As you know, I’ve been a fan of Bauhaus Restaurant in Vancouver for quite some time (read my initial review in 2015). The only restaurant in Vancouver to boast a Michelin-star chef in Stefan Hartmann - one of the nicest chefs you’ll ever meet - Bauhaus raised my alarm bells when he left to elevate the humble taco at Tacofino back in April.
I hadn’t stepped foot into Bauhaus since Hartmann’s departure - it’s tough when the food is so good that you get emotionally tied to a chef! But when I recently had the opportunity to sample Bauhaus’ latest tasting menu by its new team in the kitchen, Tim Schulte (from Germany) and David Mueller (from BC), I felt it was time. Time to let go of the past and embrace a new generation of ambitious twenty-something chefs who want to colour outside the boxes and push Bauhaus beyond what we already know it can do.
So did it really go beyond what I expected? Sort of.
To be fair, these guys are still working out the kinks and trying to find their sweet spot. The menu makes you forget that you’re experiencing German fine dining - as it’s about as far a departure from it as you can get. Texture, flavour and freshness were the simple orders of the day. Nearly everything on the menu is a reflection of the city’s abundance of and proximity to fresh produce.
There’s a nod to Vancouver’s overwhelming Asian influence in a pork belly amuse buche with kimchi, for instance. Although tasty, the pork was a little overdone and I was waiting for the heat from the kimchi to sink in but it never came. I also felt the pairing with the sparkling wine was a curious choice and didn’t quite work.
The first course of spring salmon, with potato ice cream floating in a pool of leek soup was a delight, however. The salmon was perfectly poached and seared (seriously I don’t know why more restaurants in Vancouver can’t figure out how to do this properly); together with the leek soup and added texture of crunchy nuggets and roe was a silky and divine combination. The wine paired with it - Dömane Wachau Grüner Vetliner - a grape I’m starting to really appreciate - was served much too cold. By the time it warmed up a bit I had already finished my course and couldn’t quite assess the pairing. The wine itself is delicious, by the way.
The second course, Agnolotti and Summer Squash (done three ways) was a safe and tasty dish although I didn’t care for the pine nuts - a little unnecessary and left a bitter aftertaste. This course was paired perfectly with the Kunstler “Limestone” Chardonnay, a floral wine with an effervescent profile, gerwertz middle and finishes like a sauv blanc. I was honestly more interested in the wine than the dish.
By the time the third course came around however, the kitchen started to get into its groove. Another Asian nod with tuna sashimi served with avocado foam, rice paper crackers and seaweed, radish, sesame and apple, it was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted at Bauhaus. Paired with a Japanese sake, the dish is light, slightly frothy and wonderfully tasty.
And it got even better. The fourth course was a melt-in-your-mouth beef short rib accompanied by corn done three ways - popped (yes, as in popcorn), as a coulis and as a mini cob. It was a dish of incredible flavours and creativity: the salty-sweet profile was delicately balanced between the corn coulis in particular and the richness of the short rib. The chantarelle mushrooms were a nice touch albeit a bit overpowering. I wouldn’t have picked the Two Hands Syrah that was paired with it - the taste profile was a slight miss.
The fifth course, the Duck done three ways (yes, there’s a theme) was excellent in execution. I’ve never had duck foam but it was beautifully presented and with just the right amount, tickling our senses with each bite of duck confit, beetroot, onion and blackberry accompaniments. The Brunello di Montalcino is a big red pair with this course, and just when you think it’s about to take over, it settles down in the nick of time. Beautiful pairing for their best dish of the menu.
Lastly, the dessert was a nice surprise. Carrot - you guessed it, 3 ways - in a sorbet, carrot cake and slices of carrot delivering a fitting end to a surprising journey at Bauhaus. Beautifully paired with La Stella Moscato d’Osoyoos wine.
Congrats, Tim and David, you’re well on your way to creating some of the more delicate yet daring seasonal menus in the city. Now if only the wine pairings could match your creativity, flair and quality.