Ever since Stoneacre Pantry moved locations, the Living with Libby team has been missing our after work dinner spot, which is only a few steps away from our offices. Lo and behold, the owners of Stoneacre Pantry kept their footprint on 515 Thames Street and opened up La Vasca, a Basque style restaurant and wine bar. We sat down with the owners to dig deeper into inspirations and a dining experience that truly brings family and friends together.
1.) What inspired you to go with a Northern Spain & Southern France influence? Did you travel there? Do you have family there?
Christopher has in fact traveled quite a bit through the regions of northern Spain and Southern France known as the Basque Country. The Basque has been a culinary inspiration for chefs and diners over the decades. Basque cuisine is influenced by the abundance of produce from the sea on one side and the fertile Ebro valley on the other. The great mountainous nature of the Basque Country has led to a difference between coastal cuisine dominated by fish and seafood, and inland cuisine with fresh and cured meats, many vegetables, legumes and salt cod. The French and Spanish influence is strong also, with a noted difference between the cuisine of either side of the modern border. We feel Rhode Island has many of the same attributes geographically and we wanted to take full advantage of them. In addition to the dishes and products of the Basque Country, there are features of the way of preparing and sharing food unique to the area such as The txikiteo. This tapas crawl from bar to bar seen across Spain, but it reaches its pinnacle in San Sebastian, with hundreds of people on the streets of the old town wandering from bar to bar, each known for its specialty, whether it be Croquettes, tortillas, toast, or seafood. La Vasca take some of that inspiration and brought it to Newport.
2.) What can customers expect on your summer menu?
The menu at La Vasca is focused on pintxos, hot and cold plates, as well as Paella and options for beef and whole roasted fish to be shared on the table. Our menu will evolve seasonally but I would expect the same format which encourages sharing many snacks on the table with some of the fantastic Ciders, wines and beers we offer.
3.) Some of your menu items, (ie. Gooseneck Barnacles) are a bit intimidating, how would you describe in laymen’s term what a novice diner can expect?
The La Vasca team pride ourselves on the food and beverage knowledge we bring to each guest and we believe it is a big part of the hospitality experience. That being said, we encourage guests to try different items they may not be familiar with, such as, gooseneck barnacles which can’t be more intimidating than littlenecks, mussels or a lobster on your plate. As always we accommodate any restrictions or allergies a guest may have.
4.) We checked out your Instagram and noticed your amazing selection of dinnerware and cutlery.. Do you mind sharing with our readers where you found them?
5.) Besides the country influences, how would you explain the difference between La Vasca and Stoneacre Pantry?
Stoneacre Pantry is a restaurant inspired by the Bistro dining in the south of France. By using classic and traditional technique to create a menu that is approachable and a restaurant that is pleasing to the all the senses not simply the pallet we believe it is a true neighborhood Brasserie. La Vasca, as mentioned, is a restaurant focusing on the diversity of the menu and the opportunity of sharing many different pintxos and snack while enjoying wines and cider. Both restaurants share the focus of sustainability both within the restaurant, the community and with all the venders we choose to deal with.