La Buvette could not proclaim its Frenchness any more emphatically, with the retro-Parisian exterior a striking blue that could have been lifted straight from The Tricolore, and name and purpose stated in classic script font and oh-so Gallic drop shadow. Yes, it’s immediately clear what you’re in for at La Buvette. Well, to a degree….
Fix Wine Bar + Restaurant
Sommelier Stuart Knox got his start in the wine game after begging to be promoted from waiter to Sommelier at London institution Bibendum, Terence Conran’s first restaurant. Three years later, and the young Knox had quite the education after handling the 1500-bin wine list (compiled by Matthew Jukes at the time) and a discerning clientele at that most Michelin-themed of Michelin restaurants. On his return, Knox made somewhat of an impression at the now departed Forty One, first as sommelier, and finally as restaurant manager. But since 2006, Knox has run his own endeavour, the much-loved Fix Wine Bar on Sydney’s Elizabeth Street.
Fix Wine Bar + Restaurant has somewhat of a dual personality, mainly due to its location on the ever-busy Elizabeth Street. Proof perhaps that the long lunch will never die, Fix does healthy daytime trade, with a high ratio of suited customers. Perhaps the fact that the chateaubriand has become an un-erasable menu item for the past 13 years is testament to this. At night, that mood shifts into a more relaxed gear, though the constants of the wine-friendly European/Asian menu, and the relaxed but deeply informed service of Knox and crew, remain constants.
With about 250 wines on the list, Knox offers 100 of these by the glass or half-litre flask. Through the magic of Coravin, about 40 percent of that vinous century are premium offerings, available in 50 ml pours and increments thereof. While Knox is clearly a fan of natural wines, you won’t find any dogma at Fix. Knox’s agenda is a very personal one, to have a list that reflects his self-described “eclectic” tastes, the wines that engage him right now. And if you’re in any doubt about what interests and engages him, aside from the selections themselves, the list is punctuated with anecdotes, explanations, maps and articles, ranging from the edifying to the amusing. Indeed, it’s enough to keep any lone diners engaged right through their meal, and well beyond.