One Michelin Star, worth it ?
Vau was recommended by my cousin’s friend, as well as being on the same Top Ten list as White Trash Fast Food. After checking out their website, it seemed very fine dining and I was quite excited as they proudly stated they have been awarded a Michelin star and 17 points on the Gault Millau after their first year of opening. This should be interesting!
I’ve noticed that in Germany most places have two sets of doors (something I fancy in calling restaurant/store limbo), and Vau’s tucked away front entrance was no different. By the time we had reached for the first door, one of the waiters already had the second door held opened for us.
My first impression of Vau was “wow”, literally. I was so glad that I had dressed up for the occasion – it was so swanky and so quiet, we actually talked in hushed tones – but I still felt a teensy weensy bit out of place. It also didn’t help that we were the only ones in the restaurant, which worried me somewhat. I felt more comfortable when the place started to fill up and chatter permeated the restaurant.
As we sat down my cousin joked that he’s found the reason why Vau is classified as “fine dining” – we were going to be eating off a 5kg plate of gold! (But in all honesty, the surprisingly heavy golden-burnished plate did kind of resemble a gold plate.)
Cheese balls!! So deliciously crunchy and cheesy.
I’m not sure what it is, but tiny food makes me coo “awwwww” without fail and this most certainly brought out the “awwwww” from me. The serviette pocket filled with bread was like a lucky dip, especially when I pulled out what looked like the tiniest loaf of bread (but it turned out to be “just” a pretzel bread, which I was told by my cousin was very common). It was really hard not to eat all the bread – they were all so fresh tasting, soft and crusty… and warm. I adore it when they serve warm bread.
Soon after we ordered, our serving waiter (there were an abundance of waiters there for seemingly a particular function) came with dishes that didn’t look like what we ordered at all.
“This is an appetiser from the chef,” he began with a pronounced German accent. The rest I’ve kind of forgotten, but I did hastily jot what I thought I heard down; my handwriting is normally atrocious and in hastily jotting the name of the dish down, I sadly can’t make out a couple of the words (fail, I know).
The soup was served warm and was lightly creamy and not at all fishy, as I was afraid it might have been. The bread the salmon was rather crunchy, but its dryness was nicely contrasted with the juiciness of the fish.
To our surprise, another appetiser from the chef arrived. I had bit of a misgiving when I heard what it was because I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to trying odd/exotic/strange food (I still haven’t been able to manage to try chicken feet!).
I think I’ve been missing out, as the ox tail was deliciously succulent and soft, well-seasoned, and the rich flavour was very well complemented by the light sweetness of the parsnip puree.
When this dish came out both my cousin and I went silent, which was quickly broken by an “oh my goodness… that looks so good!” from an envious me. It’s not the prettiest of dishes (I thought mine looked better) but it just looked… *lamely* really good.
My cousin told me that one of the variations was only okay, but the other two were exceptional (I guess two out of three ain’t bad hehe).
My first thought was: “ooo so pretty”, my second: “how do I go about eating it?”; they were just slightly too big to pop into the mouth unless I wanted to look like an uncouth cow chewing cud. I ended up halving the bread bottoms because I had trouble cutting the beef.
Sadly, all I remember is that this dish was really yummy and not much else.
If I didn’t know that beetroot is red, I would have freaked out and thought that they’ve served me a plate of blood.
The smoky flavour of the quail had subtly permeated throughout the sweetness of the soup. The quail itself was juicy and tender, I had to refrain from being a bit too appreciative of the taste and texture.
I really enjoyed this dish, which I felt was the perfect amount, but my cousin thought it was only okay as he thought there was too much beetroot and the smoky flavour was a bit over-powering.
We ooh-ed as we caught sight of our mains and it was a bit of a let down when we discovered that our fishes were overcooked (but both were perfect in the middle).
My dish redeemed itself for the absolutely gorgeous salmon roe in a blood orange sauce (sweet with a touch of sourness and saltiness) which was the perfect complement to the halibut (which at least was seasoned quite nicely). Whenever I think of halibut, I think of Top Chef and now that wonderful combination. The chicory was okay – it did add a bit of bitterness to the dish; I guess it was hard to compete with the sweetness of the blood orange.
My biggest gripe about the dish was that cake thing in the middle. I have no idea what it was or what it was doing there, but it smelled sweet, it looked like cake… and it tasted salty with cake-y texture, though more on the mushy side. It absolutely confused me and I thought it was a bit too weird. I tried all sorts of combination with the other components of the dish, but it still stuck out like a sore thumb, not really combining very well with anything.
Does anyone know what it is? Googling “weird salty cake” doesn’t really come up with useful hits hehe.
I would have to say that this was my favourite dish of the night. I thought this dish was so well thought out and executed, from the creamy smoothness of the ice cream, to the light and fluffy mousse that was fairly bursting with fresh apple flavour, and to the hidden crunchy surprise under the ice cream, adding just that little bit of contrasting texture. It was an absolute delight to eat.
I thought my cousin ordered the Mango soufflé with Indian spice, pineapple marmalade and coconut ice, but the picture above does not look like its description, no? I have no idea what he ordered… Whatever it was, it was good! He enjoyed every last spoonful of it.
I read somewhere recently that the new sweet is salty, which I guess would make sense why this dessert was a bit more savoury than what I’m use to in a dessert. That’s not to say that it wasn’t delicious, far from it, it was really good… just in an odd, savoury way.
The foam reminded me of Marcel from Top Chef Season 2, so I had a bit of a giggle to my cousin’s puzzlement since he hasn’t seen the show. The foam had a very light taste – we mused that it might have been made from the Tahiti ice cream.
Tea was served with the above assorted treats, which I felt made the dinner end on a bit of a downward note. They were okay, the only highlight was the densely flavoured passionfruit cheesecake.
Vau delivered really high quality food and it was a bit sad to see that they had stumbled on execution of the mains (it was going so well too!).
The service was extremely attentive and friendly, not at all snobby, and it’s always nice when you get a farewell as you leave. It was interesting to see that the clientele of the restaurant was upwards of those in their late 30s and were mostly businessmen (and women).
There was a lady sitting next to me (switching effortlessly between German and faintly Amercian-accented English) who seemed to be very familiar with the staff (or at least the owner or head chef, I suppose), as one of the waiters brought out a dish with a reverent murmur of “here is your usual”.
It was a very interesting experience indeed.
10117 Berlin, Germany
Ph: (030) 20 29 73 0