I don’t want to say anything bad about the other restaurants and dining establishments in this areas, but without a doubt this one is one of, if not THE, best! Here’s why:
1. The building is beautiful. Warm wood beam construction and open air views of the vineyard, lake and mountains make this a special summer spot. But I can imagine it feeling warm and cozy in the winter as well.
2. The patio is divine. On a warm August afternoon or evening (we experienced both), the comfortable chairs and large tables make for the best kind of food and wine experience: outdoors.
3. The food is so good, it’s hard to describe. I found the food fresh and flavourful, yet not overly rich. Some restaurants substitute rich, strong tasting ingredients in place of skillful flavour-making in the kitchen. I often return from dinners at these other restaurants feeling bloated and uncomfortable. Not here. Old Vines uses old-fashioned culinary skill to create excellent tasting food without side effects. There was almost a kind of incredible lightness to everything I ate.
4. The wine is top-notch. Known for their Pinot Noir among other Quail’s Gate products, Old Vines serves a variety of other local Okanagan winery products. Our favourite was the Blue Mountain Sparkling Brut - a fresh and crisp bubbly that goes well with everything.
5. The service is superior. The serving staff are friendly and knowledgeable about the food and the wine. But it’s the little things that make such a huge difference. We dined as a party of four and a party of six and each time our plates arrived and were served simultaneously – by two servers for four of us and by three servers for six of us. How many times have I eaten at a pretentious downtown restaurant and received nothing approaching this kind of service? If you lament the disappearance of quality culinary service – not formal stuffiness – this is your place.
6. The kids menu is simple and fairly priced. My smaller kids both had pasta and even they remarked how good it was. Their bowls were all but licked clean.
7. The pricing is very reasonable – for the quality and service and setting and the whole package. You can pay the same – and more these days – and come up so far short compared to Old Vines. I’m a value person – which means I want to get good value for what I pay. It bugs me to no end when I’m asked to pay the same amount and I get so much less.
8. The setting is spectacular. The verdant green of the vines sloping down to the lake and mountains opens your senses and puts you in the mood for an extraordinary dining experience.
9. Casual is cool. Don’t get me wrong, I like to get dressed up. But vineyard dining is decidedly casual, especially on the west coast. And I like the combination of great service, yet done in a casual and relaxed setting. The other dining establishments where you get good service tend to be more formal – which I find less enjoyable.
All in all, Old Vines is the premiere dining establishment in the Okanagan region. There’s no reason to not LOVE it.