‘The star of NE1 Newcastle Restaurant Week’ - a review of Med-themed, Quayside spot, St Vincent

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St Vincent, Newcastle, is one of the cities best eating spots - and we got to try it, ahead of NE1 Newcastle Restaurant Week (August 7-13).

Mediterranean restaurants are ten a penny. You know the type, cheerful but cheap, swift but rather unauthentic. And if you ask nicely, they'll do you that mediocre half pizza, half pasta offering that your indecision warrants.

Yes, they're fine for a quickie lunch, a bite on the go or just a place to mop up the ever-increasing alcohol percentage in your system - but where do people wanting proper Italy, a real taste of France, European flavours right on their doorstep, go?

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Well, tread the cobbles down Broad Chare, tucked away just off Newcastle's vibrant foodie Quayside and you'll find one of this great city's culinary gems, St Vincent.

Ahead of NE1's Newcastle Restaurant Week, they were kind enough to invite NewcastleWorld down to try out their menu - and here's what we thought about it.

We visited Newcastle restaurant St Vincent - and here’s what we thought of its Mediterranean menu.We visited Newcastle restaurant St Vincent - and here’s what we thought of its Mediterranean menu.
We visited Newcastle restaurant St Vincent - and here’s what we thought of its Mediterranean menu. | Liam Kennedy

'Out came the starters and I fell in love'

From the outside, looking in, you can already see you're in for an elite experience. The clean lines, neat decor and nods to the continent give the place a real classy appeal on entrance.

Walking through the glass fronted doors, you immediately see what this place is all about - its wines. Not only is the bar lined floor to ceiling with every offering a diner, or drinker, could want, the walls around the restaurant area, too, are covered with bottles of all shapes, sizes and hues. It makes for a real immersive experience, well, if like me, you do like a tipple.

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Presented to the bar, we were asked if we'd like a drink. Slightly overawed by the selection of wines on offer on the menu, it was pages upon pages from all four corners of Europe, we went for a beer, with some salted almonds and vibrant green, juicy olives. They were a joy and helped get us, myself and my fellow diner, right in the mood for what was to come.

It was only by sitting at the bar, and not being escorted straight to the table, were we able to get a little insight into what actually goes into making this place so brilliant, picking the barman's brains on how the place works, as well as getting a sneak peak through to the kitchen, where we were to find out, the magic really happens.

Escorted to our home for the afternoon - we camped out a lot longer than we'd first planned, such was the joy of the experience - our table was adorned with freshly cut in front of our eyes focaccia, laced with rosemary and sea salt. Olive oil, of very high quality, for dipping.

I'll admit, unlike my much more adventurous fellow diner, I'm a man of simple (ish) tastes. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm no bore, but I'd say I know my limits when it comes to certain dishes. Well, that was until St Vincent grabbed hold of me and changed my thinking forever.

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The menu, only partially understandable to the untrained, or unItalian eye, I went to Google to check out the meaning of the word 'crudo'. My anxiety peaked. I'm not really a fishy guy, so raw fish is not something in my repertoire.

It's safe to say, that theory went out the window in a few short moments at St Vincent. Out came the starters and I fell in love.

It’s starter time - and while simplicity is their aim, complexity of flavour was on the agenda at St Vincent, Newcastle.It’s starter time - and while simplicity is their aim, complexity of flavour was on the agenda at St Vincent, Newcastle.
It’s starter time - and while simplicity is their aim, complexity of flavour was on the agenda at St Vincent, Newcastle. | Liam Kennedy

Thinly sliced sea bass laced with orange, giving it ceviche vibes, as well as chives (I think), soy and honey, it was like nothing I’ve ever tasted before. Well, that’s probably because I haven’t, not liking fish and all, but I’m a raw convert now and there’s no going back! That wonderful assault on the palate was accompanied by the juiciest, sweetest tomato salad, which I could not help but pair with the previously mentioned focaccia. When I say pair, I mean use to wipe up the delectable dressing it was kissed with. Simply stunning.

‘Levelling up the mains - things just keep getting better’

On to the mains, and again, this was far from a let down. In fact, you could make a case to say it was a levelling up.

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St Vincent’s fillet of sea bream, which is available as part of their NE1 Newcastle Restaurant Week offering.St Vincent’s fillet of sea bream, which is available as part of their NE1 Newcastle Restaurant Week offering.
St Vincent’s fillet of sea bream, which is available as part of their NE1 Newcastle Restaurant Week offering. | Liam Kennedy

Being a very recent fish convert, as of half an hour previous, I was again presented with a potential challenge as part of this menu. But in for a penny, in for a pound, I was in no mood to turn down the opportunity to try the fillet of sea bream.

Skin on, crispy. Turn it over to reveal the succulent flesh beneath upon a bed of confit-style potato and an acidic-dressed vegetable compilation. It all just worked. My fish fears again conquered with this ‘meaty’ offering, one which I could have asked for second helpings on, had I not wanted to retain some element of professionalism. The perfectly paired wines, of which I will come on to soon, certainly blurred the lines, somewhat.

If you like cheesy pasta with a hint of green, this one is for you - the rotolo di spinaci.If you like cheesy pasta with a hint of green, this one is for you - the rotolo di spinaci.
If you like cheesy pasta with a hint of green, this one is for you - the rotolo di spinaci. | Liam Kennedy

Aside that wonder from the deep was a pasta offering, rotolo di spinaci. Described by our wonderful host as a bit of a cheesy, spinachy ‘roly poly’. And it was such, doused in a lovely tomato sauce and adorned in toasted Parmesan. Crisp on the outside, wonderfully cheesy on the inside. My fellow diner hoovered this one up as the wine and ample food began to weigh heavy on my own appetite. Always room for pudding, though, isn’t there? Be silly not to.

‘Sweet end to a remarkable dining experience’

If you’ve got a sweet tooth, the desserts at St Vincent were to die for.If you’ve got a sweet tooth, the desserts at St Vincent were to die for.
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, the desserts at St Vincent were to die for. | Liam Kennedy

A trio of puds, with a real coffee theme greeted us for course three. A panna cotta plumped with wine and peaches as well as the old classic tiramisu and an affogato, basically a coffee shot with ice cream, for those who don’t know it.

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A light, creamy end, with a wake up kick to complete what was one of the best dining experiences I’ve had in this great city.

My dining partner for the afternoon summed it perfectly, well not for a review, by saying ‘Wow, I genuinely don’t know what to say about that’. And, to be honest, I know what he meant - it was simply mind-blowingly good.

My advice - don’t just head to St Vincent for restaurant week, treasure this place for all it is worth, pencil it into your montly schedule. This place is sure to be the star of NE1 Newcastle Restaurant Week.

Wines

The list of wines was extensive. As mentioned, we asked for some expert help on pairing them with our courses. The amazing restaurant manager Francesca, herself born and bred in Puglia, was the epitome of expertise in this area. Below are the two recommended, and subsequently downed, by myself and my wine-loving partner-in-crime for the day, my Dad.

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The first was a cloudy prosecco, with only the lightest of fizz. The second an extremely drinkable red, which at 14% was strong, but certainly did not taste like it!

Paired with starter: Sottoriva, Prosecco Col Fondo. Cloudy Prosecco, Malibran 2021. Glera, Venice, Italy.

Paired with main: Aulente Rosso, San Patrignano 2020. Sangiovese, Emilia-Romagna, Italy.

Menu

This was a personalised menu for our visit, but is representative of what is on offer at the restaurant on NE1 Newcastle Restaurant Week.

Starters: San Arrentino Tomato Salad; Sea Bass Crudo

Mains: Fillet of Sea Bream; Rotolo di Spinaci

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Desserts: Tiramisu; Peach and Vin Santo Panna Cotta; Affogato

NE1’s Newcastle Restaurant Week starts on August 7.NE1’s Newcastle Restaurant Week starts on August 7.
NE1’s Newcastle Restaurant Week starts on August 7. | Liam Kennedy

About St Vincent

Part wine bar, part restaurant, a city centre venue with a city centre buzz. St. Vincent is an after-work drinks spot, supper-with-friends place and general ‘snack-with-a-glass-or-two’ hang out with a big-hearted ‘everybody welcome’ attitude.

Inspired by the neighbourhood bars we’ve found on our travels through France and Italy, we offer interesting wines, charcuterie and crowd pleasing dishes full of punchy flavours. We’re a place where an hour spins into several without anyone noticing.

Open evenings Tuesday to Friday, all day Saturday and close late.

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To find out more about the restaurant, or for bookings, click this link.

NE1 Restaurant week at St Vincent

Available Tuesday, August 8 to Friday, August 11, from 5.30pm to 9.00pm. It is also available on Saturday, August 12 between the hours of Noon and 3pm.

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