I get giddy when I fall in love with a new place. It’s almost like the feeling of having butterflies in your stomach after a first date in high school. A true match was made tonight when I finally visited Buvette, a new wine bar in the West Village that I’ve had my eye on since its quaint storefront caught my eye last week. As part of a work scavenger hunt this afternoon, my colleagues and I were tasked with taking a team photo at a wine bar. Though we were across town on the upper east side, I of course considered this an opportunity to visit what I had envisioned to become my new, habitual, neighborhood wine joint.
It was love at first sight. I opened the frail front door, and instantly my heart sank as I took the whole space in. My eyes directed straight back to the french country style semi-private area, with an incredibly eclectic chandelier dramatizing the light hearted, summery and very homey dining room. In the front, wooden benches, mismatched stools, a long marble bar, and a silver tin roof created a spring day vibe, as opposed to the intense, romantic feeling some consider a requirement for wine bars. My two friends from work and I took a seat at the bar, in direct view of the attractive french bartender (in addition to the 10 other staff members working by and around the counter). As the only customers in the restaurant at 4:30pm on a Tuesday, we had the privilege to slowly and calmly breathe in every inch of the impeccably charming ambience.
Buvette’s menu is full of delicious cheeses, meats, and tartines, and a small chalk board behind the bar lists a limited variety of small plate specials. Along with our Pouilly Fume wine, we ordered the Kunik cheese, a goat’s milk cheese with a touch of jersey cow cream, which the waiter highly recommended. We also went for the fresh cheese and cherry tomato tartine, which was gorgeously creamy, drizzled with pungent olive oil, capers, and slightly pickled cherry tomatoes. The combination was divine, and along with charred, freshly oiled crostini, the kunik cheese was outstanding. Served with subtly flavored stewed cherries, these pure and simply sweet and salty ingredients joined to form an indescribably complex yet well rounded pair.
I had no intention of eating a heavy load at Buvette, but after finishing off the cheese in sheer happiness, I couldn’t resist a slice of the tarte tatin that rested gracefully on a cake platter and tantalized me throughout my meal. It arrived with a rustic scoop of creme fraiche, and when I placed a large hunk of crust, apple, and cream in my mouth, the nerve wracking Inglorious Bastards’ restaurant scene with Christopher Waltz and Melanie Laurent instantly popped in my head. I remember when watching that moment intently, I became distracted by (of course) nothing else but the generous dollap of gorgeous cream resting on her tart. Finally, I was able to put taste to that image with every bite of this gorgeous sweet. It was so decadent that I didn’t even regret breaking my no-dessert lent to indulge!
I soon discovered that the woman in apron seated to my left was the former chef of Morandi, and the owner of Buvette. Though she indulged me in my lust over the place by answering my questions, she was far from warm and friendly, which I guess fit quite well with every other French detail. The waiters also seemed less than thrilled that despite our positive feedback, we had interrupted their calm before the swarm of West Village winos. Cute and fuzzy service aside, the food, wine, and setting alone is enough to make me proclaim Buvette as my absolute favorite new wine bar in the city. I already have plans to return tomorrow.
Location: 42 Grove St btwn Bedford and Bleecker