La Buvette - Best Piccalilli Ever And More!
Tucked away down the side of Tesco in Richmond, nestling beside the church, is – in my opinion - one of Richmond’s finest restaurants. La Buvette has been quietly building a loyal local custom since it first opened back in 2004 and it serves some of the very best French food available locally, at very reasonable prices. It is owned and run by the very personable Bruce Duckett, who was once the ‘Bru’ part of what used to be Brula in St Margarets.
I was there this week for a monthly meeting of the Richmond Lunch Club - a local business-networking organisation that hosts very friendly, informal monthly lunches at La Buvette. (Do check it out if you are a local business person – we’d love to see you at a future meeting) We were served the Prix Fixe menu – which at just £20 for three courses is a real steal. What’s more, it is available every day they are open, both at lunch and dinner (no bumping up the price at the weekends here).
I started with the Country Style Pork Terrine with Piccalilli. Now, I don’t actually like Piccalilli. I should admit this at the outset, but any time I see it on a menu at La Buvette I have to have the dish it accompanies, because Bruce makes his own, and it is so divine, believe me! It was served with a very acceptable - nay delicious - pork terrine, but for me the star was the pickle – I could have eaten a whole bowl of it! The other starter options were mushroom soup with persillade and garlic croutons or potted smoked haddock with sourdough toast, both of which looked delicious, and, by all accounts, were.
I was tempted by the steak frites with herb butter for my main, but in the interests of gastronomy, felt moved to try the Salmon à la Bourguignonne (mushroom, onion, bacon and red wine). Fish is rarely cooked with red wine, but when I taste a dish like this I can’t, for the life of me, understand why it isn’t more often. This plate of food was unctuous and so tasty, and the portion size was perfect. It was accompanied by creamy mashed potato. I did have slight food envy at the steak frites, which was again a generous portion and cooked to pink perfection, and also the vegetarian option looked great: Celeriacà la Grenobloise, mash potato and braised chicory.
The third course offered a choice of cheese (Brie de Meaux) crème brûlée or pink grapefruit sorbet. I confess I was more than comfortably full after two courses, but if I were at La Buvette in the evening, would have been tempted.
There are a number of different set menus at La Buvette, starting at lunchtime for just £15 (Salade verte aux noix / Steak frites / Crème brûlée or Brie de Meaux). House wines start at £19 a bottle and there is a wide selection available by the glass. In the summer one can dine al fresco in the courtyard, which is partially covered and away from traffic fumes.
If you haven’t already tried La Buvette, do check it out, as it offers brilliant food at real value for money prices. And it is nice to support a privately owned local enterprise, as opposed to one of the many chains that are in danger of turning our Arcadian haven into a faceless replica of so many other British high streets!
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