private event or just a quiet solo lunch or dinner. There is something quite special about this place. Every single detail from the buttoned-up friendly staff to chic décor, to the special menu boxes, unique cutlery, and even the napkins, but more especially the food – has been carefully considered. Sustainability, authenticity and sheer quality reign supreme here. The bonus is, the menu changes often, so it will always feel like the first time.

Janse & Co is still a baby, it has only been open for four months. The owner, however, is a renowned name in the Franschhoek food scene, where he spent six years perfecting his culinary craft as the head chef at The Kitchen at Maison.

 

 

 

Arno Janse Van Rensburg dreamed of owning his own restaurant one day. This life-long dream finally happened in December 2017. Arno runs the business with his wife and business partner, Liezl Odendaal. They have been together since they were students. “I think most chefs would love to own their own restaurant one day, it gives one a bit more freedom in your everyday work,” says Liezl. Arno and his wife have been together since they were students. Liezl is an equally established chef in her own right. She managed all the Kitchen Café’s for Weylandts, and before that worked at Ellerman House as a pastry chef for three years. Liezl highlighted that it was important to add &Co to the name of the restaurant because they are a team. Yes, we are here for this too, equally yoked in every sense.

As you walk into the restaurant (after making your booking of course), you’re greeted by a large vibrant street art mural of edible flowers, created by local artist Claire Homewood. She did all the wall art at Janse & Co, which you’ll also find in the equally stylish unisex bathrooms. “We would definitely like to change it annually to showcase different ingredients that inspire us,” says Liezl. The idea is to collaborate with different street artists to showcase their work as well.

 

 

The charcoal interior is impeccably stylish yet simple. “We worked with Mardre Meier from Source IBA on the interior. We wanted a simplistic approach where the interior is comfortable and the environment complemented the focus on the food. During the day the restaurant space has a lot of natural light, and in the evening it is a bit more intimate,” explains Liezl.

 

Let’s dive in straight to the food. The main act – which is, let’s admit, what we came for. Just like the wall art, the menu is not set. It’s a seasonal menu where fresh local and seasonal ingredients are ethically and responsibly sourced. You can select a two-course meal at R245 to a five-course meal at R545 for lunch. For dinner, there is a three-course meal for R385 to a seven-course meal at R785.

 

 

We had a three-course meal for lunch. Each dish has three to five ingredients max. A delicious collision of different flavours. This is innovative dining at its most colourful. It’s quite an experience, with dishes such as chicken, with diced, crushed and juicy passionfruit topped with horseradish and kohlrabi or a beef brisket with onion and capers. If you don’t do meat, there is a vegan potato, avocado, kale and seaweed dish. To my surprise, it was insanely delicious. The one I would definitely order again but alas, it might not be on the menu next time.

 

 

 

 

The unconventional techniques used to prepare and present these dishes really stood out. Granadilla pips get crushed and dehydrated and get sprinkled on desserts in this spot. So we did the right thing and shared everything – from starter to the must-have desserts.

And of course, like Gabrielle, we needed more wine, the bubbly kind. There is a vast selection of great Cape wines from Waterkloof Wild Ferment merlot to Kershaw Wooded chardonnay.

Three handclaps for the friendly and knowledgeable staff, and a special shout-out to our waiter JC, who was quite woke and in tune with our needs without being too imposing.

Janse & Co is open on Tuesday evenings for dinner from 6pm – 9pm and on Wednesday to Saturday for lunch from 12:00 to 2pm and for dinner from 6pm – 9pm.

Make a booking or get more info at janseco.com

Photography: Tracey Che’ King, Gugulethu Mkhabela