The space where Duck & Buvette now stands is hard to miss. Located at the main atrium of the original building of Shangri-la Plaza Mall, I remember eating there when it used to be Cafe Provencal, an establishment that existed in that space for well over a decade. Taking the restaurant business into context, that’s almost like an eternity!
Earlier this year, the owners of this restaurant revised the concept, retaining the French fare but shedding its Mediterranean touches. A more extensive pastry offering was also added and Duck & Buvette was born. In the 5 or 6 months since it opened, I’ve heard some good things about D&B. My family ate there (without me) some time back and had good things to say as well so last weekend, I was determined to try it out!
The place was jampacked when I visited the Sunday before Christmas. The staff members looked busy running around the place and took our orders as I mulled over the relatively wide menu selection.
As I was dining with a large group, I decided to forgo the traditional 3-course meal in favor of a multitude of mostly mains to sample from. I ordered just one appetizer and no dessert. To start with, I opted for the Grilled Octopus Salad (Php 290). The dish is a fusion of French as well as Asian cuisine, as evidenced by the usage of pomelo on the salad. The sweet/salty taste made for a good contrast to the saltiness of the octopus.
Next up was the Pan Seared Hake with 3 Grains Risotto (Php 460). This humble dish turned out to be my favorite for the night. The fish was tender and juicy, with the skin slightly crispy. The taste reminded me a bit of gindara or cod, a type of fish which hake is similar to. The risotto was also very tasty and bursted with a variety of flavors.
We also had the D&B Crispy Half Duck Confit (Php 980), the specialty of the house. It came with red wine sauce but tasted just as good without. This is the first time I’ve tried duck confit here in Manila so I have no point of reference where local offerings are concerned. However, duck confit is one of my favorite dishes and I order it whenever it’s available in the restaurants I frequent in Singapore and I must say that the duck at D&B is at par with the better ones I’ve tried. As with good duck confit, the skin is crispy when pressed, revealing the succulent meat within.
By this time, it dawned on me that I had ordered what seemed like a carnivore’s meal. The Veal Shank and Smacked Corn (Php 550) came next. The meat was tender enough but my attention was more on the bacon glazed sauce and creamy smacked corn which I easily finished.
I ended the meal with another heavy dish, the Slow Braised Beef Burgundy (Php 620). Served in a pot, it’s the typical European comfort food – the type usually eaten on a cold winter’s day for warmth and energy. Like many other items on the menu, the meat’s roasted for several hours before serving so it came out really soft with the sauce extremely rich. The dish is fine on its own, but may be a bit too much if you’ve already had the veal shank.
Duck and Buvette seems to have many things going on at the same time – a full-service restaurant, a cafe and a bakery that it’s a surprise they’re able to pull everything together. And very well at that. While I only managed to try the hot dishes there, I had a great dinner and would like to return. The food is French with unmistakeable Asian touches to suit the local palate. Next time, I will have a go at their small plates and desserts.
Duck & Buvette (D&B)
2/F Old Wing, Shangri-La Plaza,
Mandaluyong, Metro Manila
Opening Hours: Daily, 11AM to 9PM
Value for money: 4/5