Restaurant Takeover

Why you should try the new menu at St. Vincent, right now

St. Vincent has always been a great place for a date.

The cozy 24th Street wine bar, home to a stunning list of vintages curated by sommelier David Lynch (previously of Quince and Cotogna), guaranteed a charming atmosphere, a glass of something interesting and a very good shareable plate or two.

Now, with a revamp of the restaurant's kitchen team, the food is as much a part of the draw as the wine. Combining the two creates an undeniable culinary electricity.

Chefs John Thurmond and Nathan Holden are responsible for this newfound spark. The pair met while working at Napa's Ubuntu and are often known by the name of their wildly successful pop-up, The Other Guys. Their takeover of the St. Vincent kitchen in October has us crushing hard on their eclectic, internationally inspired fare, which manages to be even better when paired with the right wine.

Chicories with bread crumbs and pistachios

A glass of something dry, white and bubbly is the ideal accompaniment for an elemental trio of seafood starters. Briny, bright Kusshi oysters ($3.50 each) embody the essence of the ocean, particularly when accentuated with a sprinkle of toasted seaweed and sesame seeds. Morsels of Dungeness crab ($6) arrive on a cloud of brown butter and lemon-laced hollandaise. Segue into a vegetable course with a delicate and clever combination of ruby red tuna crudo ($16), set alongside deeply roasted (and similarly hued) beets.

Switch to an earthy red (we tried a spicy, revelatory glass from Sicily) for your explorations of the plant kingdom, where you can taste the duo's Ubuntu influence in the uniformly excellent and interesting vegetable dishes. A salad of chicories ($15) is balanced with the crunch of bread crumbs and pistachios, whose nutty flavor is accentuated with salty slices of Parmesan. Better still is the miso-glazed roasted eggplant ($14): The meaty vegetable is really tender and served atop a surprisingly complementary swath of rosemary aioli.

Sexy as the vegetables are, Thurmond and Holden have a sure hand when it comes to meat, too. Crisp fried chicken wings ($15) are doused in a ground-up rainbow of peppercorns (including Szechuan and sancho) and brightened with dried lemon and mint. The overall effect is somehow delicate and addictively delicious (their wings include the oft-discarded tips, too). But prepare to be utterly seduced (we were) by a simple, fall comfort food main course of beef brisket ($28), served with brown butter roasted squash, Brussels sprouts and wax beans. This basic meat-veg-starch setup is intentional, Thurmond told us. "I like this course to be straightforward," he says. "The flavors we use in the starters are a little more different; they make you think more. Now, you can just enjoy and lose yourself in the meal a little more."

Lost we were, as we enjoyed each rich, savory bite—paired with a gorgeous, full-bodied red from Spain. There's really nothing left to do but give in to pure chemistry and fall madly in love. Can we make every night date night from now on?