Thought it was time to break out a few posts about my standbys -- the spots with great food and drink that have yet to fail me; a guide to the restaurants that I turn to time and time again. First up, a heavenly slice of a French cafe known as Buvette. Chef Jody Williams created a charming, almost giddy scene, when she opened the doors to this West Village enclave on Grove Street. Streaming with sunlight, the room beckons you inside.
The only hitch? Sometimes you'll have to wait for a table or bar stool. Not a problem in my opinion. Especially when you see that democracy is most definitely in play. (Once stood outside on an early summer evening alongside Jake Gyllenhaal, who also waited a half-hour for a seat.)
Admittedly, I find myself hitting Buvette at off-hours to avoid a wait. If I plan correctly, I can immediately sidle up to the bar or grab a table, order a glass of wine or a bracing espresso and joyfully snack on the restaurant's series of ambitious small plates.
If I'm in a breakfast mood, a flaky, butter-rich Croissant with tart raspberry jam might do the trick, or perhaps perfectly scrambled eggs prepared with the steam from a cappuccino frother. Top the eggs with paper-thin slivers of shaved Proscuitto of slices of Smoked Salmon and it's quite the substantial morning or brunch-time meal. If my cravings are of the lunch or dinner variety, I often end up ordering Williams' ethereal Brandade De Morue and slather thick slices of toast with this addictive house-cured salt cod spread. Sometimes, I'll simply get a hunk of the Country Pate, served up with mouth-puckering cornichons and a few meaty olives, and compliment it with a plate of wilted leeks in a mustardy vinaigrette. Too ravenous for something along those lines? I'll go straight for a "tartinette" graced with salted butter and anchovies, followed by the hearty comfort of Coq au Vin or Cassoulet.
And, no meal at Buvette is complete without dessert. Seriously. Forgo these sweets at your own peril: an exquisite caramelized wedge of Apple Tarte Tartin with a dollop of Creme Fraiche, or a scoop of miraculously dense, ever-so-slightly bitter Chocolate Mousse. Either way, you cannot go wrong.
I've been a die-hard fan of Chef Williams since she was at Gottino, and with Buvette going strong now with branches in both New York and Paris, I expect to enjoy her hospitality and brilliance in the kitchen for years to come. And, I wouldn't be surprised if I end up purchasing her upcoming Buvette cookbook this April too. A little Buvette at Chez Vamp might be a very good thing indeed.