Buvette: A Taste of Paris in the Heart of NYC

Sarah Ouyang ’22

Any avid Friends fan knows the hallowed corner where Grove St meets Bedford: a magical place where the Friends’ world awaits those camera-wielding tourists who only have to look up to behold the sacred glory of Monica’s apartment. Any true fan would, at that moment, get a craving for some cozy coffee and pastries from the likes of Central Perk. What they find just a few feet away, in the direction of Bleecker St, is even better — a divine Parisian haven where ardent Francophiles and hungry Friends-ophiles alike can enjoy a warm, hearty breakfast. 


Buvette isn’t easy to miss, not because of some genius architectural design or brilliant outdoor display but thanks to the long lines that crowd its bright red door. Although this may deter some from entering, the reward of waiting half an hour is a seat at a small, delicate table either in the main room or further back, near the kitchen. There is a bar to the left at the entrance, the walls adorned with vintage wine bottles and the counter laden with cheeses, fruits and bakeries. Hung on the walls are dusty mirrors, rusty pans and what appear to be abandoned jazz instruments. Despite the worn-down feel of the brick walls and the rustic decor, however, Buvette is beyond satisfactory in sanitation. The café-bistro is admittedly not abundant in space, but the cabaret-style music helps turn this tightness into a cozy atmosphere.


Thus begins an illusive adventure for the senses as Buvette slowly convinces you that you’ve reached Paris in the heart of New York.


The paper menu is proper and dainty with a pop-up that reminds you of the café’s name in case you’ve forgotten that you’re not in Paris. At the top, the menu offers a line of authentic French pâtisserie ($7), including raspberry-filled financiers that melt like butter in the mouth (perhaps due to the amount of actual butter in the madeleine-like delicacy), flaky almond croissants that can be heated by request, and soft brioches and scones. [1] Each baked good only strengthens the image of a boulangerie on the Champs-Élysées and excites the appetite in preparation for the savory dishes. 


Diners can enjoy waffle sandwiches with egg, bacon and gruyère ($16), authentic croque madames and monsieurs ($14), and avocado toast with innovative toppings such as smoked salmon or spiced yogurt ($14). The flavors are all hearty and exactly what a hungry customer needs after the long wait. The menu also dedicates an entire section to eggs ($16): steamed eggs with prosciutto and parmesan, smoked salmon and crème fraîche, or goat cheese and tomato with pesto. [1] No matter what the toppings, the eggs are perfectly scrambled to fluffy, light perfection with just the right amount of salt; if needed, beverages include water, coffee, hot chocolate, or watermelon lemonade in small jars.

A New York Magazine review of the self-named “gastrothèque” gives the bistro 4.5 out of 5 stars and two dollar signs. The review describes Buvette as “ridiculously charming” and applauds its ability to “hit the spot on any number of meal-period and appetite-specific levels.” Buvette’s specialty, according to critics Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld, is “richness”, which is ubiquitous in its culinary repertoire. The artistic, “transporting” restaurant conveys a carefree vibe that welcomes all who crave a scrumptious meal. [2]


Whether the plan for the day is to explore Chelsea Market, traverse Bryant Park or take advantage of free kayaking by Pier 26, Buvette is the perfect French way to start a day in NYC.


[1] https://static1.squarespace.com/static/57d5ccab03596e4e5bef4adb/t/5b46c8c703ce64cc88d029d4/1531365602088/Buvette+Menus+07-10-2018.pdf

[2] https://nymag.com/listings/restaurant/buvette/