“ Address: 6 Church Walk / Richmond Upon Thames / TW9 1SN / Southwest London / England „
In my quest for good independent restaurants, rather than the usual chain restaurants found on so many high-streets, I stumbled upon this wonderful little restaurant in the heart of Richmond upon Thames. It is only a very short distance from George Street, the main shopping area, set in a small courtyard accessed by a pedestrian only passage, Church Walk, running down the side of Tescos Metro and the church. It would be easy to miss, despite being so central, unless you knew that it is there. Arguably this is a chain restaurant in that it is the "sister" restaurant of Brula, which is just a mile or so away in St. Margaret's and a third restaurant called La Saveur in East Sheen. The three restaurants together are known as "Les Amis de Brula".
The particularly charming thing about La Buvette is the courtyard, which has a few tables and a canopy in case of showers and makes an ideal place for a leisurely lunch in the summer. It is quiet, away from the busy main roads and shoppers. The restaurant is an old refectory and also provides a very pleasant dining area for when sitting outside isn't a viable option. At the weekends it tends to be quite busy, so booking would generally be required, rather than just turning up, but occasionally when there have been just two of us they have managed to accommodate us without booking.
The food is of a classic, simple, French bistro style, with a menu consisting of a few starters, soup, a selection of meat and fish main courses, a few desserts and a cheese platter or a two or three course lunchtime Prix-Fixe menu consisting of a subset of the full menu for £12 or £14.50. The menu is a single printed page with slight variations each time, although the Escargots de Bourgogne are always delicious and cost £6.50 for half a dozen as a starter. The onglet steak is another of my favourites, usually present on the menu, costing £13.50 served with garlic and herb butter, chips and salad, or you could opt for a huge roast lamb chump if you are feeling hungry. The fish dishes are very good too, although somewhat more expensive at up to about £20. There is a reasonable selection of wine or the house wine for just £12.50 or so a bottle which can also be served in small carafes or by the glass.
The toilets are not authentically French, which could be considered to be an advantage, but they are strangely situated in a separate building across the courtyard, which for those sitting outside is not an issue, but is slightly inconvenient for diners inside the restaurant. The pedestrian only access to this restaurant adds to its charm and should not cause a major inconvenience for most, with the Paradise Road car park just two minutes walk away and Richmond tube and railway station just five minutes.
The food and atmosphere at this lovely little restaurant give a very good approximation to a real French experience. It is reasonably priced and does not have the feel of a chain restaurant. I would certainly recommend eating here if you are in or near Richmond.