I Love Buvette

a view down the bar

Recently I read about a new “gastrotheque” in the west village – featuring cured meats, croques Monsieur, and other French country delicacies. Naturally it went right on my to do list but, not being open for weekend brunch (quelle horreur!) I didn’t get to go until this past Monday, January 2.

A friend of mine and I popped in for a late lunch on a cold afternoon (finally it is cold!), which might be the perfect time to visit Buvette, a warm, cozy nook of a place on Grove Street right off Bleecker in the West Village.  Although, I imagine it’s pretty stellar for breakfast too.  We installed ourselves at the marble bar, ogling the plates being assembled before our very eyes, trying to decide which of the 15 things we wanted to have.  There was a great selection of cheese and charcuterie, plus a range of sandwiches, a few salads and a smattering of egg dishes.  The drinks list features two (2) cocktails: the Manhattan and the Martini; as well as lots of wines, beers and a few champagne concoctions.

When we finally got some attention (the service was friendly but either they need better multi-taskers or more people) we ordered drinks – I the Rosette, which is champagne with dried cherries, and my friend a glass of Pineau, a musty, grapey fortified wine.  The Rosette is a great alternative to the perennial Kir Royal, and by the end the cherries had plumped up nicely with the bubbly so I could pick them out with my spoon.  Nothing like a good alcohol laden piece of fruit.

champers & cherries

raw meat

For food we decided on the steak tartare – served, like everything else we ordered, on crusty, country bread; brandade de morue – a kind of cod pâté that was delicious; and duck rillettes because I am incapable of not ordering rillettes when they are on the menu.

rillettes: duck fat + meat = heaven

They arrived with a healthy serving of plump, green olives and globular pickles that were tangy and salty and eminently poppable.

We were totally full after this, but naturally I couldn’t leave without sampling the mousse au chocolat – a dense, dark one topped with whipped cream.  Sinfully good.  Next time I’ll have to leave room for the tarte tatin….

Vital Statistics:
Location: 42 Grove Street, between Bleecker and Bedford
Subway: 1 to Christopher Street
Website: www.ilovebuvette.com
Prices: $45 each for 3 savory plates, 2 cocktails, and 1 dessert; cocktails $12 each, plates about the same

the Buvette bicycle (ahem, I mean vélo): throw a cork in the basket for good luck


Mas (la grillade)

Last week my friend Cordelia and I checked out Galen Zamarra’s new restaurant Mas (la grillade) – yes the name includes the parentheses – on Leroy and 7th Avenue South (a corner that is also home to another fine establishment, Little Branch). For those of you thinking “Wait, isn’t there already a restaurant called Mas in the West Village?” you’re right – that would be Zamarra’s first restaurant Mas (farmhouse) which he opened in 2004.

La grillade is a bit less upscale than Farmhouse but they still go in for fancy linens, hot plates (those decorative ones at your place when you sit down) and service which, although excellent, at times felt overly formal given the otherwise relaxed vibe. The dining room is spacious with a full wall of windows facing 7th Avenue, double height ceilings and a small lofted space with a skylight.

True to its name, la grillade is all grilling all the time – even the desserts (we had grilled figs). Apparently some people in the neighborhood are not fans though, as demonstrated by the irate man who barged in as we were finishing our main courses yelling about how the restaurant was poisoning the neighborhood with smoke. He was firmly escorted out by a group of waiters and the general manager.

squid stuffed with bay leaves

To start we sampled grilled artichokes with chanterelles topped with arugula. Some of the most incredible chanterelles I have ever had, they were crisped and sweet, melt in your mouth delicious. The squid appetizer was also good – although the waiter felt obliged to warn us to remove the bay leaves before eating it.  I wondered how many unassuming guests have choked on them to warrant this disclaimer.

The wine list featured French wines – lots of red Burgundy and Cotes du Rhônes – with a few American bottles thrown in. We found the price point a little high, with most bottles between $65-$120 which for me is just a little more than what I want to spend for dinner just because it’s Wednesday.  In the end we settled on a bottle of Carignan from the Languedoc, 2007 for $58. It was a nice medium bodied wine and paired well with our mains: squab and lamb chops.

lamb + squab + fennel and pear

Both meats were sublimely juicy and tender and richly smokey – the lamb total pink perfection.  We also ordered a side of fennel and pear – delish.

Vital statistics:
Location: 28 Seventh Avenue South at Leroy Street
Subway: 1 to Christopher Street
Website: www.maslagrillade.com
Prices: $30-34 for a main course, total damage for us was $110 each