I hate people who are not serious about their meals. -- Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Buvette: Francophiles and Italianos in Harmony

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: I still hate communal dining tables

The vintage looking bike is the only indications that you really have that you are at Buvette. That was all I knew about the place when I went to seek it out Saturday night, look for the quirk, vintage looking bike filled with corkscrews. Thankfully, I did not make myself look like a complete idiot stopping in from of every bike on Grove Street, seeing if there was a restaurant around there. Buvette is a fairly new place opened up by Jody Williams and it is best described as a Franco-Italian Tapas bar. 

Wine Board

DIY Bar Snacks of Walnuts
Walking into Buvette, it is cramping, tight and cozy. You will be getting to know your neighbors pretty well so discussing top government state secrets is out when coming here. The décor of the place can easily carry a conversation with its clutter walls of decorative plates, a blackboard mapping out their wine origins and in the backroom where we sat, a quirky chandler that looked like it is composed of Christmas lights, pitchers, and silverware. It is the kind of place that I can imagine a real life Pippy Longstockings would run and was into Dada art. However, I have concluded like Hello Kitty merchandise, it will make any girl coo and constantly remind you how “cute” everything is. We were seated in the back on a communal dining table which fits into the overall feel of the place but I unfortunately do not really like. My issue with communal tables is the privacy issue and like it or not, you are going to get cozy with strangers and hear their conversations and hear the lady next to you complain about how the majority of dishes have cheese and wrongfully tell her nonchalant husband erroneous facts about pasteurized cheeses in the US. (Lady, you are in a French and Italian restaurant, of course there is going to be cheese!)

Dada art or ambient lighting?
 Food, onward!!
The menu is split up into tartines (Frenchy word for opened face sandwich but pretty much a toasted sliced topped with something), fish, meat, vegetables and a back page filled with cheeses and charcuterie as well as a daily blackboard of specials. All of the plates are small, so if you are expecting an Applebee’s sized entrée, that is not happening. So unless you are a very light eater, expect to order a few things. To get a feel for the menu, we went with the hazelnut pesto tartine, an octopus salad, beets, and a trio of cheese and charcuterie. 

Tartine with Hazelnut Pesto
 The tartine was perfect for 2 people and was a nice quick bite and amuse bouche-like. The pesto was abundantly piled on and was refreshing. Hazelnut is a meaty nut and has an underlying sweetness to it, but the addition of orange zest to the pesto brought a dimension of lightness and freshness. The beets were deceptively simple but a must order. The beets were topped with crème fraiche and chopped hazelnuts. Crème fraiche is soured cream, not sour cream which makes this sentence sound redundant but there is a difference. Crème fraiche is lighter, and the sourness of the cream is subtle and paired beets accent the coolness and the slight sweetness. The addition of almonds completed the dish and was a nice pairing to the slippery beets and crème fraiche.

Beet Salad

The Octopus Salad emulated summer Mediterranean; it was dressed in olive oil, touch of vinegar and crisp julienne celery. The octopus was tender and lacked any characteristic of a dog chew toy. The celery was pleasantly bitter at all and paired nicely with the octopus. 

Octopus Salad

Finally the charcuterie board and we went with a trio of a cheese, the Oma Von Trapp (great name for a cheese), the Saucisson Sec A L’Huile, and the rabbit confit. Buvette has a great selection of cheeses and are served with a dollop of Acacia Honey. The Oma Von Trapp is a reblochon cheese that is made in Vermont. It is a soft washed rind cheese. It is rich, nutty, and slightly pungent but an overall smooth cheese. 
Oma Von Trapp Cheese
Saucisson Sec

The Saucisson Sec is basically the French version of salami and after it is cured and air dried, at Buvette the marinate it in olive oil which not only gives the saucisson notes of fruitiness, I think it makes the saucisson texture a bit more tender. Most air dried sausages have a jerky-like texture to it and the saucisson did not have this. Also were some lightly marinated olives. Lastly, one of my favorite offerings of the night was the rabbit confit. The rabbit confit was more or less rilettes, but the meat was not shredded finely and had bigger morsels of meat. The rabbit confit was served in a crock pot, which think makes everything taste better and had dried cepes in it, which are a type of mushrooms and attributed to the earthy rustic flavors in this dish. 

Rabbit Confit
Inside the jar of Rabbit Confit
I unfortunately have to comment on the service at Buvette. Service was very European café like which was a slow leisurely pace. I am all for enjoying the space and having time to talk to my fellow diners but if you got other things to do afterward, plan on being late. Our waitress was knowledgeable and friendly but it seems like she was the only waitress in the entire place. Not in the leisure lounging around mood, we skipped out on dessert (and the Waffle and Dinges truck was around there) but I the food at Buvette is solid and is worth going to and eating. Since I did not have the time to spend the whole night there, I did not get to try their desserts and one of their specials but they all sounded, looked and smelled great. They are also open for breakfast and throughout the day which I can easily picture myself spending a leisurely weekend morning at Buvette. I am excited to go back and see what else they have, especially their version of a croquet monsieur, which from their website, looks dastardly tasty.

Buvette open sign- Nissan Maxima may or may not be there

42 Grove Street
New York, NY 10014-5310

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