“Are you open?”
It’s a shade before 1pm and a hopeful gentleman and his friend have wandered into Vincent, the newest member of Perth’s steadily growing wine bar fraternity. He gets the good news and flashes a smile and two thumbs up.
“We came in Wednesday, but were a bit early,” he admits with a touch of relief in his voice. He’s not the only person happy to see Vincent open for business.
Since reports of activity at the former Meat Candy site began circulating mid-last year, speculation on who and what would be moving into the space has been rife. Then, seemingly in the space of a month, signage for Vincent appeared, then came an Instagram account, followed fairly swiftly with this week’s opening.
Modelled on Parisian cave à mangers – think of them as double-duty wine shops and restaurants – such as Juveniles and the wine bar off-shoots of Yves Camdeborde’s Le Comptoir, Vincent is an unapologetically Euro-centric operation. Mata Design Studio has created a stripped back space that contrasts black bentwood chairs against white splashback tiling and exposed brick. Rosemary bushes, young lemon and olive trees and outdoor seating – some at benches, some at round bistro-style tables – evoke the memories of Mediterranean summers past. While there’s something very European vacation about Vincent, its owners hope guests will think of it as a more everyday than special occasion prospect.
“We’re just a little neighbourhood bar,” says venue manager Bayden Reed, a former manager at hip global member’s club Soho House Berlin and a one-time member of the Rockpool Bar & Grill Melbourne team. “We want people to feel comfortable. Come as you are and have a really great plate of food and a really exceptional bottle of wine in your jeans and t-shirt without having to go into a formal environment.”
The name, incidentally, is a nod to both the bar's location - the bar falls within the boundaries of the City of Vincent - as well as its wine focus: Saint Vincent, is the patron saint of winemakers. (In a neat stroke of fate, January 22 - the day after the bar's opening - was Saint Vincent's feast day).
On the topic of wine: the 200-bottle wine list focuses on French wines – Burgundy, primarily – and Italian vino with Australian and New Zealand producers making up the rest of the trifecta. This master list has been distilled into a daily edit of 10 wines by-the-glass. Alternatively, the back bar features French cognac and Armagnac as well as whiskies that have been finished in French wine casks. Gin and tonics and a single beer are also available on tap.
News that Andre Mahe, the long-serving head chef of the recently closed Must Winebar, has come aboard as chef should please those with an appetite for unfussy Gaellic cooking. Charcuterie – naturally – makes an appearance on the blackboard menu alongside steak tartare, ricotta gnudi and other proven bistro winners.
“It’s all short-order cooking: quick, nice, fresh, bang,” he says.
Mahe’s menu is compact with dishes such as prosciutto and fig salad and burrata with peach and basil speaking to an interest in seasonal flavours. For now, the full menu is available all-day with plans to offer a late-night cheese and charcuterie menu for when the kitchen has closed.
465 William Street, Perth