A BEACON OF EXCEPTIONAL GERMAN CUISINE
A blend of classical German fare with contemporary European cuisine, Bauhaus' menu is one of the only delectably old-world dining experiences Vancouver has to offer. Being this far West of the multicultural continent known for its richness in art and culture, it's rare to come across a genuinely European eatery, but this award-winning German kitchen gives you that oft desired escape.
Uwe Boll, the owner of Bauhaus, certainly has a reputation behind him. Wermelskirchen-born, he's an established Vancouver-based filmmaker who has directed and produced numerous films moderately adapted from video games. He has faced harsh criticism during his career, but he is definitely not one to shy away from the caustic talk. Back in 2006, he challenged his critics to a boxing match dubbed 'Raging Bull', where he won all five matches.
Boll also created a response video to a failed Kickstarter campaign where he strongly expresses his dislike for the crowdfunding site in a one and a half minute video titled "fuck you all", which he still has posted on youtube for those who are curious. To say the least, Boll is a character.
While his films may not have been well received, they did, however, produce a substantial income for the filmmaker. Boll put 10 million dollars into gutting and designing Bauhaus. Once home to Boneta, Bauhaus sits in the historic building 'The Boulder Hotel' which was built in 1890. The architect, Robert McKay Fripp, was an enthusiast of the Arts & Craft movement and believed in simple design in conjunction with quality materials. Taking on several transformations from saloon to bank to hotel, Bauhaus was able to keep some of its history through its conversion.
A proud foodie, Boll created a strongly anticipated opening by bringing in Michelin-starred chef Stefan Hartmann. Hartmann had previously opened a restaurant under his surname in Berlin which went on to receive a Michelin award, then came to Vancouver to help Uwe Boll create a new masterpiece. After accomplishing as much, he stepped down, rolling out the carpet for Tim Schulte and David Mueller, Bauhaus' new dynamic duo.
The menu at Bauhaus sits among those golden rarities where the fare placed in front of you will send a tingle up your spine. Pupils dilated and mouth watering, you're left in awe of both the presentation on the plate and the pop of colour coming not from paint or sculpture, but from the manipulation of earth's own gifts. It's easy to think there is no rarer beauty than what can be seen growing in nature, but Bauhaus has challenged that with the artworks they create solely from our natural environment.
Stating a triumph of 'refined' dining, Bauhaus certainly deserves the credit for that achievement. The amuse-bouche consisting of a stewed green tomato and fiddlehead blasts the mouth with full, balanced, and enlivening flavour. Only a spoonful seems enough to fulfill as your mind begins to automatically meditate on the rich, savoury taste left lingering in your mouth. You're already overjoyed from having chosen to come to Bauhaus and the first course hasn't even arrived at the table.
Traditional German cuisine is known for its heavy sauces, sour fermentation, and (of course) thick, fatty cuts of braised meats. Bauhaus has taken these opulent, cumbersome components and--pairing them with fresh BC flavours--devised spry delicacies which only hint at those too-hefty tastes. Elegant yet not dainty, each dish escalates from your typical schnitzel or spätzle, delivering sophisticated notes of seared asparagus, steamed nettle, or horseradish foam.
The high ceiling, open concept restaurant is enclosed with concrete, brick, and expansive black trimmed windows. The space is filled with black marble tables lined with Breuer-like chairs. The seductive bar and kitchen are cased in with wood paneling and a lowered ceiling. At night, the fantastic custom suspended linear lights combined with the cove lighting along the bench seating produces a glow of warmth against the bare concrete, creating an affability to stark modernism. The light gives depth to the tie holes in the concrete, reminding you that simplicity is still filled with articulation.
The room is designed by Andrea Greenway of Vancouver-based Studio CM whose projects include the new Dalina in Chinatown, Gastown's Buro Espresso Bar, and Yaletown's West Oak. With the name 'Bauhaus', it is not an easy task for the design to live up to the infamous school of thought. The restaurant isn't revolutionizing modernism by any means, but it is implementing the German simplistic design philosophy by embracing the bare bones of the building and limiting embellishment.
The design respects the basal of the building and its history by showcasing the brick, steel columns, and original marble while incorporating German elements like leather, tubular steel, and dark woods.
Bauhaus has unique details that create engaging stories with hand carved wooden trays for utensils, an old bank vault that stores extra napkins and servingware (with its own added detail of bullet holes), and a striking painting "This is Not Art" by Haida artist Corey Bulpitt known for his carving and graffiti art (you may have seen his large spray paint mural under the Granville Street Bridge).
There are mixed reviews in regards to the shocking contrast of the swanky dining room to the brightly-coloured graffiti covered washroom. It's clear the inspiration is from mimicking the culturally rich city of Berlin with its unexpected and creative nature. The Spanish duo Naza del Rosal and Juan Rico who make up Olliemoonsta were commissioned for the bold piece using street art, pac-man and a few Bauhaus shapes to energize the white walls and partitions. The Fazakas Gallery works in collaboration with both Bulpitt and Olliemoonsta (their work can be found here.)
The atmosphere is sleek, calm and seductive. There is an air of sophistication to Bauhaus and it's not for the faint of pocket. Perfect for a night of cocktails at the bar, a place for an impressive date, or dinner with the boss, this restaurant leaves an impression. The entrance and overall design may not feel approachable to all, but the excellent serving staff make everyone feel welcome and in awe.
We're looking forward to seeing what direction Schulte and Mueller will take this genteel European champion in, and more than excited to watch it further expand Gastown into a cultured hub of truly fine dining.
A version of this article originally appeared in HAZEL NOIX on July 30th, 2017.