Friday, March 16, 2012

Ex Pat Lives - The Citrus

Joanne and Chris in their restaurant , The Citrus
Cabestany, a suburb of Perpignan, where I live in France, has a population of approx 10,000 souls and had everything you can imagine in the way of facilities ; Excellent schools, a thriving cultural centre, a fantastic new gym, a well stocked wine cave ( very important!), a butcher, a baker and a candlestick maker ... but no restaurant!!! There were a couple of bars in the centre ville where all the crusty losers hung out but nowhere to go for a nice bite to eat locally.
So you can imagine our delight when a new restaurant opened up a stone's throw from our house ... and our surprise to find an Irish woman at the helm.
Joanne Lucey from Malahide in Dublin came to to France to learn the language .. she had background school French but wanted to live here for a year to improve it. Within the first few months here, she met her future husband Chris ( originally from Bordeaux)  and so her years stay in the country turned into 2, then 3....then 20 !!! After passing the 'casting' in Dublin for Disneyland Paris , She was hired as a 'demi-chef de partie' in the kitchens of the Disneyland hotel.
She progressed her way up through the ranks to become one of the few female Disney sous chefs in the resort hotels.

"In August 2009 we took a 2 year leave of absence from Disney to allow us to set up our own business. We originally left Paris for a project in Nimes. We were there for 10 months, but the project fell through & so we continued our research. Within that time we had begun to appreciate the southern lifestyle ( not to mention the weather) & so continued to look in the area. Not finding what we wanted, and without any particular attachment to Nimes, we continued looking further & further down along the coast until we came across an ad for a restaurant to rent in Cabestany.... " they moved to Saint Nazaire with their son Corey and the rest is history...
October 2010 saw the opening of The Citrus restaurant (much to our delight!). She is  the chef and Chris is front of house.
"Its a buffet restaurant with the starters & desserts à la carte. We don't have a set menu. The dishes change from day to day for all of the courses, depending on the market and the season (as all of our produce is fresh & home-made) The only concept that remains unchanged is the hot buffet which always has 2 meat dishes, fresh fish & 4 garnishes - potatoe, veg, rice, pasta. We always have a home-made bread ( soda bread, corn bread, wholemeal....) which can also be ordered for take-away along with a selection of tarts & salads." enthuses Dublin born Joanne
For those who don't like buffets ( I'm not a huge fan myself), this really is a 5 star buffet and well worth the visit and after indulging in a few tasty lunches there, I can vouch for it's freshness and quality. In the long hot summer months they offer a self service salad bar & a large salad of the day which really is delicious, served out on their sunny terrace with some homemade lemonade. Nom nom nom.. They also do a fab brunch on Sunday mornings with the full Monty ; bacon, sausages, eggs etc - A very new concept for the Catalans, that is going down extremely well..
"After opening we advertised in several different guide books & tourist books,but the word of mouth has proved itself to be the best publicity so far" says Joanne
A lovely addition to the PO lunch scene, you can be assured a very warm welcome at the Citrus. We are all going there for Paddy's night ( booked out) where she has a mouth watering Irish menu lined up for us. You can also book the venue for private functions.

4 route de Perpignan
Tel : 0468631690


  1. Looks fab, will definitely make a reservation next time we're down your way. Shame St Pat's day is booked.

  2. Let me know when that is and I'll join you!

  3. Best restaurant around !!! Christophe and Joanne are very sympathetic. Food is lovely. I recommand this restaurant to people who like fresh, tasty food. We personally go there often when kids eat at school... good way to spend nice time just the two of us... but we also take them with us on special occasions... or for a treat. A charming restaurant for all the family. Don't miss out on the sunday brunch... a great experience ! Many thanks and good luck to the Citrus Restaurant !!!
    Laurence, JP and the kids

  4. Thanks for your comment Laurence, your English is excellent! Haven't tried the Brunch yet but will do soon.


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