An appreciation for small French luxuries is what ties together the items on the shelves of Chez François like twine around a bouquet of lavender. What binds the customers may be something more primal: pining for fresh, flakey buttery croissants.
The croissants have been luring customers into Westboro’s gourmet boutique since December when husband and wife owners, Jean-Francois Maranda and Viktoriya Melenteva, transplanted the shop to Ottawa from Mont-Tremblant.
It existed for 20 years under the name Plaisirs de Provence, with food entering the business in 2007. The couple owned another shop in Quebec City and one in Montreal before they relocated to Aylmer, Quebec, with the idea of bringing their French import business to the capital city.
While Chez François specializes in typical Provencal housewares, including lovely textiles and tableware, more than half of the shop is now dedicated to food — fresh-baked goods and refrigerated items like imported cheeses, foie gras (goose and duck), and French dried sausages. There’s also a sweet counter full of such goodies as macarons, cookies, fruit tarts, chocolates, and candies.
The bulk of the shelves represent a Provencal home cooks’ pantry: top quality whole spices, dried herb blends, coffees and loose-leaf teas, homemade preserves, specialty beans, as well as tapenades, oils, and vinegars.
Complementing the imported products are many of Maranda’s own culinary creations: in addition to the baked goods, there are homemade mustards and vinegars, as well as take-out meals like beef bourguignon, lobster bisque, pizzas, and quiche — all designed to transport our tastebuds to the French countryside.
Chez Francois – Plaisirs de Provence, 427 Richmond Rd.