31 August 2016

First Look: Buvette

| Ryan Johnstone
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Adding to the small amount of French eateries in Canberra, Buvette has become Hotel Realm’s latest culinary establishment. The bistro opened its doors at the start of December last year, and showcases exquisite French classics with the finest local produce. The space, (which has taken over what was once Mavi, and Konoba) has a dark, moody feeling, offset by white marble and crisp white panelling. The on-staff Sommelier has constructed an extensive wine list featuring rare wines that you’ll struggle to find elsewhere. I dined here several weeks ago with friends so forgive me if some details have been forgotten after the holiday celebrations.


Upon being seated we were welcomed with fresh bread, pepe saya butter, and a complimentary Chef’s choice plat pour deux. We were lucky to be given a private table separate to the main dining room which takes advantage of the large bifold doors onto the outdoor area. The sommelier then came and offered assistance selecting wines, which in hindsight we should’ve done after choosing our meals. Nonetheless, we placed our orders and entrees were served shortly after.

For the four of us, our selection of entrees included; Traditional French Onion Soup ($17); Asparagus Mimosa – Scrambled Free Range Eggs tossed with Broccolini, Capers, & Extra Virgin Olive Oil ($17); Chicken & Chorizo Croquettes ($12); and Duck Rillettes with Cherry Vinegar, Hazelnuts, Baby Gherkins & Sour Dough ($15). All of which we were exceptionally pleased with, especially the Rilettes. However, it seemed unusual for the soup to be one of the more expensive entrees that we had. To accompany our entrees, we decided on the Helm Premium Riesling and had no regrets about it.


After the entrees we hoped that the mains would be just as good. And they were, if not better. We had amazing French classics including; Beef Bourguignon with Wagyu Tri-Tip, Carrots, Onion Bulbs & Shemeji Mushrooms ($33); Bouillabaisse with Blue eye, Scampi, Scallop, Mussels & Finger Fennel ($38); Hand Rolled Gnocchi with Smoked Cream Sauce, Almonds & Mushroom Fricassee ($31); and a 250g Sirloin ($34). As well as the mains we enjoyed sides of Pomme Frites, Pomme Puree, Chargrilled Cauliflower, and Burnt Butter & Pumpkin.


The Bourguignon was melt in your mouth amazing, I have no doubt that Julia Child herself would’ve been proud of it. We soon realised that the sides were unnecessary, the meals were full, flavoursome and filling on their own. The steak was tender and juicy, although some complaints that the gnocchi was inconsistently cooked. Overall the mains were thoroughly enjoyed, and as seen in the photos they were all beautifully presented.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay for dessert as we had prior commitments although they were all very tempting, especially the Mango, Pineapple & Ginger Sorbet with Mascarpone Mousse. The evening wouldn’t have been complete without the faultless service from our servers, Steve and Veronica, who took exceptional care of us.

A copy of Buvette’s menu can be found online.

Buvette is located on the ground floor of Hotel Realm at 18 National Circuit Barton.

This meal was paid in full by me and my guests, and at no discount, for review purposes.

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Love Boeuf Bourguignon when cooked properly, one of life’s little pleasures.

Small and well chosen wine list albeit with some astonishing markups (not that that’s unusual).

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