vin = wine. cent = 100. A restaurant with a wine list 100 bottles long. vincent is the latest offering from the crew behind buzo and Wine Library. Yes, that’s right, Traci Trinder, James Hird and Todd Garratt have a new baby. It’s French. They make their own cheese. Need I say more?
Housed in The Hughenden boutique hotel in Woollahra, the French-style bistro is open to hotel guests for breakfast and open to the general public for lunch Thursday-Sunday and dinner Tuesday-Sunday. The menu is designed for sharing which just means being able to try more dishes. We like the sound of that.
Branching off the lounge room of The Hughenden the dining room is long and fairly narrow, opening up to a courtyard on Queen Street. The space is quite different to buzo. The linen is gone, in its place are dark tables inside and gorgeous white marble-topped tables outside. Dark grey tiles, white bentwood chairs, a black banquette and glowing orb lights complete the fit out.
Bread and vincent butter ($3.00).
As we’d polished off a bowl of olives with a sneaky drink at Wine Library before dinner we decided to skip the olives and just order some bread to nibble on while we perused the menu. Crisp crust and delightfully chewy, the bread was good but was overshadowed by the butter. Oh yes. Salty, creamy and flavoursome house-churned butter. I need more butter like this in my life.
Baked comte custard, soubise, onion powder ($19.00).
I thought it best to start and end with cheese. And so the comte custard was the first thing we ordered and the first thing to hit the table. While it’s called a custard it’s wobbly like a panna cotta. Creamy yet airily light – the texture somewhere between a panna cotta and a soufflé if you can imagine such a thing – it simply melted in the mouth. Onion soubise, a sprinkling of onion powder and fresh chives that were born to go with the comte custard. Completely and utterly divine.
Pig’s head terrine, baby vegetables ‘a la grecque’ ($17.00).
It was a no-brainer when our waitress recommended the terrine – a layer of pig’s head terrine adorned with a variety of thinly sliced baby vegetables. Slivers of pickled beetroot, radish and carrot and a scattering of mustard seeds brought a sour and bitter quality to match the beautiful terrine. A well balanced dish without too many pickled vegetables to overwhelm the terrine, with capers adding nice little hints of saltiness and plump champignons rounding it out with their gorgeous earthiness. Each element adding its own thing without dominating.
Potato baked in hay, smoked eel butter ($5.00 each).
Em LOVES potatoes. Like really loves potatoes. It was therefore no surprise that the potato cooked in hay made its way onto our order. There’s no other way to describe this than the best jacket potato I’ve ever eaten. Beautifully fluffed up potato with delicate hints of the hay it was roasted in and a fresh lemony finish. But have I mentioned the smoked eel? The show-stopper of the dish, smoked eel butter dolloped on top of the potato to really take the dish up a notch with all its salty, smoky, buttery glory. We all wanted more of these.
Duck crepinette, rhubarb compote, mustard greens ($24.00).
Larger dishes were a little more of a discussion point as Dylan and Em both wanted the steak frites but couldn’t both order the same thing. After a quick chat with our waitress we decided to get the chicken, duck and steak. More sharing = more tasting.
I’m often drawn to duck and was curious about the crepinette. It turns out a crepinette is a small sausage parcel. Oh my, the crepinette was seasoned well, succulent and super tasty. Paired with a delicate rhubarb compote and peppery mustard greens it was a solid start to the mains.
Poulet au vin juane ($29.00).
This chicken obviously had a good life. Cooked in a bag with vin juane, a Sherry-like wine from the Jura region of France. All chicken should taste like this – like actual chicken – tender, moist pieces of chicken that simply shined. Earthy morels and other varieties of mushrooms and a vin jaune sauce the perfect partners to the chicken. The French know good food and vincent are bringing it to the Eastern Suburbs.
Steak frites ‘beurre vincent’ ($34.00).
Then the steak frites arrived with its own table-top burner (fondue styles!) Dylan was concerned his steak would be cooked too much but if you ask me this is the perfect way to keep steak warm. Topped with a dollop of glorious house-churned butter the result was luscious pieces of melt in the mouth sirloin.
And the fries? You know how shoestring fries can be totally awesome or they can be completely horrible? Well, these were the former. Seasoned well they were the perfect accompaniment to the steak. And what’s more, we tipped the whole bowl of fries onto the metal plate to keep them warm and soak up all the buttery steak juices.
Vacherin glace – raspberry, rhubarb, marc de champagne ($14.00).
Em’s choice of desert was the vacherin. As pretty as a picture with vibrant raspberry sorbet perched on top of a meringue filled with cream. It was quite light and not an overly sweet dessert with a wonderfully intense raspberry flavour. I have to admit I wanted the whole thing to myself.
Chocolate and salted caramel tart, buttermilk mousse ($14.00).
Of course my choice was the tart; the chocolate fiend in me just couldn’t go past the chocolate dessert. A dark chocolate tart that was rich and bitter but found the right balance with the addition of sweet and nicely salted caramel and an airily light buttermilk mousse. A much richer dessert than the vacherin but also right up my alley.
Fromage du jour ($16.00).
Let’s finish where we began, with cheese. House made cheese. The boys behind the buzo/Wine Library/vincent empire, Todd Garrett and James Hird, have learnt how to make their own cheese. They say they’re not the best cheese makers in the world but I’ve got to say I’m impressed. They serve one cheese each day (hence ‘fromage du jour’) which enables them to serve cheese at its optimum. Matured in house until its ripe and ready to eat, it’s a system that makes complete sense. The cheese of the day was a single milk, white rind, soft cheese. Creamy and flavoursome we all loved this on the crackers and bread.
Well priced, delicious French bistro style food, friendly waitstaff and (as always from this crew) an affordable and delicious wine list. Our first meal at vincent was a memorable one. Do what we did, order lots and share everything.
A Food Story is acquainted with vincent’s owners however the meal was paid for personally.
14 Queen Street
Woollahra NSW 2025
(02) 8039 1500