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Trip report: Okanagan

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ChrisA Aug 24, 2009 11:22 PM

Brief notes on a week of driving around the Okanagan and area in search of good eats:

Truffle Pigs, Field: see (negative) review previously posted. Thumbs down.

Eleven22, Golden: small unassuming restaurant with pleasant service and an atypical menu. My main was nasi goreng, which one doesn't often see on a bistro menu. Not great, but fine for the price. Thumbs up.

Restaurant at Predator Ridge Resort near Vernon: we stayed here four nights and wound up eating three meals here. Wonderful patio with great views. There is a pub menu and an upscale menu. The food off the upscale menu was not up to the prices, at least, the salmon I had was severely overcooked and underseasoned, with matching sides. The pub grub was fine, though, particularly the sweet potato fries. Thumbs conditionally up.

Grapevine at Gray Monk: we had a lunch and a dinner here. Another fantastic patio. Most of the food was very good, although I was again presented with a piece of salmon which had not been respected. Thumbs up.

Boa-Thong Thai, Vernon: had a lunch here. The lunch menu consists of a small selection of curries, stir fries, and noodle dishes meant as meals, as opposed to family style dining. Cheap, tasty, fast. Recommended.

Blue Heron Pub, Vernon: if you're staying at Predator Ridge nearby dining options are limited. Blue Heron is about ten minutes away. Yet another great patio right on the lake, run of the mill but perfectly acceptable pub grub. Good selection of local wines (try the "See Ya Later" pinot, which was very oddly for sale at this pub at a lower price than at the winery we later visited). Recommended.

Old Vines at Quail's Gate: had a very good lunch here. It seems repetitive to report that, yes, they have a great patio overlooking vines leading down to the lake. Notably pleasant service, perfectly prepared and well-presented food. Recommended.

The Pasta Factory, Penticton. Erm, this place was not our choice. I'm not certain what we ate was food. Not recommended.

Cellar Door Bistro at Sumac Ridge winery: the guidebook's comparison of the winery to a Motel 7 was apt, but nonetheless the grounds are well-kept, and this was the only winery restaurant we visited which offered wine flights with meals, which is a good way to sample. There is a patio which doesn't quite offer the views of those perched on lakes or mountains but is still better than anything that can be found back home in Calgary. The food was simple but fresh and delicious, and I really enjoyed their "Pinnacle" wines, particularly the sparkling and the white, which is doubly odd as I love B.C. wine country but not so much the wines, and I don't usually drink whites. Recommended.

Passa Tempo at Nk'Mip, Osoyoos: We had one way or the other not managed to eat here on past excursions and were greatly looking forward to our meal. The woman who turned out to be our waitress introduced herself to us by way of spilling water on my partner and apologizing without breaking stride by way of muttering "it's just water." The menu, for me, was a disaster: I have a very severe tomato aversion, and six of the nine entrees featured tomato. Of the remaining three, one was the obligatory vegetarian dish which didn't interest me, one was halibut, which I'd had for lunch, and therefore I was to eat rack of lamb, which I didn't really feel like that evening. I asked the waitress to ask the kitchen if they could suggest a substitution for the bean and tomato salad which came with the duck; she looked dismayed but obliged. Ten minutes later she came back and sternly informed me that "The chef DOES NOT MAKE SUBSTITUTIONS," glowering, accusatory, and unapologetic. Now, I get that at the height of tomato season chefs want to highlight tomatos, but if you're going dominate the menu with one item it seems completely unreasonable to not allow substitutions, particularly when the diner requests that the kitchen choose the substitution. The lamb, I grant, was fine---not inventive or the sort of meal I'll remember two years from now, but fine. But I didn't enjoy it. The waitress ignored us for the rest of the evening until she brought the bill, plunked it on the table, and said, "Please give me a tip," which took the form of the words, "I apologize again for the chef's arrogance, we have this problem all the time." I'd rather eat broken glass than ever set foot in this restaurant again.

The Sonora Room at Burrowing Owl: our favorite patio in the Okanagan, wraps around the winery, perched on a hill over vines leading down the valley to Osoyoos. Sensitive after the previous night's unpleasant experience, I explained to the waitress that I cannot eat tomatoes, and she almost fell over herself assuring me that the kitchen would of course accomodate my preferences and wondered if I would prefer if they wore gloves while preparing my meal to prevent cross-contamination. It turned out that the duck confit I started with ought to have featured tomatoes in the side salad (not mentioned on menu), but the kitchen substituted grilled stone fruits, which went perfectly. This was the single best dish I had on this trip. Everything this evening was just fantastic. Highly recommended.

And now, back in Calgary.

  1. grayelf Aug 25, 2009 08:20 AM

    Great report, ChrisA. You have a way with words: "I'm not certain what we ate was food" -- 'nuff said.

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