By Paula Roy –
It was a certain je ne sais quoi about Westboro that caught the eye of the team behind the new Mamie Clafoutis café and bakery. Co-managers Sophie Gourves and her husband Gregory Cossec both hail from France and say they were attracted to the area because of its diversity of shops and the family-oriented, active lifestyle they observed on their scouting missions last year. The former American Apparel store at the corner of Roosevelt Avenue and Richmond Road offered a spacious, light-filled venue for the ten-year-old company based in Montreal to establish its first location outside of Quebec.
A quick peek inside Mamie Clafoutis, which opens the afternoon of May 15, suggests they’ve read the neighbourhood right, as they’ve created a warm, family-friendly space in which to offer a mix of healthy and decadent fare. “Ottawa is very different than Montreal but we are confident people here appreciate good food,” says Sophie. “Our co-owners and company founders, Nicolas Delourmel and Joseph Sabatier, felt Ottawa was a good place for the ninth Mamie Clafoutis location because French culture is stronger here than in other parts of Ontario and its proximity to Montreal will make things easier from a logistical perspective.”
The ever-changing menu at Mamie Clafoutis is sure to enjoy broad appeal, for those who choose to enjoy their purchases in the shop or the ‘grab and go’ crowd. As befits a traditional French boulangerie, there is an abundance of artisanal breads, from baguette to rustic wholegrain loaves to ficelle, fougasse, pretzels and more. Pastries both sweet and savoury offer a tempting array of choices, including buttery croissants, both plain and fancy. An array of sandwiches, including vegetarian-friendly options, as well as quiches, soups and salads make for great lunch or supper offerings. Desserts include the aforementioned pastries plus chocolate mousse, tarts, pies, clafoutis and more. Everything is made in-house and flavours will shift with the seasons, confirms Sophie. Mamie Clafoutis’ beverage menu consists of coffee –made from beans roasted just for them – as well as tea, fresh juice, and iced tea.
The cheerful décor includes comfy couches, bistro tables and a beautifully-appointed children’s play area. Colourful French-inspired knick-knacks share shelf space with packaged sweets and house-made take-home muffin mixes while a cut out interior window affords a glimpse of the spacious kitchen. As the space was being fit up, they finally had to start locking the exterior door as they faced a growing number of eager would-be customers attempting to come into the shop and make a purchase.
Mamie Clafoutis will be open seven days a week, from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends. While there are no weekend brunch plans in the works yet, Sophie says it is something they are looking into once they get fully settled into the new location.
“We will be having some special events including product tastings shortly after we open the store,” notes Sophie. “We are excited for people in Ottawa to discover how delicious our products, prepared using the traditional techniques of the classic French bakery, truly are.”
As for the name, Mamie Clafoutis represents everyone’s grandmother, rather than an actual person. The name is intended to conjure up cherished memories of the sights, smells and warmth of time spent cooking with one’s grandmother, or enjoying as a family the meals she prepared. With a nod to clafoutis, the iconic French dessert, Mamie Clafoutis is all about relishing good food in a convivial environment.