Walk into Uli’s on any given day and you may be treated to the smell of Chef Ryan Bissel’s homemade bacon.
The longtime White Rock landmark has undergone a series of changes in the more than 20 years that it’s been a part of the community – including a location change and even new owners.
Now, under the guidance of Tyson Blume – son of Uli Blume, the restaurant’s namesake – and Bissel, the restaurant is serving up traditional dishes with a modern twist.
Aside from the food, part of the restaurant’s appeal has to be its colourful history. Mention the name Uli Blume to a longtime Peninsula resident and you’re bound to get a smile in response, along with a story about the eccentric and affable man who was at the helm of the restaurant from 1985 to 2001.
After the elder Blume sold the restaurant, he became unhappy with what he saw as a decline in quality, prompting him to second-guess his decision.
“He bought it back, but at 65, it wasn’t something he wanted to do anymore. But he was just so upset with the way things had gone. This was his legacy and he saw all this work he had put into it disappear, after years of it being this great spot in White Rock,” Tyson said.
After gaining experience while working at some of Vancouver’s top restaurants – including the now-closed Cannery and Joe Fortes – Tyson felt this was the time to start his own project. He purchased the restaurant from his father and began rebuilding the Uli brand.
With the help of his staff, it didn’t take long to bring the restaurant back to its former glory, with one new addition: Uli’s “famous burger” which features the smoky bacon Bissel makes from scratch (he also makes his own pancetta and prosciutto).
“The first year, I would go out to the sandwich board and I would ask people what they would like. And the answer was the same. People just wanted a burger, and it was the only thing I didn’t have on my menu,” Tyson said. “So, the next summer I said, let’s add a burger and let’s make it better than anyone else, then I’ll feel good about it.”
As for that burger, like everything else on the menu, there is a focus on using fresh and local ingredients.
“I don’t serve anything I wouldn’t eat, and I’m kind of a picky eater. I’ve been working in this industry my whole life,” Tyson said. “If we focus on where the food comes from, how it’s been raised, whether it’s protein or vegetables, the love that goes into that food, it will speak for itself.”
That same philosophy applies to dessert. Bissel’s dessert creations are sure to satiate any sweet-tooth – even those with dietary restrictions. For example, his chocolate quinoa cake, which is gluten-free.
For the recipe, look below.
Uli’s Orange Quinoa Chocolate Cake
2 cups cooked quinoa
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup and 2 teaspoons melted butter
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Zest of three oranges
Preheat oven to 375ºF
Grease two 8″ rounds or 12 large muffin cups
In a food processor, combine milk, eggs and vanilla.
Add quinoa and melted butter.
In a separate bowl, combine cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar.
Add dry ingredients to food egg mixture and blend.
Stir in zest.
Place in tin or pan.
Bake 40 minutes for 8″ rounds or 15 minutes for muffin tin.
Toothpick should come out dry, but chocolatey. Over-baking will result in crystallized quinoa.
Cool completely and cover in your favourite topping.