Dining out around Kelowna/Okanagan

Friends Neighbourhood Pub (West Kelowna)

On the five-hour drive from Vancouver to Kelowna, I started out really disciplined and resisted eating Pringles in the car. But I fell asleep for a stretch and woke up feeling guilty and wanted some “stimulation” and “once you pop, you can’t stop”. I wasn’t overly hungry for dinner. So we went for something casual that would also be open late. The owner of our vacation rental recommended Friends Pub in her information manual and off we went.

The place is a little divey and older but fortunately on a Thursday night, they had a few groups for poker night and other dining in patrons. Sliders were on special so we ordered two burger and one pulled pork and NPY wanted something hot so we got a chicken penne pasta. I forget how big sliders can be and we should only have ordered two in total. And in no small part because one of my dining companions mentioned Sysco food products, then that is exactly what it tasted like to me – which you wouldn’t expect otherwise. Water-injected but tender chicken breast in a heavy cream sauce attenuated slightly with red peppers.

Tree Brewing Company (Kelowna)

One of the breweries we were most excited to visit was Tree Brewing. It came onto our radar when we ordered their Pineapple Hefeweizen at Craft Beer Market and I ordered it and thought it smells like perming solution. That’s not a great assessment but it still put the brewery on our radar and it did not disappoint. In a light industrial district of Kelowna, Tree Brewing occupies a spacious unit and we ordered two flights of four samplers amongst the four of us. They had eight beers on tap and I impulsively suggested NPY and I get two flights to try them all, but NPY does not like all beer and would be drinking most of it.

The first flight we had had Captivator Doppelbock, Raspberry Porter, Mellow Moon Pineapple Hefeweizen, and Grapefruit Radler. We both liked the raspberry porter and of course I liked the 50% beer-50% grapefruit juice radler. We only bought the porter.

The second time we went (two days later), we got another flight, this time with Grapefruit Radler and Duke’s Cider.

Surfside California Tacos [food truck] (Kelowna)

Parked just outside Tree Brewing was a food truck. How perfect since we were started to get a little hungry. Their menu of tacos was appetizing but it being late on a Friday afternoon, all they had were fish tacos, shrimp tacos, cheese quesadilla and fried pickles. A fish and shrimp taco, it was! I liked the fried shrimp taco where the shrimp was fresh and hot. The fish taco was spoiled by cilantro aioli in my opinion. :P When we returned to Tree Brewing a day later, the food truck was not there.

Blue Saffron Bistro at Volcanic Hills Estate Winery (West Kelowna)

It took a really long time to decide on where to go for dinner. Blu Saffron at Volcanic Hills was mentioned early on and it was – besides Quail’s Gate we couldn’t get into – another local winery. But maybe the menu was a tad limiting so we looked around some more and there is one really hot and trendy restaurant but neither I nor the other decision-maker agree with them not posting prices on their website. We found that Yelp reviews for even seemingly good restaurants were inconsistent and we went with the local choice.

We were seated on a patio with a great view of the Volcanic Hills vineyard and the Mt. Boucherie Winery just behind them. Our server kept extolling the talent of the head chef who had worked abroad and daily specials that supplemented the menu added more variety to the selection. We were feeling nutrient-deprived already so we ordered the spinach and arugula salad. It sounded good in theory but I thought the vegetables tasted dry, the portobello mushroom slices tasted odd, fully sliced bacon was lazy and the dressing was underwhelming.

The entrees, on the other hand, were good. The burger was presented really nicely and was very satisfying. The mussels, while not as plump as I desire, were nonetheless consistent and fresh and and the saffron cream broth was delicious.

Kekuli Cafe (West Kelowna)

There’s a place we passed on Highway 97 on the way to Lake Country called The Jammery which actually has a number of reviews and it is well-rated – this following the dearth of reviews when we looked for restaurants for dinner. But it isn’t on the way to Summerland in the least and that was our itinerary for the day along with Penticton and Naramata. Kekuli Cafe, which Cindy found in her research, is on the way and the more I read about it the more excited I was – what should we order…?

Kekuli Cafe specializes in aboriginal cuisine and has a locations in Merritt and Kelowna. It is a quick service restaurant which was a relief when we hadn’t left the house quite early enough. Between a traditional breakfast with as side of bannock as the carb and a bannock breakfast sandwich and eggs benedict on bannock and french toast bannock, I almost melted. But the “practical” choice was the breakfast sandwich for NPY while I had a Saskatoon berry yogurt topped with granola. The latter had a premium attached and I hope it is because it is difficult to get Saskatoon berries. I have my own connection to the place which guides my decisions! The bannock in the sandwich was light and fluffy and just a little sweet – I really liked the whole idea. Then, as a treat for later, we picked up a powdered triple-berry jelly donut bannock, which was also delicious.

The Pecking Room Patio and Grill at Red Rooster Winery (Naramata)

After touring our way through Naramata, we looked at the time and had to eat right away if we wanted to get to Penticton breweries before they closed. We were at Red Rooster and their patio restaurant was very inviting.

We were seated under cover – in case it rained – at a high table which put us closer to the rafters from which fake plastic snakes were draped. Was that a deterrant for birds? A few of us ordered beautiful non-alcoholic drinks served in mason jars. Now there was a limited menu and each couple ordered the chorizo pizza topped with ricotta and – surprise! – salad greens. It wasn’t so bad except there was one substitution and this was not communicated from the server who took our order to the servers who brought us food, so one of our party wasn’t happy the substitution was not made. I enjoyed the crispy black sesame topped flatbread and NPY and I agreed that the tastest spread was the plain hummus we didn’t even know would show up with the two spreads we selected.

A tasty and unique treat was presented to us at the end: candied rose and violet leaves – looked like Nerds candy but more nutritious? :D

Cannery Brewing Company (Penticton)

Cannery Brewing is “the real deal” – it is located in an old and smelly industrial warehouse carved up to house to other shops. No fanfare but it’s busy and loud inside. NPY ordered a flight that included Skaha Summer Ale, Lakeboat Lager, Naramata Nut Brown Ale and Blackberry Porter. I knew from the colour I didn’t care for the first two. The blackberry porter was really fragrant and definitely tasted like blackberry, unlike many another so-called fruit-infused beer. We really liked the maltiness of the nut brown ale and got a bottle of that.

Tin Whistle Brewing Company (Penticton)

With Cannery beer under our belt, we were off to Tin Whistle which needs both a new location and better web presence. Maybe Tin Whistle is in fact the real deal! We stood in the same room as the brewery and the server poured each sample as we got to it into plastic sampling cups – nothing for me to photograph! We sampled so many including a strawberry blonde, a blonde carried by Cactus Club Cafe, peach cream ale and Killer Bee Porter. The latter two were our favourites with the former being oh-so-fruity in fragrance and the latter was just good and malty – we bought both.

Tickleberry’s (Okanagan Falls)

Tickleberry’s was another find by Cindy and we were more than happy to break our drive for ice cream! It’s a cute spot and NPY and I agreed the branding was catchy for the sector and clientele. We also found it was super value for ice cream, too, where a “single” comes with two full-sized scoops and a smaller third one.

From bottom to top, we ordered Root Beer Float, Irish cream brownie and Mango Tango. It was indulgently satisfying.

See Ya Later Ranch Patio Restaurant (Okanagan Falls)

On our last day in the Okanagan, we were sure to visit See Ya Later Ranch. One of our friends joined the Great Estates Okanagan Wine Club and received great bottles of wine from See Ya Later amongst the other participating wineries. We weren’t sure where to eat in Okanagan Falls and See Ya Later had a good vibe. We were forewarned and several times over that the kitchen was a bit delayed, in the midst of replenishing after a rush during lunch.

The beef brisket sandwich surely looked appetizing and one of each of the three couples ordered it. I ordered the quinoa salad to give us some greens. NPY who normally wouldn’t like quinoa enjoyed the saucy mixture. When the sandwich did arrive, it was served with onion soup as a side and generally light and filling.

On this day..