Tuesday, 20 October 2015

A Truly Magical Evening: Terrace Restaurant at Mission Hill Winery

1730 Mission Hill Rd, West Kelowna, BC V4T 2E4
(250) 768-7611

Tastiness Factor: 9/10

Atmosphere: 5/5 (I would even argue 6/5!)

Service: 4.5/5

Locavore Approved? YES- The menu at the Terrace is small and concise (always a good sign!) focusing on the freshest seasonal fare that the Okanagan has to offer.  The meats and produce that they can find at any particular time are listed on the bottom of the menu, and the farms they source from are listed on their website.  The Terrace is the real deal when it comes to sourcing local as much as possible, from produce to meats to seafood.  

Reservation required?  Highly recommended, and in the summer months, you will want to book well in advance for a coveted al fresco table.  Note that they close after Thanksgiving and reopen in May.  

When making dinner reservations for our quick weekend trip to Kelowna in late September, we figured that our plans had to include at least one meal at a winery.  Upon asking friends for recommendations and doing some internet digging, there was a clear standout- Terrace Restaurant at the Mission Hill Winery.

As soon as you drive onto the property, you will see see why Mission Hill has won the Canadian Winery of the Year several times and why the restaurant is ranked among the top winery restaurants in the world.  The grandeur of the winery grounds is remarkable, with a massive set of arches to walk through as you enter, leading into a sprawling courtyard with a belltower and even an outdoor amphitheatre (find out more about the impressive architecture and go on an interactive tower here).

Unlike the larger-than-life winery grounds, the Terrace Restaurant is small and intimate, and perhaps one of the most romantic venues one could imagine.  I must admit, I was a little shocked when I realized that the whole restaurant, kitchen included, was outdoors (should have guessed with the name "Terrace"!) but even this late in the season, we were comfortable sitting there way passed dark with the overhead heaters, the cozy blankets that we were offered and, of course, the wine to warm up the insides:)  The outdoor setting, overlooking rows of grapes and the lake, was nothing short of magical, especially since we hit the jackpot with a full moon on the night of our visit!

The service was professional and polished, yet personable.  Our main server was very knowledgeable about all of our wine pairings and dishes, and took the time to explain them all in detail.  At the end, when things had died down for the night, she spent more time chatting and answering some of our questions.  Other servers came consistently to clear plates and refill water, making us feel well looked after all night long.

As mentioned, the food at the Terrace is an homage to the Okanagan.  Don't be disappointed if the online menu is not identical to the one that you get, as the small menu is constantly getting tweaked reflect the newest, freshest ingredients of the season (always a good sign!).  The menu divided into appies and mains, with a few tapas-style dishes and a few sides.  Although we definitely did not regret our decision to order a side of their heavenly french fries, the portion sizes are certainly generous enough that sides are not necessary.  In terms of drink, they have a paired wine suggestion next to each dish (from Mission Hill Winery, of course) and conveniently offer both 2oz (for tasting) and 5oz wines by the glass.  It is a fantastic opportunity to try some of their Reserve and Terroir Collection wines that are only available at the winery itself.

Here is a peek at what we enjoyed on the night of our visit:

Pear "cider" (Amouse Bouche)- I cannot think of anything that I would have enjoyed more sitting out outdoors on that fall evening than this hot drink-able soup with cinnamon and nutmeg.  They nailed it.

Homestead Farm Greens- This incredible salad tickled all of my tastebuds.  Nestled on the freshest mixed greens one could imagine were some of two of my favourite late-season ingredients- beets and rhubarb (the rhubarb vinaigrette was divine).  The flax cracker served on the side had amazing crunch and added substance to the dish.  Simple but unbelievably satisfying.

Homemade Rigatoni & Braised Beef Rib- Hubby could not stop swooning about the flavours of this starter pasta dish, with preserved tomato and rosemary broth to add depth.

Pan-Seared Okanagan Char-  Another well-composed dish.  The nicely cooked fish with great crispy skin was served over a nice cabbage slaw, with a particularly noteworthy potato smoked char cake on the side.  Some pickled apples strewn around the plate really rounded the whole dish out nicely.

Roasted Scallops- Hubby was a little less excited about this dish than the rest of the meal, but it was still no doubt well-executed with homemade capicola and risotto.

Frites- Again, we had more than enough food between our applies and mains but who can say no to frites, especially when they are this good?  They were SO crisp, perfectly salted, and served with a tangy, creamy aioli.  I eventually had to ask the server to take them away so I did not finish the whole huge bowl.

Farmer's Vegetables-  Since I did not get a lot of veg with my main, I decided to get this as a side.  And I got exactly what I bargained for- a crisp, fresh assortment of veggies sautéed in a bit of butter.

Complimentary sweet treats to bid farewell:)

Overall Verdict?
This late-fall al fresco dining experience was memorable in so many ways.  The break-taking atmosphere (complete with full moon!) is enough to make me recommend Terrace Restaurant to all visitors to this region, and fortunately the food also earned top marks. If you are looking for a magical evening, I cannot think of a better place to go.

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