Time Out says
The mood might be old-school Melbourne laneway, but this classy Darlinghurst diner feels like a Sydney institution
When co-owners Sarah Simm and Andy Logue unlocked the doors at Bar Vincent in the winter of 2019, they did it quietly. Almost silently. Fast forward just over a year, and you still won’t find anything more than contact details and hours of operation on the restaurant’s website or an Instagram account that passes for ‘active’. What you will find, however, if you walk in early on a Thursday night, is nearly all of the seats taken. This is Sydney, after all, where the best secrets are almost never kept.
Not that Bar Vincent would have flown under the radar for long. It’s a loosely Italian restaurant in a city in love with Italian restaurants; a stone’s throw from one of the busiest intersections in town and run by industry veterans that have clocked time at local institutions like Sean’s and Billy Kwong, as well as respected Melbourne stayers such as Scopri and Pinotta. Logue also bakes excellent sourdough bread and serves it free of charge with peppery, freshly pressed olive oil the colour of a banker’s lampshade alongside. That, alone, is newsworthy.
At first glance, the handwritten menu looks terse – three entrees, three pastas, three mains, three desserts, cheese and a couple of sides. Shortly thereafter, a member of the seasoned staff will swoop in and proudly rattle off a list of specials that’s nearly as long. The overarching theme is honest food, earnestly sourced and properly cooked; the sort that’s not above partnering tender octopus tentacles with olives and waxy potatoes, or juicy roasted spatchcock with a humble panzanella salad, before drenching it all in herb-flecked olive oil and calling it a day.
This approach might come across as fuss-free, but that’s not to say uncomplicated. Consider the pastas, all of which are made by hand in-house and are small essays in details that matter. Asymmetrical snippets of maltagliati glossed in a stick-to-your-ribs rich ragu of wild boar will remind your teeth of what it means to be al dente. By contrast, ricotta gnudi spiked with silverbeet and cavolo nero somehow feel light, despite being golfball-sized and dunked in dizzyingly fragrant sage butter. The kitchen serves them all as individual courses and even takes the trouble to divide the portions neatly for you if you’re sharing.
Sure, time between courses can lag and some dishes could use a touch more acid, but the room’s shadowy sepia glow and a bottle of reasonably priced, sustainably farmed wine will put you so at ease you’ll hardly notice. Before long, your 6.30 booking will turn into a second round of amaro at 9.15, accompanied by a generous slice of lemon cake that’s fluffier than a freshly laundered towel at a luxury hotel. It shows up garnished with a bay leaf and a dune of cream, costs only $10 and, like everything else in the confines of these cavernous quarters, is a case for less being more.
Paradoxes like these are what make this little charmer such a standout. It’s a restaurant young in years but old in soul, one that almost defies convention by adhering closely to it, where lots of effort goes into making things appear effortless. By not crying out for your attention, Bar Vincent commands it.
174 Liverpool St
|Opening hours:||Tue, Sat 5-11pm; Wed-Fri noon-11pm|