Tucked away in a quiet street in Barton, Vincent feels like a sleek and stylish oasis as soon as you enter. The interior is warm, dark, inviting and sets the mood for the gastronomic delights ahead.
Co owner Ollie Ryrie tells us that the team behind Vincent wanted to establish a place to eat where they served the type of food they ate.
We are here to have their chef’s tasting menu; 6 courses that provide an insight into chef Ute Pikler’s culinary style.
You have the option of having the chef’s tasting menu on its own or paired with wine.
Ollie tells us that each dish has a best friend wine. You can pair each dish, or every two dishes. We opted to pair some of the dishes and started with a glass of the Villa Sandi Prosecco $9 and opt for a carafe of sparkling water (they serve sparkling water on tap).
As I peruse the menu I can’t help but notice that there is a progression in depth of flavours – the menu starts with sweet scallops, and ends in the more robust flavoured lamb or beef. The menu also changes with the produce, and they will cater for dietary requirements (please let them know in advance so they are prepared) as they offered to swap out a dish for us.
Scallops, speck, smoked cauliflower and dashi
The sweetness of the scallops is accentuated by the smooth smoked cauliflower puree. The dashi further enhances the earthy flavours.
Tiger prawns, saffron eschallot, romesco, almond and parsley
The crunchy almonds are a pleasant contrast to the meaty tiger prawn and the smooth romesco sauce. I get a hint of spiciness yet there is no chilli.
Barramundi, braised leek, capers and crème fraiche
Vincent’s version of fish and chips. The fish is moist and fleshy, and I can’t stop eating the fennel, potato and crème fraiche puree with the crispy capers. The thrice cooked chips – boiled, shallow fried and deep fried – come with their own aioli. Paired with 2014 Anne Sophie Fleurie Beaujolais $13
Peking duck, orange, chilli, coriander and cashew
The dish reminds me of a standard duck pancake, but instead of having the overpowering flavour of hoisin sauce, it is fresh and light. The crispy wonton, the raspberries, the hint of heat from subtle chilli, and the scattered fresh coriander, turn this peking duck into a light and elevated version of the Asian favourite.
Pork belly, creamy cabbage, apple, grapes and jus
The pork belly was tender and lean. The cabbage was made two ways – a creamy white cabbage and a red cabbage jam. The jam was divine. The baked apple and grapes added sweetness to the dish. Paired with 2014 Chateau des Jacques Beaujolais $10
Lamb rump, cauliflower florets, labneh and almond
This dish was very Moroccan inspired. The labneh was flavoured with spices. I tasted cumin, cinnamon, and perhaps cardamom. The lamb is locally sourced from Cowra and very tender. The rendering of the fat delivered a very lean piece of meat. The dish had crunchy whole almonds and a could taste the zestiness of lemon. Paired with 2013 El Cantico Rioja $11
You can elect to have the Wagyu rump instead. We opted to have the lamb as two staff told us it was their favourite, and well, you have to trust those in the know.
Vincent has three vegetarian dishes on the menu; dutch carrots, with sumac, macadamia and honey cheese mousse. Zucchini flowers, asparagus and celery salt (a few patrons at other tables ordered these and the dish looked delicious), and the Gnocchi with goat cheese, pumpkin and pear.
Vincent’s décor reminds me of a Spanish café or bistro. Irrespective of where you sit, the staff have full access to you. The atmosphere takes you away from the cold winter nights of Canberra and transports you to a cosy European location – you can feel the warmth of the space. The menu sit on the main wall, spelled out with individual letters. Ollie confessed that he had to improvise by creating stickers for the additional letters required as they run out of the letter L.
The staff are very knowledgeable and attentive. It feels like you are the only people in the restaurant despite it being full. There is three of them managing the floor and every time one of them delivers a dish, they take their time answering our questions.
Vincent Restaurant is open for dinner Tuesday to Saturday (4pm – 10pm) and opens for lunch Wednesday to Friday from 12pm.
You can make a booking online (up to a maximum of 5 people) or by calling Vincent on 02 62737773
*The So Frank team was invited by Vincent to sample their Chefs tasting menu. All opinions are their own.