Restaurant Spotlight: Chez François

Classic French dining at a small-town institution

Restaurant Spotlight: Chez François
The team at Chez François, which includes hospitality specialist Omar Rivera, wine director Matthew Mars and hospitality specialist Evan Cecil, has continued a scaled-down version of their takeout program, with dishes like braised Heritage pork shank. (Courtesy of Chez François)
Oct 8, 2020

Forty miles west of Cleveland, in Vermilion, Ohio, Chez François has been dishing up classic French cuisine for decades, garnering national recognition along the way. Earning its first Wine Spectator Award of Excellence in 1992, Chez François was eventually upgraded to a Best of Award of Excellence in 2015 for its wine list of more than 700 selections managed by co-owner and wine director Matthew Mars. His picks are strongest in French regions including Bordeaux and Burgundy, with additional emphasis on California, Italy and Port.

When the coronavirus pandemic forced Chez François to suspend indoor dining in March, the restaurant quickly converted to takeaway service, offering Chez to Go: three-course prix-fixe menus crafted weekly by chef and co-owner John D’Amico. The restaurant sold nearly 300 dinners in one night, resulting in a small-town traffic jam as customers waited to pick up their orders.

In May, Chez François resumed service in its indoor space, which boasts a scenic waterfront setting, sandwiched between Main Street and the Vermilion River. Beloved staples like French onion soup and escargots are back for on-site enjoyment, but for guests who aren’t yet comfortable with that option, the restaurant will arrange a takeaway option by request. Chez François has also been supplementing the extensive dine-in offerings with a variety of wine dinners, like an upcoming event highlighting Napa’s PlumpJack.

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