Sarah Simm and Andy Logue tell me they’ve had people pop their heads into Bar Vincent to ask them how long they’ve been there. When the two owners respond – less than two months – the passers-by inevitably look surprised.
Bar Vincent is a restaurant that looks like it’s been doing the same thing in the same spot for many years. Simm, Logue and their friends built and designed the Darlinghurst restaurant over 10 weeks, including much of the furniture. “We walked into a mess but we could see the basic structure, we could see this place could look really good,” says Simm about the former La Pesa Trattoria site.
She was right. The corner eatery is simple and charming, with stone floors, archways and lovely natural light.
Simm (Billy Kwong) and Logue (Melbourne’s Pinotta and Scopri) are focused on getting the best out of their produce. (They’ll tell you where everything comes from and maybe the name of the farmer who reared it.) Because of that, the menu changes daily – Logue’s dishes are based on what’s available at the market.
When we visit, Logue’s shaping tortellini to be cooked and served in a simple and hearty chicken broth. He’s just baked a squadron of crusty, bronze-coloured baguettes, which he’ll slice and serve to every customer when they sit down, free of charge.
He serves us an off-menu maltagliati (roughly cut pasta squares) with braised oxtail, while other diners are eating spatchcock with polenta, kingfish carpaccio, and a simple lemon cake with ricotta. “There’ll will be different things on the menu every day, but there’ll always be oysters and fresh pasta,” says Logue. “It’s all presented as Italian, but I’d say we’re European.”
Simm, Logue’s partner in life and business, works the floor, guiding anyone who hasn’t yet learned the language and tastes of the ever-growing Australian natural-wine movement. “It’s a small list with an emphasis on minimal wines. It’s a mix of local, Italian and French. We might expand it and get some sherry, amaro and grappa,” she says.
Whether you’re here for a solo lunch of pasta (and a glass of sprightly nebbiolo) or a long feast, it’s an extremely relaxed space to be in. And that’s exactly how the duo dreamed it would be. The restaurant is named after a dining community that formed in a residential street in a Melbourne backstreet.
“It was a table where all the residents hung out and had aperitivo and chatted. It was dubbed ‘Cafe Vincent’ because one of the residents nailed up a shitty old Vincent van Gogh print near the table. It was a neighbourhood street party,” says Simm. “We just want to make a neighbourhood restaurant, somewhere we want to hang out in.”
174 Liverpool Street, Darlinghurst
(02) 8354 0881
Tue to Fri 12pm–11pm