We don’t incorporate food into our bedroom repertoire. I imagine it’s messy, and I don’t want to risk staining our sheets with chocolate, honey or that red juice from a jar of maraschino cherries. I do too much laundry already. But, if I were going to break that rule it would have to be the incredible sauce from the entrée I had at Buvette, a french restaurant in NYC.
I had read about this place in Martha Stewart Living and when I saw the beautiful photos of the small plates – tartinettes, cheese and especially the charcuterie – I knew that the next time Michael and I had the opportunity to score a babysitter on a Saturday night, this would be the place to go. (Please forgive the photos I’ve included – the lighting is pure romance but not so much for clear, detailed pictures from my phone. I also think my husband found me embarrassing, since people were looking at me like some kind of tourist.)
(These ladies thought I was photographing them but I was really after the chalkboard above their heads)
When we arrived, almost every table was filled. Dimly-lit, a chalkboard map of France and Italy hanging on one of the brick walls, schoolhouse stools – this place is warm, cozy and oh-so-inviting. A long bar hugs one side of the narrow space and there were many people dining there, too. Luckily, one table for two was open next to the stairs. The word “table” is a bit of an overstatement. If you don’t enjoy feeling sardine-like when you go out to eat, or if keeping your elbows firmly pinned to your sides as you dine is a problem, then you may have a claustrophobia issue with Buvette. The tables are about 16 inch squares. The walkway between our table and the bar was just wide enough for waitstaff to glide back and forth, so you can imagine why flailing your arms about would be risky.
Mousse de foie de Volaille (Chicken liver mousse)
We began with a bottle of Cabernet Franc and ordered five small plates – 3 charcuterie and 2 cheeses. Duck rilletes, terrine de campagne, mousse de foie de volaille arrived first and were served with slices of wonderfully buttery grilled toast, grainy mustard and caper berries. We‘ve hit the french paté lottery! All three were exquisite – and we’ve eaten a lot of paté in our travels. Choosing a favorite would be almost as tough as deciding whether I enjoy coffee more than wine. On the one hand, wine relaxes me and has often indescribable flavor complexity. But coffee keeps me going and I’ve got kids, so coffee it is. That wasn’t so hard. Anyway, I’ll go with the duck rilletes. I wish I could describe the flavors and seasoning that may have been used here but this escapes me. Can I just say absolutely delicious, heavenly, divine and have you believe me? The mousse de foie de volaille was also a delight, with a creamy texture and sinfully rich flavor. Some of you may look at paté and see cat food, but others of you know what I mean.
The cheese selections – Riley’s Coat (a hard raw goat’s milk) and Noble Road (a soft raw cow’s milk) – were served with what I think was apricot compote and honey. This was the first hard goat cheese I’ve ever had and oh mama was it dreamy. All the flavor intensity of a soft goat cheese but the texture here was dense, crumbly. The Noble Road was also enjoyable but I think I’ve come to love brie-like cheeses less over time and now I’m more of a hard cheese kind of girl.
The longer we sat and indulged, the more we both fell in love with Buvette. The lack of spaciousness was no longer a thought in my mind. I thought only of our next course which was Rabbit al Moutarde. Think cream, lemon, mustard…was it tarragon? And of course, tender chunks of rabbit. The aroma was overwhelming, but only in the best possible way. The consistency of the dish was somewhere between a soup and a stew. Too heavy for a summer night? Try it for yourself and you won’t care if it’s 107F degrees and you happen to be wearing a sweat suit beneath a parka, topped with a wool scarf and matching hat.
Haricots Verts with basil pesto and new potatoes
(I intended to include photos of the entrée, as well as dessert, but those shots didn’t come out even close to decent.)
Although we were quite full at this point (and my stomach was aching because dairy doesn’t always agree with me), we ordered both desserts on the menu that evening: Tarte Tatin (caramelized apple tart) and Chocolate Mousse. Sometimes having a background in pastry works against me, since I’m particular about the way I like my desserts. Both were pleasant but I wouldn’t come back for dessert. We loved this place, that’s really what I want you to know. The sweetest thing is that you feel like there’s love in the food. Corny to say, but when you eat a meal that someone has put thought and emotion into creating, you know it. Dining out is something my hubby and I enjoy immensely, and even though a meal can be executed properly, sometimes it doesn’t jump off the plate the way you hope it will when it’s placed in front of you. Buvette is a place that tells you someone back there in the kitchen loves what they’re doing. Nous avons vraiment apprécié notre repas! http://www.ilovebuvette.com/