*I was invited to dine as a guest, however all opinions are my own. Portion sizes may vary.
Buvette Bistro & Wine Bar is part of the Realm Hotel’s suite of restaurants in Barton. It opened in November 2015 with about a month’s break after Christmas and New Year. Buvette is a modern and sleek eatery offering classic French dishes such as cheese souffle and bouillabaisse, as well as a charcuterie selection, steaks and dessert. It is spacious inside with a mezzanine floor for larger groups and plenty of outdoor seating.
I liked the modern lamps on each table that could be switched to 3 different light settings to set the mood.
We started off with drinks. When I asked whether Buvette made any mocktails, our waiter said they did and asked for my preference of berry or citrusy styles. I usually pick berry, but was in the mood for something citrusy that evening. Out came a passionfruit and guava mocktail topped with blueberries in a hollowed out passionfruit shell. A great mix of flavours with the sweet guava juice balancing out the sour passionfruit. Even J was a little bit jealous! I might need to add this to my Top 10 mocktail list.
Our waiter took care of J’s drinks that night, starting him off with a beer.
We were provided with a small piece of a baguette and butter – beautifully crunchy crust with a soft inside.
When we asked our waiter what his favourite starter was, he was quick to respond with the duck parfait. I’m not a huge offal eater, I can have a little bit but wouldn’t order it as a single dish, so I chose the charcuterie instead. The assiette de charcuterie for 2 (usually $28) came with 3 cured meats of pig cheek, prosciutto and salami, fried pigs ear, duck parfait, duck rillette, giblets, pickles and slices of toasted baguette. The pigs ear was interesting – the closest thing I can think of to compare it to is the texture of calamari. I must say that the duck parfait was the highlight of the dish! It had a strong flavour, but not sickeningly so, velvety smooth and easy to spread on the baguette and just so moreish. It was delicious! We were very close to finishing the parfait but had already filled up on too much bread.
The duck rillette was still warm and stuffed full of parsley which was quite strong. The giblets were easy to slice through and had a subtle offal flavour.
For our entrees, I chose the French onion soup (usually $17) which came served with three slices of toasted baguette covered in melted cheese. There was no shortage of onion in that soup and I was happy that the acidity had been cooked out of the onion, allowing some sweetness to come through. I wasn’t expecting such a huge portion of soup, it’s almost a meal in itself. My only complaint was that the soup was overly salty from the first spoonful.
J ordered the traditional beef tartare (usually $21) which came with a raw egg on top and slices of toasted baguette. This was very fresh with just pure raw beef, herbs and spices. Again, we were surprised at the huge portion. It doesn’t look it in the photo, but there was so much meat! We didn’t finish it all. Definitely a sharing dish.
For the mains, I decided to try the bouillabaisse (usually $38) filled with snapper, king prawns, mussels and squid, which also came with a side of toasted sourdough. There was plenty of seafood in the dish, however the broth was overly salty so I couldn’t really enjoy it or taste the complexities in the broth. Hence I didn’t mop up much of the bouillabaisse with the sourdough which I usually love to do.
The charred sourdough was tasty topped with garlic (I was starting to get carbed out). We were also provided with freshly made rouille and advised to put some of it in the bouillabaisse to add another layer of flavour and texture.
J ordered the beef bourguignon (usually $36) consisting of wagyu tri-tip, smoked pork belly, carrots, Swiss brown mushrooms and spring onion. Buvette’s version is more of a deconstructed dish and hence not as rich and hearty as the traditional beef bourguignon. Wonderful pink wagyu and perfectly cooked veggies.
Our waiter decided to provide us with a side salad of burnt butter and pumpkin with crispy sage, feta and walnuts (usually $9). The pumpkin had been sliced into thin sheets and I could honestly just eat this as a main meal. It was so light with a fantastic combination of flavours. I really wanted more of it but was so full.
J enjoyed his wines that were selected by our waiter. A pinot noir with his entree, and a cab sav with his main.
We finished off with a dessert to share. The order must have been misplaced as one of the waiters asked if we were waiting for anything else. After confirming that we were waiting on dessert, it took over half an hour to reach us. This wasn’t a bad thing as we were pretty full by that stage. The crispy apple tart (usually $17) consisted of a very thin pastry bottom and crispy edges with thinly sliced apple layered on top, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This tart was made with a layer of thin pastry and then apple slices on top, with no soft apple filling in between. As I like my apple tarts with that extra layer, the dessert tasted a bit too flat for my liking. Half of the pastry had been burnt as well so it wasn’t as enjoyable as it could have been.
Overall, J and I both enjoyed our dinner at Buvette. The charcuterie, beef bourguignon and pumpkin salad were the favourites of the night. With a little less salt, the French onion soup and bouillabaisse would have been great too. We found portion sizes for the starter and entree a lot larger than expected. Service is professional – our main waiter had good knowledge of the menu, recommended some wines that could be matched to dishes and was unobtrusive in taking care of us. A big thanks to Buvette for inviting us to dine in!
Buvette Bistro and Wine Bar is open seven days a week for breakfast, Tuesday to Friday for lunch, and Tuesday to Saturday for dinner.
Value for money 7/10
FPJ score 21.5/30
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