Los Jarros in West Kelowna

CORR Star Ratings - 3 star - yummy

On March 28, 2014, friends Sharon and Merv treated us GeriGeeks, Leslie and Annie to a meal in thanks for some computer tech help. None of us had been to Los Jarros before, but being fans of Mexican food, we decided to give it a try. We were given a couple of sharing plates of tortilla chips (topped with a very hot salsa!) to nibble on as we perused the menu.

I’m used to Tex Mex, and this was very different — ‘Authentic Mexican Cuisine’! Even the drinks were a bit unusual. We could not decide between the Tamarind Juice or the Hibiscus Iced Tea, so the server brought us all sample sizes to try out both. Our decisions were split down the middle. Two of us had the darker, sweeter Tamarind Juice, and two of us had the lighter, milder tasting pink Hibiscus Iced Tea.

 

I decided to try the most unique item I could find on the menu, the Chile Relleno. It’s a stuffed pepper that usually comes smothered in salsa. Having tasted the salsa with the tortillas (and finding it a bit too fiery) I opted to get the sauce on the side. The server told us that many people come to the restaurant specifically for this dish, and I understand why. I would certainly order it again myself.

Sharon had the Fish Taco.

Merv had the Ground Beef Taco.

Leslie had the Enchilada.

Tex Mex is often inundated with cheese and there was very little in these dishes, which surprised us. Nonetheless, it was a fun and enjoyable new authentic Mexican experience for all of us.

The Dining Experience

Quality of Food

The food was fresh tasting and served hot. We were pleased to receive complimentary tortilla chips to whet our appetites. The beverages were something unique that we’re unlikely to find elsewhere, and that is always an incentive to try them out.

The salsa was quite hot for my taste, and I would have liked there to be an option for a milder version.

Service

The service was exemplary. The waitress was very attentive, informative and helpful. We had a lot of questions and she was always available to answer them fully and was very patient with us. The food was brought to us quickly.

Ambiance

We arrived at around 7:30pm, the later end of dinner time. There were only 2 or 3 other tables dining during the time that we were there, which was a bit surprising for a Friday evening. The restaurant is small, yet divided into 2 areas, both decorated brightly. Cacti sit on shelves, and tables are draped in traditional Mexican festive colours and patterns.

Cleanliness

The restaurant was clean by average standards. The washroom had glass brick and more cacti decor.

Value for money

The average cost for an entrée was $10 which was a fair price for a meal that is extraordinary and not your typical Canadian fare.

Overall

In general, authentic Mexican cuisine can be something of an acquired taste, but I feel that Los Jarros is well worth trying if you’re a fan of Mexican food. Stay open-minded though, as it may not be quite what you’re used to!

Provechito!

Advertisements

Old Vines Restaurant at Quail’s Gate

Quail's Gate | Photo: Annie Zed

CORR Star Ratings - 4-5 star - exceptional

On Friday February 21, 2014, Hilarie, Pam and I celebrated one-month-till-spring at the Old Vines Restaurant and Wine Bar. Located on the grounds of the family-owned Quail’s Gate Winery, it sits on the slopes of Mount Boucherie in West Kelowna. Being at a winery, we each thoroughly enjoyed a glass of wine. I rarely drink, so I asked the waitress to recommend a light white wine for me. She suggested the 2012 Chasselas-Pinot Blanc-Pinot Gris. Pam had the 2011 Pinot Noir and Hilarie had the 2011 Chardonnay.

Quail's Gate | Pam, Annie, Hilarie

We sat indoors with floor-to-ceiling windows that overlooked the vineyard and Okanagan Lake.

Quail's Gate | Photo: Annie Zed

The views from the property were gorgeous.

Quail's Gate | Annie Zed

We perused the lunch menu and finally came to these decisions. Pam chose the Grilled Wild BC Salmon with Spanish style faro and chorizo, pea puree and creamy lemon chevre. The spice level was surprisingly modest and the portion was satisfying.

Quail's Gate | Grilled Wild BC Salmon | Photo: Annie Zed

Hilarie chose the Twice Baked Goat Cheese and Rosemary Souffle with lentils, apple, hazelnut, endive and lemon vinaigrette. Admittedly, the souffle was the least favourite among all the choices, but the accompaniments were interestingly delicious.

Quail's Gate | Twice Baked Goat Cheese and Rosemary Souffle | Photo: Annie Zed

I selected the Prosciutto Wrapped Maple Hills Chicken Breast with barley and wild mushroom risotto, sage and pan jus. The chicken was very tender and flavourful. We all loved the creamy yet robust texture of the risotto.

Quail's Gate | Prosciutto Wrapped Maple Hills Chicken Breast | Photo: Annie Zed

The food was amazing with delicate flavours. We all had samples from each other’s plates, of course!

Quail's Gate | Hilarie | Photo: Annie Zed

Afterward, when the waitress described the dessert special, Deconstructed Red Velvet Cake, we could not refuse it. It included a cream cheese parfait with a strawberry centre, chocolate cremaux, pieces of cake, roasted raspberry ice cream and a white chocolate garnish.

Quail's Gate | Deconstructed Red Velvet Cake | Photo: Annie Zed

The restaurant itself had pleasant decor.

Quail's Gate | Photo: Annie Zed

Afterward, we checked out the Wine and Gift Shop.

Quail's Gate | Photo: Annie Zed

In the centre of the shop was a beautiful fireplace. By the far window, some people were wine-tasting.

Quail's Gate | Photo: Annie Zed

As we left, the sky had a lovely light, ever-changing the view across the vineyard.

Quail's Gate | Photo: Annie Zed

The Dining Experience

Quality of Food

The ingredients were fresh, with unique combinations of local and regional ingredients that appeal to a fine palate. Wine pairings were suggested on the menus. While the portions were more akin to what is expected at gourmet restaurants, quantities were more than adequate for lunch.

Service

We arrived early for our 1 p.m. reservation and were seated immediately. There were only a few guests at this time, but two waiting staff among all. Our waitress was very helpful and readily available at every moment we required attention.

Ambiance

Despite the fact that only four or five other tables were occupied, the noise volume was rather high. This was understandable being an open plan area with a long kitchen pass-through. I imagine the floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides also contributed to the sound bouncing. Voices at a table near us were often louder than the company at my own table.

Cleanliness

The restaurant was impeccably clean everywhere, including the washroom.

Value for money

We paid $120 for the three of us. This included 3 lunch main courses, 3 single glasses of wine, 1 shared dessert and 1 coffee. This total included tax (but not tip). While this is quite high in terms of an every day lunchtime meal, it seems reasonable for the quality of fare and venue when there is a special celebratory occasion.

Overall

This is a great restaurant for local people to celebrate a birthday, anniversary or special event. Tourists are likely to appreciate the picturesque location, slightly off the beaten track but worthy of a detour, especially in summertime when the vineyards are in full swing. Best to make a reservation to avoid disappointment, and allow plenty of time to take in the views and tours. Have a designated driver if you intend to do some wine sampling!