By Shelley Boettcher
I’m daydreaming about travel these days — as many of us are. Here are a few wine-country restaurants to add to your travel list, next time you’re planning a trip to the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada.
Brodo Kitchen: Casual and fun, with Friday date-night packages, this place offers local wines by the glass and beer, too. The food, courtesy of chef Paul Cecconi, is unpretentious and delicious; French onion soup with pesto cheese toast, or maybe a herbed roast chicken and provolone sandwich with local greens. Add a glass of local wine — whatever’s on the go at the time — for an extra seven or eight bucks. (Penticton)
Frankie, We Salute You: A relatively new, plant-focused eatery with an all-natural wine list, plenty of creative cocktails and food that just makes you feel virtuous when you eat. The wine list is small but well-chosen, from wineries such as Moon Curser, Kitsch and Orofino. If wine isn’t your thing, there’s also Sajiva kombucha and house-made lemonades and sodas made with monkfruit syrup. (Kelowna)
Krafty Kitchen + Bar: There’s so much goodness here, it’s hard to pick just one or two or three things to eat. But the confit lamb shoulder, the street corn gnocchi and the famous vegan caesar (made with smoked tofu) will not disappoint. Oh, and the pork belly tostada. Wash it all down with wine, of course. You’ll find plenty of Okanagan labels, plus a few from further afield: choice selections from Italy, California, Ontario and Oregon, too. (Kelowna)
La Bussola: Quiet and classy, with impeccable food and service and an impressive wine list, La Bussola is the sort of place to take your entire family, grandparents too, for a very special night.
As you may guess by the name, the culinary focus is Italian; Lauretta and Francesco Coccaro grew up in Valle dell’Angelo, Italy, before coming to the Okanagan in the 1970s. They opened the restaurant in 1974 and now the next generation is involved, too. Their son Luigi Coccaro is the sommelier and when we’re not in the midst of a pandemic, he hosts educational wine dinners with a focus on Italy. (Kelowna)
Naramata Inn: Do yourself a favour and book a room for the night here, because after a meal this good (and a wine list this amazing), you will not want to leave. The food is fresh and local, created by top chef Ned Bell, so try everything you can, whatever he’s currently making. And make sure you get at least one bottle of wine from the meticulously chosen, all-BC wine list, created by award-winning sommelier Emily Walker. (Naramata)
RauDZ: Chef Rod Butters has long been a star on the valley’s food scene for years, and you’ll know why as soon as you try his creations. The recent Easter menu included 36-hour fermented focaccia buns with herb cream cheese drizzle, a fruitwood-smoked Okanagan ham with three-cheese scalloped potatoes and vanilla and lemon-curd cupcakes. The wine list covers the valley: Oliver, Lake Country, Summerland, Kelowna, Okanagan Falls, plus a couple of gems from Burgundy and Champagne, France.
Trying to create some of the Raudz magic at home? Buy yourself a copy of Butters’ cookbook, Okanagan Table: The Art of Everyday Home Cooking, and if you make only one recipe, make the cauliflower and saffron wedding soup. (Kelowna)
Salt & Brick: I always try to sit at the bar when I’m at Salt and Brick. There’s something fabulous about watching the way chef James Holmes maneuvers around the tiny space to create remarkable meals focused on seasonal ingredients and great wines. Don’t believe me? I’m not alone. Holmes and the eatery were featured on The Food Network’s Big Food Bucket List in February. (Kelowna)
Waterfront Wines Restaurant: A couple of the best meals I’ve ever had in the Okanagan were at this place. Mark Filatow, the executive chef and sommelier, rocks, and honestly, the cheese board alone is enough to convince me to return again. And again.
There’s an emphasis on local ingredients, which certainly isn’t unusual, but the fresh, creative assembly always offers delicious surprises. If you love California Italian or French cuisine, you’ll no doubt feel right at home here in this very Canadian, very lovely place. (Kelowna)