By Brittany Tiplady
Barrique Kitchen and Wine Bar is only one year old, and yet, it’s impression on Metro Vancouver is already long-lasting. Owner, operator, and chef, Josiah Tam, has created a generous, warm, and delicious environment at Barrique that lends to an unforgettable meal and a truly memorable experience.
Tam, (previously the sous chef at UBC’s the Nest), trained Le Cordon Bleu and tucked nearly a decade of industry experience under his belt before taking the plunge and opening Barrique last winter. After dining out frequently in Vancouver while living in the suburbs, Tam realized it was time to open something more his style right at home in White Rock.
Thus began the journey of Barrique, an upscale casual modern French bistro and Tam’s first foray as a chef/owner. The food menu pays homage to Tam’s training in classic French cuisine with a contemporary flare. The wine menu is approachable in both pricing and selection, offering gorgeous pours and bottles like the beautiful orange wine from Dirty Laundry Vineyards in the Okanagan.
However, beyond Barrique’s wonderfully curated a la carte menu is a more adventurous option. If you’re feeling like leaving it all to the chef, you’re welcome to do just that. Just be sure you come hungry.
We sat down with Chef Josiah Tam to learn more about the Trust the Chef menu at Barrique.
Tell us more about Trust the Chef tasting menu at Barrique.
Josiah Tam: Trust the Chef is based on the idea of omakase dining in Japanese cuisine, where you literally trust the chef to create a meal for you. In addition to your a la carte menu, every day I write a new tasting menu; it’s advertised as four courses but it’s typically about six courses when you count the amouse bouche and the palate cleanser.
The menu is composed of the amuse bouche, the salad course—where we try to focus on one vegetable—and then there’s a first course which is sometimes a pasta course or a risotto, or a crudo; it’s totally open to what we are excited about that day. Following that, we go into a main that is typically a heavy protein served family style, paired with vegetables that are available and in season. And then we serve a palate cleanser and a dessert.
How much is the Trust the Chef menu option?
Josiah: $55 a person. The option for wine pairings is available at $30, and $15 for a foie gras course add-on.
How is the menu curated differently than simply ordering a la carte?
Josiah: What’s on Trust the Chef is always completely off the menu, and we try to keep track of the guests that have had it before so that they aren’t double dipped on a menu item when they come back in. It’s a way to keep myself and my chefs excited about what we do. The day-to-day prep can get mundane, so this is a way for us to push ourselves creatively and a way for us to keep sharp on our techniques.
When and why would recommend that a guest order the Trust The Chef menu?
Josiah: For one, it’s a great value. Nobody ever leaves hungry when they do the Trust the Chef menu option. It’s also really fun to put yourself in somebody else’s hands and not know what’s coming. We sell it as a bit of an adventure for your meal. If somebody is an adventurous eater that’s open to trying anything, then people usually really love it.
We like to think of it as: if you’ve been to the restaurant a few times, and you’ve had a variety of things on the menu, it’s a great opportunity to try something that you know is going to be for that day, and is going to be fresh and exciting.
Where else can hungry guests have a similar experience?
Josiah: Out here [near] the [Fraser Valley], I don’t know of any. Lots of other restaurants in Vancouver proper will, for example Wildebeest, Royal Dinette, Mackenzie Room. When I’m going out to eat, this is the style I prefer. I wanted to try that out here, so we gave it a go at three-months into our restaurant opening and it was so well-received right away. It’s really become a thing that people are excited about, and we love that.
It’s been a year of learning and growth. We have a great team here at Barrique; my experience in the industry has been with a lot of turnover and need for staff and that just hasn’t been us. We have had most of our core team since the beginning and it’s been a great place to work and a great place to spend most of my days.