August 16, 2018
L’Aviateur Restaurant: a Homegrown Gatineau Gem
By Lauren Nagel
At the border of Ontario and Québec is a charming restaurant that gives the term “homegrown” a whole new meaning. Hélène and Catheline Duval are the dynamic duo currently running the restaurant their parents started almost 40 years ago at the Gatineau-Ottawa Executive Airport. With a beautiful view of the runway set against the Gatineau Hills, it is a must-visit location for your next fly-in breakfast or lunch.
The Duval sisters assure visitors that everything at their establishment is local and homemade to the fullest extent of the word, including the management. Their parents started the restaurant in 1980 with Hélène and Catheline helping out from when they were only 11 years old. Growing up, they were involved with all kinds of airshows happening at the Gatineau-Ottawa airport, meeting pilots, parachutists, and even catering for Celine Dion’s private plane!
After changing hands over the years, Hélène and Catheline own “L’Aviateur” once again as of September, 2017. The space has been reimagined according to a vintage aviation theme with a modern twist. Catheline’s daughter, Véronqiue, has a knack for creativity and creates much of the restaurant’s décor with the help of Hélène’s daughter Claudia. It truly is a family affair, as three generations of the family pitch in on the weekends when they are especially busy.
When asked their favourite part about working at L’Aviateur, Hélène and Catheline mention the dynamic, never-dull atmosphere. “Every day is special”, says Hélène, who professes that she wakes up happy every morning because she looks forward to coming to work. This is not hard to believe as every client that enters receives a smile and warm hello. Several of the restaurant’s patrons have been coming for decades from Tremblant, Mascouche, and further and are happy that the business has stayed in the family.
Their menu boasts a delicious mix of comfort foods and experimental dishes, evolving to fit customers’ tastes. Many of their herbs and vegetables are grown right in their kitchen at the airport and the maple syrup is provided by a Gatineau artisan. Hélène recommends the Breakfast Club Sandwich and the Mushroom-Brie Eggs Benedict whose recipes have been perfected over the years. The Cloud Crepe is another winner, especially for kids and those young at heart.
Going forward, the restaurant will soon feature a vintage airplane mural based on the planes owned and housed in Gatineau by Michael Potter, who recently won several aircraft awards at EAA Airventure in Oshkosh, WI. In the coming years, they hope to expand the restaurant to include an outdoor terrace space for even better views of the runway.
If you would like to visit this friendly, homegrown spot, they are located at Gatineau-Ottawa executive Airport and open from 5am – 2pm on weekdays and 7am – 2pm on weekends. Hélène and Catheline’s parting message is a thank you to their loyal customers who come back year after year and who honoured them with the nomination for the Members’ Choice Award.
Find them on Facebook for more photos and information: www.facebook.com/restaurant.laviateur and vote for them at www.copanational.org/members-choice-awards-restaurant-contest/