Where’s best in Penarth for a leisurely lunch on a wet Wednesday afternoon? I nominate the fabulous Chez Francis. Having recently worked with Welsh national treasure Ivor Davies, I wished to thank him with a memorable meal; a fluent French speaker, and a native to Penarth, he’d never been to Chez Francis.
I, on the other hand, still dreamt of the French Onion Soup and Tart Tatin I’d tasted at Francis Dupuy’s original restaurant in Canton. Keen to discover how the recently-opened Penarth branch compared, I must say, I was most impressed. The restaurant is located in a quiet spot on Glebe Street, a stone’s throw from busy Windsor Road. Raphael , at front of house, was an attentive host, who happily guided us through the 2 courses for £19.95 lunch menu.
Ivor’s soup of the day – a seasonal vegetable broth - was a heart-warming start to the meal. My onion tart was a bittersweet treat, served with lightly dressed salad leaves. The rich puff pastry was artfully undercut by a sharp balsamic glaze. A cool, full-bodied, glass of Picpoul de Pinet was the perfect white wine selection with both dishes.
The main course was rather a no-brainer choice for us both, as we eagerly plumped for the coq au vin, served with mashed potato. As the rich red-wine stew coated the succulent chicken, the meat fell off the bone like a dream. There is nothing more comforting on a rainy weekday than this perennial French menu favourite. Too stuffed for dessert, we vowed to return to sample further menu delights. This is traditional French cooking, with a warm Welsh twist, brought to the table with great heart and integrity. Chez Francis Penarth retains the charm of its original branch, and offers another home away from home.
21 Glebe St, Penarth CF64
1EE. tel. 029 2070 2429