Buvette in the 9th


Looking for a cosy spot to catch up on your Paris journal, have lunch with a friend, or sample wine?

Halfway between Galeries Lafayette and Pigalle, Buvette, chef Jody Williams’ year-old Paris wine bar, is off the beaten path and worth the detour.

Mismatched silverware, an impressive marble bar, tin ceilings, antique wooden tables, a chalk map of French wine country, and walls of glass all speak of tradition.

But the take on food is decidedly modern (and not for calorie counters).

Pain perdu (French toast) and gauffres (waffles) form the base of decadent sandwiches, financiers substitute pistachios for the traditional almonds. Cappuccino is served in cornflower blue and white flowered bowls that manage to be both elegant and homey.

This is as far through the menu as I got, but the aromas, the mix of old and new, and the presence of neighborhood regulars will get me back for a tartine and a glass of wine (chosen with help from the map of French wine appelations).

Have you eaten at Buvette? Let us know what you thought!

Paris Food Trends: Winebar Update


While wine has always been a staple in Paris, I’m seeing more variety in the ways it’s purchased and served.

La Cave des Papilles, on charming rue Daguerre in the 14th, works all the angles under one roof: they offer tastings and meetings with vintners at their storefront; they give advice on food pairings by phone; and they offer purchase and delivery on line.

Le Verre Volé, which started with a tiny cave à manger (combination bistro/wine shop) serving simple but delicious food and natural wines near Canal St Martin, offers something different at each of their 3 locations. Their new cave à vins on trendy rue Oberkampft, 11th, has a large selection of natural wines and friendly and knowledgable staff. Nearby, their épicerie/sandwicherie (gourmet grocery and sandwich shop) sells and serves wine, great deli counter lunches, and artisanal products, like Bordier butter.

New last year, and not to be forgotten: Epicerie St Sabin adds wine tastings to the épicerie/sandwicherie model, and La Buvette pairs small plates with interesting and affordable wines.

La Buvette Serves Complex Small Plates


La Buvette, (meaning refreshment stall), is at first glance as unsophisticated as its name suggests. The tiny place holds 3 tables, a wooden bar, a wall of wine bottles, and a mirror listing the daily food specials, one beneath the next, in white script.

The food list is a bit hard to read, but then it hardly matters what you choose. The food, delivered on small plates, is not just good, but surprisingly complex.

We started with saucisson d’Aubrac, a rosy pork sausage from south-central France, served thinly sliced, with a sliver of smokey butter. Piled on a piece of fragrant, sourdough wheat bread (a treat by itself), the combination was subtle and refined.

The terrine d’aigneau with cumin and figs was sweet, rich and moist. Add a round of “pickles maison,” and it became almost otherworldly.

My tomates anciennes with red currents were a wonder: 3 types of heritage tomatoes drizzled with olive oil glistened yellow, red and green, and smelled of summer.

The complexity may have continued to the wines, but I can’t say. Red wines by the glass were indicated by the grape: pinot, gamay, and syrah/grenache. For a minute, I thought I was back in the US.

In France, wines are normally introduced by their apellation. And servers, who are familiar with the wine makers and may have stepped between the vines, talk about what sets the wine apart. They talk about the wine’s character, suggest food pairings, and feature the label. None of this happened at La Buvette.

We chose the pinot, which our server poured for us to taste before ordering. It was perfectly good, but with a bit of information, it would have been even better.