October 16 2013
It is a curious combination: France-in-America does France-in-America-back-in-France. Supposedly a coffee place in the morning, moving to light lunches, then wine, cocktails, small tapas dishes in the evening, I had heard much about this place and was looking forward to checking it out.
My first impression of Buvette was not a favourable one. Supposed to open at 10am, when I got there at ten past on a Saturday morning, they were still mopping the floor. It looked like the person with the key had overslept.
Anyway, I went back try my luck again the day after (in the evening, this time!)
Straightaway, you realise that a serious sum of money has gone into doing-up the place. From the barstools, the countertop, the wine list... everything is impeccable. The attention to detail incredible. Gorgeous.
Perusing the menu, I am acutely aware that it, and the wine list, are direct translations of the original American one. When you are in France, and you only offer French wine, why do you need to state that it's "French Red Wine" and "French White Wine"? Strange. Anyway.
Prices are high. The mark-up seems to suggest that the prices are also direct translations from US dollars. We're tempted by the classics cocktails, which at 10 euros a pop seem pretty reasonable. Still, we settle on a bottle of natural wine from the Loire (Michel Augé) and decide to accompany it with some fatty rillettes de canard.
The waitress comes back with our bottle of wine. It's a crown cap. What you typically put on a beer bottle. Yet she can't open it.
She is struggling. I don't think I know a single person over the age of 16 who can't use a bottle opener... Isn't it one of those life skills that you learn once you hit puberty?! It got so bad that my friend and I didn't know quite where to look. The girl was still there, hovering over my shoulder, fighting with the bottle and it was winning. We start giggling awkwardly. At one point, I asked (I hope it was politely) if maybe I would be able to help her open it... No, she declines. But, finally, bingo!
She asks if we would like to taste it. I gesture in the direction of my friend. It's good, but a shade too warm for our liking. She serves us a small glass each and says that she'll put the bottle in the fridge for us.
After 5-10 mins, our glasses are dry but there is no sign of the waitress. She has disappeared, along with our bottle. We wait for someone to come. Everyone has disappeared. We end up flagging down another waiter to ask if we can have our bottle of wine back. It's the first time in all my life that I've had to say: "Excuse me, you know that half-open bottle of wine that we ordered... well, do you think we could have it back...?"
Quite frankly, our experience could easily be adapted into a comedy sketch. As well as our wine fiasco, during the hour or so that we were there, I lost count of how many saucers the wait-staff dropped as they were preparing for their evening rush.
If you're looking for a sleek place to have an apéro and you're not watching your pennies, it's cute. I'm sure with time and experience, the wait-staff will improve and I'm sure then, it might develop into a place where you'd take someone you want to impress. It fits into the "Brooklyn" trend that's super hot at the moment. But honestly, right now, I'll keep going to other places. I'm obviously far too English to be able to understand what the fuss is all about here.
Open Tuesday - Sunday from 10am until midnight. Closed Monday.
28 rue Henri Monnier, 75009
P.S. They take down the unfavourable posts on their Facebook page without as much as a comment or direct message. Too much money. Not enough sense. Sorry, you've lost me as a customer.
P.P.S. Not to be confused with La Buvette in the 11th. Go there instead.