Vitis, BC Wine Culture, Lindsay William-Ross – July 25, 2023

Two spots that serve up standout wine-focused experiences, breathtaking views, and elevated menus showcasing regional ingredients and flavours.

As British Columbia’s bountiful Okanagan continues to expand as a wine-growing region, so do the food options at its many wineries and resorts.

In the South Okanagan in the communities of Oliver and Osoyoos, a pair of restaurants offer standout wine-focused experiences, breathtaking views, and elevated menus showcasing regional ingredients and flavours. Both are newer on the scene and are noteworthy for food lovers who are happy to head for the hills for an incredible meal.

The Bear, The Fish, The Root & The Berry at Spirit Ridge

While its name may be a mouthful, its purpose is clear: Showcase the foods and flavours of the Syilx People of the Okanagan Nation. The restaurant, which opened in 2019, is on the property of the Spirit Ridge resort, which happens to – fittingly – be adjacent to North America’s first Indigenous winery, NkMip Cellars. Perched on the hillside overlooking Osoyoos Lake and the awe-inspiring squares and stripes of vineyards and farmlands, The Bear, The Fish, The Root & The Berry boasts the perfect patio for drinking in pre-sunset views.

Heading up the culinary team is industry veteran Chef Murray McDonald, who hails from the Maritimes but has spent his career honing his skills in some of Canada’s top kitchens, including in Vancouver at the Fairmont Pacific Rim. Storytelling is at the heart of the philosophy of this menu, which is broken into sections representing each of the four components in the restaurant’s name – essentially meat, seafood, vegetables, and sweets. The names were chosen based on the Syilx People’s traditional stories of the Four Food Chiefs.

Plates at The Bear, The Fish, The Root & The Berry are also some of the most visually stunning you will encounter on your dining adventures in the South Okanagan. No menu item better exemplifies the old “we eat with our eyes first” adage than the Salmon Platter. Designed to share, the board is filled with beet-cured gravlax, maple candied salmon chunks, and smoked salmon served with assorted pickles, mustard, and edible flowers with a giant lavash cracker.

Still, if you are looking to be wowed, choose a dish from the “bear” section that features the restaurant’s grilled meats. Presented on a large wooden board, the Slow Braised Cache Creek Natural Beef Back Ribs is a sight to behold, and the ribs themselves are rich and fall-off-the-bone tender, paired with duck fat potatoes, creamy kale, roasted veggies, and a spruce demi sauce. Save room for dessert, as their creations here are beautiful and delicious, like a rich chocolate and fruit gem inspired by Black Forest cake. Naturally, locally-sourced B.C. wines star on the drinks list, however, the bar is also turning out tasty cocktails and mocktails.

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