After a long day of wine tasting, sometimes the most appealing dinner is one with the right balance between creativity and comfort. On a recent visit to Kelowna, I had just such a meal at RauDZ (yes, that’s how they spell it), right on the waterfront. The menu emphasizes the hyper-local nature of many of the ingredients, yet their application is often in tried-and-true recipes that largely succeed.
That’s not to say that you can’t explore: venison carpaccio caught my eye, and the just-barely-seared meat had a wonderful gamey flavor that paired nicely with apples and walnuts. There was perhaps a bit too much of a mustard dressing that could occasionally obscure the more subtle flavors, but in all it was a fine example of RauDZ’s concept.
Grilled asparagus was delicious as well, though combining it with both a fried egg and espelette pepper hollandaise seemed like overkill. The asparagus itself was wonderfully fresh, and frankly needed little to accompany it. In what would prove to be a recurring theme, the portions were almost comically generous: something like two dozen spears on what was ostensibly an appetizer plate.
Larger plates are a mix between standbys like fish-and-chips and cheeseburgers, but here again is where the provenance of the ingredients stands out: the local cheese options on the burger were a welcome sight.
Seeing as we were visiting Canada, the chicken-leg confit poutine was also a must. Delightfully rich and messy, it certainly didn’t disappoint, though there was enough for four people to share…not that we left any behind.
The small-ish wine list is totally focused on the Okanagan Valley, to no real surprise. Many of the better known wineries in the area are represented, as well as a few up-and-comers. There are ample glass pours, and a few larger-format offerings for big groups. The cocktail menu was inventive, offering a selection of riffs on classic cocktails both well known (the Old Fashioned) and obscure (The Mother-in-Law). Plenty of local beers were also on offer.
The ambiance was somewhere between noisy and rowdy, though not in an obnoxious way. The semi-circular booths were nice for a couple, but perhaps might be a bit odd for a less-intimate group.
RauDZ offers a bit of everything for most diners: a few inventive dishes for those who wish to explore, and a wealth of well-executed classics for the rest. Portions are generous, bordering on comical, and while some dishes might be a touch on the rich side, they don’t often go uneaten.