Cafe Des Amis

CAFÉ DES AMIS  - 8 Washington Buildings Penarth 02920709600

I have been kicking myself recently as there is an absolute little gem of a restaurant in Penarth which, until relatively recently, I had ignored. I have now made up for the folly of my ways by visiting four or five times in the last couple of months!

This is Café des Amis which, as you will see from the photograph, is a pretty little place with some outside seating and folding doors which have come into their own in the last couple of weeks!

The premises started off as a sandwich bar several years ago, then expanded into the inevitable coffee shop before converting to what is now an excellent bistro with real French atmosphere. There are only a few tables which makes it intimate and the decoration, pictures and finishing touches give you the feeling that you could be sitting just in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.

There is good length menu which is supplemented every day by a good size Specials Board with extra starters and main courses. There are a number of French influenced starters just as moules and homemade duck pate which comes in its own little jar, as well as some other interesting starters such as seared calves liver and belly pork with brandy apples. We have had sardines a couple of times which come with a very tasty dressing and gave us a bit of a summery feeling even though it was pouring outside! All starters are around £7.00/£8.00.

The mains are very bistro style also, always with a steak, a sirloin or a rump usually, and an excellent rump of lamb. The guinea fowl has looked good on occasions and the pork tenderloin has gone down well. One clever idea is that the dishes which are on the main menu are also on the Specials Board but with a different sauce or finish. For example on our last visit CDC and I both had duck breast, one with a black peppercorn sauce and the other on an unusual bed of rhubarb and ginger, decorated with whole cherries – just that something a little bit different.

Overall, however, the menu is not narrow and there is an interesting King Prawn and Salmon dish with ginger and soy dressing. There is always a good selection of fish, including monk fish and hake. Mains come in around about £15.00/£18.00.

There is also an excellent house wine at £12.95 and some other interesting bottles up to about £20.00.

Desserts appear to be mainly homemade and include the Frenchest of all French desserts- Crepes Suzette! The sauce here is appropriately boozy but with a nice sweet and sour finish.

I understand that the Chef, Damian, trained at Llandough Hospital – I bet the patients wish he was still there! He’s obviously still mindful of his NHS background as his servings of vegetables certainly satisfy your 5-a-day requirement! The Parmentier style potatoes may not be so healthy but are really good.

Café Des Amis is open all day for breakfasts, coffees and cake (if you must) with a very reasonably priced lunchtime menu. To get a thrifty taste of this great Gallic atmosphere, try the offers of Steak and Frites with a glass of wine (£9.95 – 6.00 – 7.30pm weekdays) or Moules and Frites and a glass (£12.95 - lunchtime and evening).

So, mes amis, repair vitement to the Café des Amis but don’t take my table in the window!


Richard Fisher

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