From the food and wines to the service and music, everything at St Vincent is a solid 10/10. Savour’s founding editor, georga spottiswood, visits the Newcastle restaurant and wine bar that’s reopened its doors
If I can offer you one piece of advice about St Vincent, it’s that you MUST go. The wine bar and restaurant on Newcastle’s Quayside has reopened its doors after three years – and it has been a huge miss.
Owned by renowned restauranteur Terry Laybourne – who also has The Broad Chare, 21, Saltwater Fish Company and Porterhouse Butcher and Grill, all based in Newcastle – St Vincent has been the last of his venues to open after the pandemic, having taken the time to rebuild the each of the businesses.
St Vincent isn’t just about the food, which is exceptional, but the wines are also at the heart of this place. The list has been curated by the team, which includes some familiar faces (if you’ve previously visited) including general manager, Matt Clarkson – who originally opened the venue with Terry – and assistant manager Francesca Merico.
Matt’s travelled the world in search of good wines to bring new interesting flavours to St Vincent; many of them from small, independent producers.
While wine might be a complex subject, admittedly I’ll stick to my known grape varieties when there’s an extensive list, Matt’s armed with serious knowledge – and is keen to get his customers to try new flavours. Plus, his laid-back, friendly approach to the subject makes it a really fun and informal experience.
We start with a Malibràn Sottoriva Col Fondo Prosecco, which Matt describes as St Vincent’s house aperitif. It’s zero dosage (sugar) and is made using a more traditional method of bottle fermentation with no added yeast. It’s cloudy in colour, very dry in flavour, has hints of citrus and tastes spectacular.
Both Matt and head chef Martin Malinowski have worked with 21 Hospitality Group for 16 years – so they have a great understanding of each other, and in turn the dishes on the menu and what works well when it comes to recommending wine with food.
The food is “simple food done well” and is made up of snacks, charcuterie, a cheese plate, small plates, large plates and extras. We opt for a variety of dishes to share, including the Nocellara del Belice olives; Lindisfarne oyster; the cheese plate; Shetland king scallops; linguine with new season asparagus and Parmesan; and zucchini fritti.
The oysters can be accompanied by hot chorizo sausages, and they add a touch of gloriousness to the morsels which are served with a mignonette sauce.
On the cheese plate is a baron bigod which is produced on a farm in Suffolk and is a British alternative to a French brie. Underneath the nutty, mushroomy rhind is a silky smooth soft cheese that’s been hand salted and aged for up to eight weeks. The Comté is rich and delicious and the Parmigiano Reggiano is aged for 36 months and has a strong flavour and crumbles at the touch. The crème de la crème is the Amarena cherries and dried figs which are then caramelised – elevating this cheese plate to the next level.
Two white wines are poured with our oysters, cheese and Shetland king scallops – which are served with white port and wild garlic.
First is the Nachschlag Bright Side of Life, a zesty German Riesling that’s crisp and fresh. Although Matt says that St Vincent tends to focus on Old World wines, many of which are from Europe, he produces a southern hemisphere Chardonnay, made in Chile, to give our palates the chance to taste the difference in the intensity of the grapes.
The chardonnay is rich and creamy and fermented in oak barrels, it has more savoury characteristics in comparison to the fruity Riesling.
“I think we were ahead of our time pre-pandemic, but people are up for trying new things now,” says Matt, who’s formed such a great relationship with his suppliers that you’ll not find some of the wines at St Vincent anywhere else in the north.
It’s on this premise that St Vincent – and all the other restaurants in the group – are looking to launch a wine club. The idea is that people will be able to order a specialist bottle of wine which they can enjoy in any of the restaurants – and Matt says they’ll be launching the concept soon.
The linguine comes with a focaccia crumb, thyme, garlic and lemon zest and the zucchini fries are definitely worth ordering if you fancy some extras.
A fruity blended red is up next and the biodynamic natural wine features Grenache and Syrah. It’s light and super drinkable. We also try a semi-sparkling red from Northern Italy that is not too sweet and surprisingly rather refreshing.
On the menu you’ll also find dishes such as grilled monkfish tail with aromatic herbs and caponata; Tuscan T-bone grilled over coals with garlic and rosemary roast potatoes (for sharing); macaroni cheese and black truffle; and bruschetta of Dorset crab with lemon tarragon and watercress.
The menu here changes with the seasons and as the venue is linked to Newcastle’s Live Theatre, there’s also a pre-theatre menu, too.
At St Vincent, time stands still as Matt, Martin and the team take your taste buds on a tour of the world. You’ll forget about the hustle and bustle of the Quayside – and for us, the miserable weather outside – and instead be swept away in a wave of good vibes.
This is THE place to go if you want a solid 10/10 for food, drinks and service.
For the full menu and wine list, or to book, visit: stvincentnewcastle.co.uk