The fourth stop on this Gastown cocktail tour with “Drunken Noms”, and “Picky Diner” was “Bauhaus”. This was a wild card, our visit was less about the cocktails, and more about “Drunken Noms” loving the place. She insisted on stopping, after the shock she earned; hearing that “Picky Diner” and myself have yet to try it for ourselves. We made this our detour, but still found some cocktails to satisfy our crawling criteria within.
A little background, “Drunken Noms” is one of the most well informed food bloggers that I know. She takes the time to stay abreast of current dining trends. What are the up and coming restaurants, what restaurants have earned what achievements, what is worth ordering from where, and even which well known chef is working in the kitchen. She is so well versed because she hates visiting a place, only to have a bad experience. So she takes the time to do the research, and ensures she is well informed; in order to only have the best. I on the other hand, eat for novelty, and eat to say that I have. I am less concerned about trying the best, and more about trying what others won’t. So today, following her lead, has allowed me to enjoy more than I thought I would. In fact I felt like quite the trendy eater being by her side. So when she told us that this is one of the only restaurants in Vancouver, with a chef that has a Michelin Star, from his previous venture: I was impressed. I was impressed by him, this restaurant; and of her, for knowing. A “Michelin Star” is one of the highest honours bestowed on to a restaurant and/or its chef by the Michelin travel guide. It is to reward a higher quality of cooking. Multiple stars can be given and stars can also be taken away.
So after that bit of education, I went in with higher expectations, and “Bauhaus” did not disappoint. We got the service I had hoped for, paired with the little touches that surprised and delighted. Small talk was achieved well before we were asked to look at our menus. Napkins were unfolded and asked to be laid across our laps. We were even offered an amuse-bouche to start. This was despite only having cocktails and ordering one appetizer to share.
An “amuse-bouche” is a single, bite-sized hors d’œuvre. They are not offered on the menu, but are served and selected according to the chef’s prerogative. This sampling was smoked skate wing with a grilled mackerel consume. “Skates” are cartilaginous fish belonging to the ray family. This was this prettiest little bite I have ever been given. The gentle flaky fish sat gently in a clear broth. Together, is was light and fragrant, a subtle fishy taste beautifully constructed. This was a nice surprised and the perfect light start. It certainly spoke to the quality we would be enjoying ahead.
The restaurant wasn’t an elaborate scene. An industrial meets modern setting: red brick walls reinforced by iron beams. The hardness both created, surrounded and protected the delicate nature of white marble table tops and white leather chairs. One each table, each place setting was set with the necessary accoutrement, and even a wooden trough for utensils to rest.
We were seated within spying distance of their semipermeable kitchen. All glass windows with metal storing shelves lining it. Two men worked in their grey smocks, their hands visible from the pass, with nothing to hide.
What stood out the most was the piece of art labeled as such. There was no beating around the bush with this piece, you knew its intentions and what the artist hoped to achieve. A large slab signed in various inks and scripts, with bold letters “A-R-T” across it. It was simply propped up, in the centre of an otherwise empty concrete wall. It certainly attracted your attention.
The same artist looked to played a role in the design of the washrooms. Given the dining area, the facilities weren’t as expected. It was an interesting juxtaposition. Formal dining meets the edginess of spray paint and graffiti. All white stalls dripping with lines of paint and a jumbled mass of scribbles inside and out. And on the adjacent wall, perhaps the artist’s signature stamped like a calling card with accompanying words of wisdom. “To create a work of art, is to create the world”. All this and the stalls were terribly narrow. The kind of narrow that forces you to go out of your way to enter and exit, if you hope to avoid touching the door and walls with your body.
To drink I went with the “Buttermilch margarita” as I have yet to have much with buttermilk in it, outside of fried chicken and dough; so I was curious how it transitioned into an alcoholic beverage. It was prepared with reposado tequila, agave, buttermilk, lemon and quince jam. You certainly got the promise of buttermilk with its sour and tart taste. It’s an acquired flavour, like expired milk for those unfamiliar. The lemon and quince helped to balance the taste and sweeten the drink.
The “Diner” went with another horseradish cocktail. The “Schmutz martini” is made using akvavit, horseradish, dry vermouth, and olive mist. You really got the olive essence from this. And with it and the intensity of the horseradish, it reminded you of an oyster, but in liquid form. This is definitely one of those drinks you have once just to try, and order a classic martini to wash it down afterwards.
Less a creative drink, and more “Nom’s” favourite cocktail: was the “boulevardier”. This version altered the traditional recipe with the use of cinnamon on top of bourbon, sweet vermouth, and campari. She wasn’t sold on the added spice and the extra warmth it brought, but she isn’t one to waste a drop.
When we asked his opinion on snacks, our friendly server recommend the “meatballs”. Prepared in a caper sauce, with mashed potatoes and green and white asparagus. It was as hearty as it read. When I hear “meatball” I think red sauce and Italian herbs. This was a dressed up meat and potatoes dish befitting of our locale. The balls had the texture of a crumbly and fluffy meat loaf. Though it was clear the sauce was the star of the dish. I would have liked more of it in a cup as is, or as a side with an open faced vegetable sandwich.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Having not tried enough, but enjoying the setting and full heartedly embracing the recommendation; I would like to return to get a better feel of the place. Maybe to enjoy more of their cuisine through the chef’s tasting menu? There also aren’t too many restaurants focused on German cuisine. Don’t deny your cravings.