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….
Down a flight or two of stairs, Lalla Rookh Bar & Eating House is tucked well away from the business-minded bustle of St Georges Terrace in Perth’s CBD. Indeed, it is somewhat of a sanctuary from the traffic and the soaring glass and concrete, a relaxed ‘tavern’ (their words) that also has an enviable food and wine program. Accommodating over 500 patrons, it’s not hard to see why this is a post-work favourite for city workers, but it is so much more than that, encompassing a bar with a strong Australian craft beer program, both casual eating and more committed Italian-centric dining, as well as a wine store that is fully loaded with enviable labels.
Sommelier Jeremy Prus oversees the wine program, but it’s perhaps in the Wine Store that you’ll best appreciate his efforts. While the Bar & Eating House carry a more than healthy 160 lines, with 35 by the glass or 375 ml carafe, including seven premium pours from Coravin (think Barolo, Barbaresco, Brunello), Prus has all 500-odd bins on offer in the store. The store also ups the ante with 40 by-the-glass options, with ten via Coravin. These are available in 60 ml and 120 ml pours, and range broadly in price. There certainly aren’t many venues pouring Sylvain Cathiard Premier Cru Burgundy by the glass!
While the list for the Bar & Eating House revolves primarily around Italian and Australian wines, the Wine Store takes a broader approach, taking in the old and new worlds with depth in both producers and vintages. As befits the enoteca model, all wines are available to take away, or can be consumed in store for only a $10 supplement. And if you need a little advice, you’re in good hands here with Prus (and team) who is a Certified Sommelier with New York’s Court of Master Sommeliers.
The menu is Italian in spirit, though not slavishly traditional, with ten small plates (that can be up-sized) followed by half a dozen pasta/risotto choices, a few more pizzas, and a selection of mains, crowned with chef Alexandra Haynes’ take on the mighty bistecca alla Fiorentina, which she first cold smokes with hickory and rosemary. All this is available in the Wine Store, too, or there’s a more compact bar carte available if you prefer.