Unearthing culinary delights in the heart of the Kalahari



Situated amidst the expansive 114,000-hectare Tswalu Kalahari Reserve in the Northern Cape, Klein JAN restaurant takes experiential dining to another level – underground.

The unassuming 100-year-old property is the site of Klein JAN, Chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen’s long-awaited landmark South African restaurant. Rather than drastically altering the quaint tin-roofed frontier house – Boscia House, a visionary decision was made to venture underground, preserving the historic Kalahari farm narrative while adding a modern touch.

Conceived as a tribute to the vital role of water preservation in isolated desert environments, the idea developed to use a reservoir as an underground gateway, via an uplit suspended spiral staircase, allowing guests to embark on a culinary journey into the earth. Spanning 630 square meters across two stories, the meticulously restored Boscia House exudes an alluring blend of charisma and nostalgia, while four metres below ground, an impressive 20-metre-long cellar and a contemporary 20-person restaurant awaits, harmoniously integrated into the natural landscape.

One of the main objectives was to ensure that the restoration of the existing building and excavation of the restaurant upheld the utmost respect for the local fauna and flora, in perfect alignment with Tswalu’s overarching vision of safeguarding the ecosystem and the broader conservation endeavour.

RLB provided cost management and quantity surveying services for this unique, award-winning project.

At a glance

  • Client
    Restaurant Klein JAN
  • Services
    Cost Management & Quantity Surveying
  • sector
    Hotels & Leisure
  • Location
    Northern Cape, South Africa