By Shawna Wagman Photography by Rémi Thériault
In 2010, Marysol Foucault opened a little sandwich bar in Gatineau called Chez Edgar. Almost overnight, the 11-seat food shop — more like a gastropub disguised as a girly lunch counter — quietly became a gourmet destination, attracting fans from both sides of the river. Long weekend lineups were one reason Foucault sought a second location. Another was her desire to serve dinner.
She found a spot with a closed kitchen and a large patio located five minutes’ drive away and, in May, opened the restaurant Odile. Not much bigger and no closer to downtown, Odile is another oasis of taste in a neighbourhood built for utility. Like Edgar, it’s a place where Foucault can express her passion for beauty and balance, freshness and seasonality, and the significance of tiny details.
In an interview conducted just weeks after she opened her second new business in two years, the entrepreneur displays the confidence of a mother who has just given birth to her second child — she has been through all this before but now possesses greater wisdom to deal with the challenges. “We have people who come in and they don’t want their potatoes to touch their eggs,” she says. “Now I have learned to just say no to things.” She describes her struggle to make customers understand the limitations of her small restaurants and the difficulty of accommodating personal requests. “We had to explain that we thought of this dish and that every single component in it had a relationship to the rest. That was what made every one shine.”
Like at Edgar, Odile’s menu is concise and changes weekly, but Foucault’s approach to Odile seems grounded in the conviction that we must come to terms with our limits. Looking up at the work of art she created for the new space, Foucault becomes wistful. It’s an old-fashioned player piano roll upon which she has created a timeline decorated with a constellation of pins and fine red thread. “It’s about time and memories. These happen in clusters,” she explains. “Sometimes there’s a lot happening and other times less. They all make you what you are.” Odile, 47, rue Montclair, Gatineau (Hull sector), 819-205-4425.