Vaquero Dining is a gorgeous Spanish-inspired dining room and bar hidden from the street in Albion, with a secret entrance via the tiny Euro-style Albion Butchery on Sandgate Road.
Here at Vaquero, old world 1930s charm meets contemporary Euro chic, with a backlit bar behind the butchery decked out with glass urns of classic cocktails, bartenders in braces, dark wood decor and the sounds of swing music. The bar opens up into the dining area, which features a leather banquette along one wall, a separate dining room for groups behind glass and a charming courtyard with mirrored Georgian windows and water feature.
The retro-inspired butcher shop is devoted to aged and cured meats, many of which hang in a glass cabinet divider with the bar, as well as divine house-made pate and terrines and in-house pickled and marinated vegetables and garlic.
The menu (which comes folded in a leather pouch) is designed to share and can be enjoyed in either the bar or dining spaces, draws on the butcher shop for its key items, with the must-try charcuterie plate with house bread and pickles up there with the best to be had in Brisbane.
Then there are the other equally delectable small plates such as Basque potatoes, fermented chilli, yoghurt and smoked butte, Manchego Cheese Custard with coal fired carrots and Dukka or the divine Organic Bendele farm duck liver parfait with pickled onion and toast.
Larger plates include Barramundi, salted cheek brandade, smoked leek and sesame, Free-range pork with roasted globe artichoke, onion and pear, or the melt-in the-mouth Rolled and Sous Vide lamb saddle, spinach sauce and horseradish cream.
While Vaquero is a carnivore’s dream, there’s also a smattering of vegetarian options such as Charred Broccoli and asparagus with sesame sauce and Shimeji Mushroom Cluster with porcini brioche and cavolo nero.
Meanwhile, Desserts include the highly-recommended Chocolate Terrine with raspberry sorbet, Gorgonzola puree with toffee figs and truffled honey or a Meringue Snowman with lemon curd, fresh berries and poky sticks.
To accompany, there’s a cracking quality wine list and not to forget, as well as a top place to dine (one of Brisbane’s best), Vaquero’s cosy bar is a great spot to settle in for a drink or two and say, a charcuterie plate.
House specialties are the urns of pre-batched classic cocktails such as the Old Fashioned, El Presidente (dating from 1910, with dark rum, grenadine and blue curacao), Negroni, Golden Sazerac (cognac, golden syrup, absinthe and bitters) and Thou Shalt Not Remember (absinthe, scotch whiskey and bitters), all of which are also available freshly made.
Otherwise, there are the popular Jar Cocktails, pre-batch mixes with perishable ingredients added, such as the Pink Flamingo, Berry Blush and Sugar and Spice.
Spirits served at Vaquero are all top-quality and mostly sourced from boutique Australian distilleries (vodka and gin) while the scotch comes from the UK, America, Japan along with a few Australian drops.
Nice to know – In a nice old-fashioned service touch, each table has a felt box for diners to store phones, glasses, wallets, umbrellas, small handbags and so forth while they eat and there’s also coat-hanging facilities just inside the bar. Behind the venture are Nick Pinn and Laurie Rogencamp, the savvy owners of other top Brisbane eateries Malt Bar & Dining and Malt Pier.
Need to know - You'll find Albion Butchery (the entrance to Vaquero Dining), next door to Artie & Mai.
*Opening times correct at time of visiting in Nov 2016.
344 Sandgate Rd