Starting the day with a cereal-bowl-sized cup of coffee – three shots, with or without milk – is a thing in France.
But it’s not all about supreme caffeine. “They’re perfect for dunking croissants or torn-off bits of baguette with butter,” says Dom Lentz, who owns six-year-old French wine bar La Buvette with his wife Hayley Lentz.
Dedicated to the French ritual of aperitif, the Gresham Street bar usually serves natural wines, French spirits and snacks from 4pm. But its new daytime alter ego Matinal (“morning person” in French), which soft-launched two weeks ago, fires up at 7am – pouring those hulking, two-hands-necessary bowls of coffee.
The idea for day trade – which had been percolating for a while – came about as coronavirus wreaked havoc on the hospitality industry. “Everyone stopped, and it was a serious stop,” says Hayley. “And all those weeks after made us think where we wanted to take La Buvette,” Dom adds. Knowing their compact menu didn’t really translate to takeaway, they started a wine-delivery service. And the idea for Matinal came to fruition.
“This could’ve happened way earlier, but we were always too caught up in [other things],” says Dom.
Step one: coffee. Instead of plonking an intrusive machine on the bar, they opted for a built-in under-bench system from Seattle-based company Mavam. “A bartender’s coffee machine,” Dom calls it. All you see are two heads sprouting elegantly from the bar top, which leaves room for savoury quiches and lemon-meringue and almond tarts under glass cloches. Kangarilla roaster Dawn Patrol Coffee provides the beans.
Next: baked goods. “You can be a croissant asshole,” Hayley asserts. “You’ve got to have a really good croissant.” Abbots and Kinney is the pick for failsafe plain croissants and pain au chocolat. Baguettes come from a wholesale-only mother-daughter duo that Dom reckons makes “the closest thing to amazing French-quality bread that I’ve tasted in Australia”.
The rest of the menu leans on bistro classics such as croissant perdu – French toast made with croissants (the current version is slathered with lemon curd and crème fraîche). “Though we wouldn’t call ourselves purists,” says Hayley. There are also soft-boiled eggs with baguette soldiers; and scrambled eggs with sautéed tomato, and garlicky pine mushrooms, cavolo nero (a variety of kale) and goat’s curd on toast.
French staples such as croque monsieur, the fried-egg-topped croque madame, and garlic-buttered escargot have rolled over from the existing menu. And steak frites is coming soon.
With the addition of Matinal, La Buvette emulates “those corner cafes in Paris that are open from 7am to midnight,” Dom says. Think of it as somewhere you can swing by for takeaway, sit down for a speedy lunch, or linger a little longer than expected in the afternoon.
La Buvette & Matinal
27 Gresham Street, Adelaide
Tue to Thu 7am–8pm