Buvette Bistro and Wine Bar at Hotel Realm has been delighting Canberrans with a fusion of traditional European and Australian flavours since it opened late in 2015. The DOMA hotel’s head chef, Fabien Wagnon, was born and raised in Northern France and his background strongly influences Buvette’s menus.
I am excited to be having dinner here with a friend, anticipating a delicious meal suffused with Parisian je ne sais quoi. As I walk into the restaurant looking for my dinner companion, I am struck by how many people are dining here on a Tuesday evening. Several groups are enjoying happy hour on the deck and as we take our seats inside the restaurant itself, we hear the gentle buzz of staff taking orders and describing dishes.
Our server, James, expertly assists us in navigating the menu and ordering the perfect meal.
Our first starter, vannella burrata, is something I have not tasted before but is a must-try for cheese lovers.
When we cut into the knotted pouch of mozzarella, the burrata’s soft, salty insides – a combination of mozzarella and cream – ooze out. The burrata comes with a rustic broad bean pesto scented with basil and lemon. Not one flavour overtakes the others. They harmonise beautifully together. The burrata comes with house-made sourdough bread to sop up all the delicious juices. Still warm, fresh and soft inside, the bread is deliciously crunchy.
We savour our second starter, torched miso scallops. The delicate smokiness of grilled miso scallop served with earthy cauliflower purée, yuzu and lemongrass. Scallops are one of my favourite dishes anywhere and these are tender, flavoursome and particularly hard to share!
Our main is Wagyu marble 8 brisket with pomme puree, baby carrots and bourguignon jus red wine with onion. As we swirl forkfuls of lush brisket into the smooth pomme puree and then the rich jus, my friend comments that this dish is like an elevated version of Julia Child’s famed beef bourguignon.
We share a dessert. The Vietnam single-origin chocolate mousse with roasted pineapple puree and whipped chocolate ganache. The first thing that stands out is the biscuit atop the mousse. A salted caramel shortbread. Buttery, flaky and salty with a hint of sweetness, it is absolutely amazing, and I wish Buvette sold it by the bagful. The dessert’s silken ganache isn’t overly sweet, encased in a fine chocolate casing that cracks easily under my spoon.
The team at Buvette puts a lot of effort into making their guests as welcome and comfortable as possible. Attentive and friendly service that facilitates a great night is their highest priority. They don’t try to be fine dining but try their best to provide a great product and service without being pretentious.
James says that Buvette’s wine list is a mix of Australian and European (mostly French) wines with a focus on well-established regions and grape varietals that have proven to produce well-balanced and structured wines.
Buvette’s highly regarded High Tea offers a selection of finely made French cakes and tarts, delicate savouries and traditional scones, accompanied by TWG fine teas, freshly brewed coffee or additional options of Piper Heidsieck champagne or a selection of cocktails. The entire menu can also be ordered for takeaway in a High Tea box. Find further details, including the menu, here.
Buvette Bistro and Wine Bar is located at 18 National Circuit in Barton.
It is open for lunch Tuesday to Friday from 12 pm to 3 pm and for dinner Tuesday to Saturday from 6 pm until late. Buvette offers high tea on Saturday and Sunday from 12 pm. Follow Buvette on Facebook and Instagram for gorgeous images of their mouth-watering meals and drinks.