Conceived by Nick Pinn and Laurie Rogencamp (Malt Dining, Malt Pier, Malt Traders) Vaquero Dining sits on busy Sandgate Road, hidden behind a boutique butcher.

The Albion Butchery will eventually sell charcuterie, pickled vegetables and other cured meats, as well as take-home meals. It also protects the restaurant from the noise of the main road outside, and provides a sense of theatre for diners.

Beyond the butchery, Vaquero Dining’s long, narrow space flows through to a small cobblestone courtyard. The fit-out is dominated by a roped feature wall and punctuated by hints of brass and greenery on the ceiling. Subdued lighting adds mood and depth. There’s alfresco dining in the courtyard, and a 12-seat private-dining space.

Vaquero’s open kitchen means diners can watch the magic that Pinn says is “so often hidden away”. He wanted to create something interactive.

“We encourage people to come up to the counter with a glass of wine and have a chat to the chef while things are being plated up,” he says. “We want customers to interact with us, and ask questions – it creates a more memorable experience.”

Chef Damon Porter’s (ex Aquitaine Brasserie, Malt) menu focuses on protein cooked using a Josper charcoal oven. Rolled sous-vide lamb saddle, spinach sauce and horseradish cream is a good example of the restraint on offer. “[You] let the Josper do the work,” Porter says.

The charcoal cooking doesn’t exclude vegetarians; Porter prepares a shimeji mushroom and porcini brioche dish. Grazing options come in the form of charcuterie and small plates.

Vaquero’s bar menu taps Malt Traders’ reputation for sourcing quality liquor, focusing on craft beers, independent wine and spirits, and a selection of jarred and batched classic cocktails.

Vaquero Dining
344 Sandgate Road, Albion
07 3862 3606

Hours:
Tue to Sat 11am–late

vaquerodining.com.au