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.
We sat indoors with floor-to-ceiling windows that overlooked the vineyard and Okanagan Lake.
The views from the property were gorgeous.
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.
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.
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.
The food was amazing with delicate flavours. We all had samples from each other’s plates, of course!
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.
The restaurant itself had pleasant decor.
Afterward, we checked out the Wine and Gift Shop.
In the centre of the shop was a beautiful fireplace. By the far window, some people were wine-tasting.
As we left, the sky had a lovely light, ever-changing the view across the vineyard.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!