Conceived by Nick Pinn and Laurie Rogencamp (Malt Dining, Malt Pier, Malt Traders) Vaquero Dining on busy Sandgate Road is hidden behind a boutique butcher.
The Albion Butchery sells charcuterie, pickled vegetables and other cured meats, as well as take-home meals. But it also protects the restaurant from the noise of the main road outside, and provides a sense of theatre for diners.
Vaquero Dining’s long, narrow space flows through to a small cobblestone courtyard. The fit-out is 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 chefs at work.
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.
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.