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Change can be good thing too.

WHY change a winning formula? Mike Ashley isn't the only figurehead to make the bold decision to overhaul things at a Tyneside institution in the past 12 months.

Terry Laybourne's 21 Hospitality Group closed the popular Italian restaurant Caffe Vivo after a decade last August, only to return with a month later with St Vincent.

To replace a much-loved southern European favourite with something different was a big gamble, so how does the tapas-style wine bar and restaurant appeal? WHAT IS THE PLACE LIKE? Adjoined to the Live Theatre just off Newcastle's Quayside, St Vincent is extremely stylish and, named after the patron saint of wine, would be ideal for those looking for a drink or something more sustainable.

The food comes when it is ready and there aren't conventional starters and mains, which only adds to the tapas vibe but don't mistake this for your stereotypical Spanish-themed restaurant. The booths in the corner are reminiscent of something you would see in a bistro, while the long window table, stools and other small tables look like the kind of decor you would expect to find in northern Europe.

The array of wines on offer take up a number of pages on the drinks list and a sizeable amount of space on the walls and it is the kind of place you could happily spend hours gorging yourself or just relaxing with a few glasses of wine.

AND HOW WAS THE FOOD? With 48 different dishes - plus seven desserts - on the menu, diners are spoiled for choice. Staff recommend ordering two or three dishes per person. With prices varying significantly between dishes, we initially each ordered two plates to get a grasp on how much you get for your money.

Parmesan custard with anchovy toast (PS4.80) is not your typical snack but it is something everyone should try. The combination of cheese and creaminess from the custard with the saltiness of the toast and contrast in textures were sublime.

Another colleague and I both opted for orecchiette with venison ragu and red wine (PS9.50), which was incredibly rich, packed with flavoursome meat, albeit the pasta was a tad rubbery in parts. With so much of it, you really don't need to go overboard ordering.

Perhaps the most unusual-looking dish was the asparagus, pasta and a soft poached egg (PS7.20), which just looked like component parts slapped together, but mixed made for a nice amalgamation of flavours and textures, with the tender but crunchy asparagus standing out.

The duck rillettes (PS6.60) were almost pate-like in their texture, rich and wellflavoured, while the sizeable pork and pistachio terrine (PS6.90) left you wanting more. Both came with toast and pickles to add a welcome crunch; while a spoonful of wholegrain mustard gave the terrine a hefty kick.

The dessert menu was temporarily staved off for two more dishes, one of which was a clear highlight. The harissaspiced chicken medallion (PS8.20) was aromatic and well-garnished but lacked flavour and was probably the least inspiring dish we tested out.

However, the Basque black pudding raviolis with red wine shallots (PS8.60) were sensational. The crispy triangles of black pudding were salty and stuffed to near-bursting, with the accompaniment giving it a sweetness which took it to a different level.

WHAT ABOUT THE DESSERTS? When you think of a tarte Tatin (PS5.20), you often imagine a dainty piece of pastry with a slither of apple.

This could have served as a doorstop, with an impressive amount of sweet apple covering the well-made base.

The Florentine doughnuts (PS5.50) were a warm, sugary treat perfect for dunking into the masses of accompanying strawberry jam and Chantilly cream. With six of them, you can't knock the portion size either.

Strawberries with lemon cream might not sound anything special - and at PS6, it is certainly pricey - but you would be wrong to discount it. That lemon cream is so zesty and moreish, you will be thinking about it for weeks.

ANYTHING ELSE TO ADD? My colleagues both gave their glasses of wine extremely positive reviews and the service was great - diligent and attentive but not overbearing.

The food was of very high quality on the whole - the harissa-spiced chicken the main disappointment but those black pudding raviolis were outstanding - and the quantity puts other tapas places to shame.

But when a meal for three people with two drinks each and the aforementioned food comes to more than PS100, before the 10% service charge is added on, it's still a sobering experience.

That being said, whether you're off to the theatre, just wandering down by the Quayside or simply fancy a really fresh and decadent treat, you could do far worse than this modern restaurant. St Vincent is proof that - sometimes - change can be a good thing.

ST VINCENT 29 Broad Chare, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 3DQ Telephone: 0191 232 1331 Website: saintvincentncl.co.uk Opening hours: Tuesday to Friday: 8.30am - 10pm Saturday and Sunday: 10am - 10pm Monday: Closed BY SEAN DOUGLASS

CAPTION(S):

Asparagus, pasta and soft poached egg with lemon butter

Harrisa-spiced chicken medallion with lemon and anchovy butter

Tarte tatin

Florentine doughnuts wth strawberry jam and chantilly

Parmesan custard and anchovy toast

Orecchiette with venison ragu and red wine and middle white prk and pistachio terrine

General view of St Vincent, 29, Broad Chare, Newcastle Quayside
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jun 28, 2019
Words:896
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