Let’s get one thing out of the way: French cuisine is intimidating because most of us in this country can’t even say bonjour without sounding—here it comes—probinsyano. In a metropolitan city like Manila, that may sound like a faux pas, but this attitude when it comes to provincial roots couldn’t be more ironic when it comes to French dining.
Duck and Buvette, located in the old wing of Shangri-La Plaza, is the protégé of Café Provençal, a more traditional café that serves rustic French cuisine. Provençal refers to a southeastern area of France, but the word itself refers to provincial areas. When you think of rolling hills, docile farm animals, and fresh produce, how can anything seem intimidating?
With this understanding, Duck and Buvette has established itself as a no-fuss French restaurant: fancy food with no dress code. Serving up traditional French flair made from scratch, their anchor dish is the Duck Confit, which is cooked in its own fat and prepared three days ahead, resulting in a crisp skin with incredibly tender meat inside.
Other must-tries are the Flamenkuch (also known as a tarte flambée) with bacon, créme fraiche, onions, and a duck egg, along with the Beef Burgundy, a popular dish from the original Café Provençal. Cap off the meal with their famous Intelligentsia coffee and some of their honey thyme and vanilla bean ice cream, and all pretense just falls away.
As for that issue with the pronounciation? Just smile and point whatever you want on the menu to the waiter, and that problem takes care of itself.
Duck & Buvette. 2/F Main Wing Shangri-La Plaza Mall, EDSA, Mandaluyong City. (02) 631 0675. https://www.facebook.com/duckbuvette.
Source: Dianne Pineda for Northern Living, “Little Charmer,” January 2015