It’s a little bit off the beaten path, tucked, as it is, away up in the orchards of East Kelowna. But if there’s a time when a leisurely country ramble to visit The Ridge Restaurant is really a must, it’s Mother’s Day – when the pace of mom’s day should slow down for a change, giving her a chance to relish, pampered, in her role.
Located only a 10 minute drive from civilization, The Ridge Restaurant feels much further removed from the hustle and bustle of town. Set in the middle of a commercial apple orchard, on the edge of a bench, the patio and dining rooms offer a sweeping view of the countryside, Kelowna, the lake and the mountains beyond.
Originally an old farm house, the building that houses the restaurant was renovated in 2000. A number of establishments have graced the premises since then, but chef Travis Hackl has operated it as The Ridge for the last five years or so.
“I think it’s brilliantly placed, on the first bench out of the city, in the orchard and with a beautiful view,” Hackl told The Pear Tree. “It’s the best kitchen view I ever had to work from – and in the stress factor that all kitchens are, it helps to be able to stop and look around. It gives you some head space and release.”
The interior is decorated in the Regency style, with quiet colours and straight, simple lines, balancing a sense of intimacy and a feeling of grandeur.
While it evokes a feeling of home, the two small dining rooms – which can seat about 60 guests – also offer a slightly gentrified feeling.
While that, paired with a fine selection of foodstuff, is enough to attract diners during The Ridge’s five-month operating season ,Travis says it seems to be especially attractive to patrons on Mother’s Day, their busiest day of the year.
“I think the location, in an orchard on a farm, in a renovated orchard home, imparts a feeling of family and togetherness. You come up here and it’s almost like your mother’s house – or what she might like her house to be. Except you’re taken care of.”
The brunch buffet is as tantalizing visually as it is to consume and, as touching as burnt toast and weak coffee lovingly prepared and presented in bed by well-meaning children can be, it’s too tempting not to indulge in.
“Having dad and the kids cooking in the kitchen can actually be stressful for mom. The thing about going out for brunch is mom actually gets a reprieve. You can set the pace yourself and maybe get lost a little bit in your lunch,” Travis said, speculating why Mother’s Day brunches – wherever the location – are so popular these days.
In addition to the enticing spread of savories, sweets, salads, meats and cheeses, there is a popular omelet station that has been known to bring diners back for seconds and (ahem) sometimes even thirds.
The iced apple cider drink (sold by the glass, separate from the otherwise inclusive brunch bill) is also not to be missed. Produced by Kelowna Land and Orchard’s Raven Ridge Cidery, the sweet cider is made from Fuji, Braeburn and Granny Smith apples grown on site.
While not everything on the menu can boast such homegrown honours, Travis does try to draw from the Okanagan’s bounty and incorporate local, natural ingredients into his dishes as much as possible.
And while a good many local restaurants can make a similar boast, few are able to offer the same post meal attractions – an inviting orchard to stroll through, a petting zoo to visit, a farm store to shop and a tractor-pulled train tour to sit in on should you so desire.
We don’t know about you, but we’re just a little bit sorry that mothers can’t be so indulged every day of the year. But at least we have Mother’s Day. And if that’s not enough, The Ridge Restaurant is open for lunch and Sunday brunch from May through September, and year round for private evening group functions. Reservations can be made by calling 250-712-9404. For more information, visit the website.
-Story and photos by Lori-Anne Poirier