This Parisian bistro took a while to actually make it to the streets of Paris. Chef Jody Williams opened the first incarnation of Buvette Gastrothèque in Manhattan’s West Village back in early 2011. The diminutive space was quickly embraced by the locals for much the same reason they loved the small plates; it’s all packed with Gallic flavour. Its success spurred its creator to open Buvette Gastrothèque in South Pigalle, which – thanks to its own rough and tumble reputation (which is slowly turning to trendy) – fits perfectly with the idea of a buvette, a name given to a slightly down-at-heel drinking spot.
Buvette Gastrothèque itself is charming. A chalkboard lists the specials as you walk in. Well-worn wooden floorboards line the space. And, much like the Buvette in New York, the walls are brick and the ceiling is tin. Sparkling glassware, filled with dark red wine, perches on marble countertops. You hear the clink of silverware repeatedly hitting little plates, making sure the diner gets every last morsel. And they do want to get it all.
The menu changes seasonally, but there’s always plenty to choose from, no matter the time of day you visit. Buvette Gastrothèque is happily open from breakfast until late, which means you can try everything from warm croissants to croque monsieurs here. Indeed, you may be able to try a croque forestière (grilled mushroom sandwich) if they’ve sourced some good mushrooms the day you visit. There could be bistro classics like grated carrot salad, leeks vinaigrette or meaty, rich terrines. Maybe some house-baked financiers or chouquettes, or even rich tarte tatin. And the warm goat cheese salad, that bistro classic? Let’s just say that they do it justice here, with its tangle of leaves, creamy cheese and piquant dressing.
It seems that as much care and attention has gone into sourcing the coffee as it has putting together the wine list, which is to say – a lot. Cocktails are another option, of course, but the setting (and, indeed, the list itself) seem to beg you to order a bottle of wine, settle back and then just enjoy the parade of delicious dishes that come winging their way to your table.