Restaurant Report: La Buvette in Paris

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La Buvette is a one-woman show. Camille Fourmont is not just the owner of the hyper-fashionable Paris wine bar on an unfashionably dull stretch of the Rue St.-Maur in the 11th Arrondissement, she is the sommelier, waiter, cook and dishwasher. She selects wines, fills glasses, assembles plates of food and cleans up after the tastefully tousled young things who crowd the brightly lighted room every night.

She makes it look easy. Until Ms. Fourmont, 29, opened La Buvette over the winter in a former cheese shop, she was behind the bar at Le Dauphin, the spot the chef Iñaki Aizpitarte opened once fame made it impossible to get a table at Le Chateaubriand, his restaurant next door. For almost two years, she was a cooling presence at the center of that white-hot scene.

Now Ms. Fourmont has a stage all to herself. She favors obscure wines that don't cost a lot, cult bottles from unorthodox vintners whose labels often look like arty liner notes. Haven't heard of Julien Courtois or Marcel Joubert? You'll need some guidance, which is why she's there.

Ask for a crisp white with a little funk and she might steer you to Murmure, a rustic muscat from Jean-Pierre Rietsch that stands up to decanting. "I fell in love with this little muscat last week," Ms. Fourmont said in her accented English during a recent visit. "It's very simple, and very honest, and very pure. The kind of wine I really like for this place."

The food is also simple and honest. White beans are doused in new-harvest olive oil from the specialty shop La Tête Dans les Olives and garnished with chive and garlic blossoms; pata negra ham is cut on a hand-cranked slicer in back.

On another summer evening, the most complicated dish was wild asparagus, the grassy stalks sprinkled with lemon zest and Parmesan. Dessert choices included fresh ricotta with strawberries and rhubarb jam, or a chocolate éclair.

It's just enough to get you through to the next strange bottle, or to the end of the night. As a Parisian dining companion put it, "This is what you do before you do the next thing, only you never do the next thing."

La Buvette, 67, rue St.-Maur, Paris; (33-9) 83-56-94-11. An average meal for two, without drinks or tip, is about 45 euros, about $57 at $1.25 to the euro.

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This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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