The art of bon vivant

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Bar Buvette offers up a slice of the finer things in life, writes Sammy Milton

French cuisine encompasses everything that is great with the world. Rich in all the best things – excellent cheese, quality meats and fine wine, it really is the epitome of the good life. Why then, is there such a shortage in Bristol? I know many would argue with me on this, but I’m talking the real deal – proper pâtés, well-thought-out cheeseboards and traditional dishes that wouldn’t be seen out of place in a Parisian bistro. 

It’s lucky for us that Bar Buvette is still here and doing what it does best: turning out the most authentic French food in the city whilst providing a wonderful place for people to meet and simply relax and have a great evening. 

We arrived on a chilly Wednesday evening full of joie de vivre and a sense of anticipation. I’ve heard a lot of good things about this place, but would it live up to its reputation? 

The short answer is: yes, absolutely. We were welcomed in from the cold, seated immediately and given a rather lovely looking menu and wine list. Choosing two glasses of a natural white wine, we took a moment to take in our surroundings. Set out inside like a bistro, there are high ceilings, pretty artwork adorning the walls and an overall atmosphere of content. 

My partner and I opted to share a variety of the small plates to get more variety and we’re so glad we did – you pretty much want to eat everything on the menu so it’s the way to go. Cornichons (£2.50) arrived first – two deep bowls of jade green olives and pickles, the perfect way to start a meal. We held some back for the charcuterie maison (£7.50) – a large wooden platter of all things meaty and delicious. Slices of French saucisson, delicate and fragrant, were an absolute delight, a hard-pressed slice of chopped pork and pistachio terrine was wonderful slathered on thick bread and a pile of creamed and cured pork was most decadent. This was my favourite of all – deep and intensely rich, it worked magnificently with the cornichons, the acidity cutting through the fullness of the flavours perfectly. 

Following this we tried the puntarelle with anchovy, lemon and garlic (£5.50). Gorgeously green, the bitter salad worked in tandem with the salt of the anchovy and the tartness of the lemon. A wonderful palate cleanser if I’ve ever had one. 

In quick succession came whipped cod’s roe with baby gem and radishes (£6.00). A very pretty dish indeed, the blushing strips, radishes and robust gem became the perfect vehicles with which to scoop up the deeply fishy roe. Very French and very good. 

Next came the big revelation – a tartiflette (£8.00) – thick-cut slices of potato covered in gooey raclette cheese and pieces of crispy bacon and chives. How this dish has escaped me for so long is beyond me – it will now forever be the thing I crave when I want something so extremely comforting. 

To finish off we worked our way through a most impressive cheeseboard (£8.00) – well, you can’t not, can you? – and two magnificent chocolate pots with crème fraiche (£5.00). Thickly set in deep cuts, this is everything you want to end an already spectacular meal – bittersweet to take the edge off without putting you into a food coma. 

Bar Buvette has quickly become a contender for my favourite restaurant in Bristol, and this will stand out as one of the most special meals I’ve ever had here. But don’t take my word for it – go and try for yourself. 

Bar Buvette

31 Baldwin Street, Bristol BS1 1RG

0117 370 9667

barbuvette.co.uk

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