Kelowna, with its rolling hills of epic desert landscape, luscious British Columbian pine-trees, and vast expanse of crystal clear Okanagan lake, is a place one yearns to dine outside in. It is lucky, then, that perched high above that beautiful lake and rows of picturesque vineyards, sits Home Block Restaurant, a terrace-rich expanse of a new and delicious dining institution that seamlessly fuses food with nature. Part of the CedarCreek winery, Home Block is a stunning outdoor/indoor restaurant with an exceptional patio and open plan kitchen that brings your dining experience out into the exceptional nature outside, rendering a wholly unique and enchanting experience for your time in Kelowna.
CedarCreek winery began with Senator Ross Fitzpatrick, an Okanagan born and raised senator who worked in the 40s and 50s at his father’s fruit packing and shipping company. Traversing the globe for three decades, he returned in 1986 to purchase his first Okanagan Valley winery. CedarCreek has three main wineries. The first, HomeBlock, was planted in the 1930s and is now home to the winery, tasting room, Home Block restaurant, and 50 acres of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, and Riesling. There are also two other wineries, though not near to the site: Desert Ridge Vineyard, based in the Osoyoos, and Haynes Creek Vineyard. Desert Ridge features rocky soils with retreating glacier deposits that have carved the valley out. This is the trickiest vineyard to work with, given its deep and rich deposits of stones left over by the melting glacier run off, but produces some exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. Haynes Creek is more dry and dusty, facing South East and wholly different to Desert Ridge. Too, in the Osoyoos, this continental climate vineyard produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, and Petit Verdot. CedarCreek is thus the home of the more floral and fragrant wines, the lighter grapes and delicate fruit of Pinot Noirs and Rieslings. It is no surprise, then, that this land lends itself to the fine dining that can be found at Home Block.
Holding testimony to being a true winery restaurant, Home Block’s building itself, was crafted by a Napa Valley architect renowned for bold, statement wineries, is made from fieldstone and 100-year old reclaimed barn wood. This emphasis on the earth, with its woody structure, fresh outdoor air, and visible open plan wood-fired grill creates the sense that one is united with the bounty of the Okanagan outside. Nature seeps into the cooking methods too, with the wood-fired grill being fuelled by timber from local orchards and seasoned barrel staves.
The modern European-Canadian menu further reflects this unity between food and nature. Featuring farm-to-table style food with the freshest of ingredients, the majority of the menu reflects an emphasis on vegetables, fruits, and herbs. There is Melon and Cucumber Gazpacho with prosciutto and tarragon, or a Wedge Salad with blue cheese, buttermilk, apple, walnuts and crispy onion to start. For seafood lovers, there is Crispy Squid with chilli jam and crème fraiche, and for hedonists everywhere, a Burrata salad with broccolini, cherry tomatoes, shishito peppers, balsamic and focaccia.
For mains, one can expect a succinct range of most desired items, including a pasta dish of Tortiglioni with sausage and red wine ragu and sour cream, and a Risotto with corn, basil, lemon, parmesan. There are many seafood dishes, as well as a Grilled Chicken Salad with leaves, grains, sprouted beans, parmesan, and aioli and Grilled Romanesco Zucchini dish with hummus, burnt butter and sherry vinaigrette, capers, raisins, marcona almonds and shishito peppers. And for those that want a simple staple, there’s a BLT with double smoked bacon, heirloom tomato, iceberg, mustard mayo and fries.
My guest and I arrived on a beautiful Saturday evening after a long day of exploring Kelowna’s wineries. The sun was setting on a glorious hot day, the sky lit up into a crimson red with dappled clouds over the mountains, as we entered the premises. CedarCreek is at once impressive and humble, its spectacular view onto the lake and mountains breathtaking whilst the interior remains simple, farm-like, and inviting. We sampled a few of the wines at the tasting room, which, delightfully, is free, before making our way to the impressive dining room and terrace.
Sat by the firepit and at the edge of the terrace, overlooking the magnificent view, my guest and I started our meal with sparkling water and two glasses of CedarCreek’s exceptional sparkling. The Home Block Sparkling, made by CedarCreek winemaker Taylor Whelan to perfection, this 100% Muscat Ottonel wine is a balanced, Old-world style wine. Clean and crisp yet juicy and deliciously floral, this aromatic, almost European wine, was a delight.
We began our meal with two starters, the Burrata and the Crispy Squid. The Burrata came out as a bundle of torn up focaccia with fresh tomatoes and chunks of oozing, creamy, Burrata, topped with olive oil. Rich, salty, and creamy, this was an extremely moreish dish that we finished quickly and eagerly, ranking it as one of the better Burrata’s we’d tried before. The Crispy Squid was similarly tasty, a mountain of perfectly deep-fried squid with tangy chilli jam and dips. Simple yet delicious, we enjoyed these starters with a glass each of Platinum Viognier, and Platinum Chardonnay. My favourite grape, the Viognier is expressive and aromatic, with strong notes of apricot, a luscious, viscous mouth feel and elegant flinty acidity. An absolute delight, we bought bottles of this the next day. The Chardonnay meanwhile, is a Gold Medal Winner and is farmed organically. Featuring ripe flavours, with solid acidity, this wine is fermented in French Oak barrels for structure and depth, with malolactic fermentation added in to add softness. Showing notes of mango and exotic fruits, this was an exceptional wine.
For the mains, we were recommended two dishes, the Hanger Steak with roast vine tomatoes, arugula, ricotta and chimichurri, and the Steamed Ling Cod Fillet served with spinach, white beans and mushrooms. Both came out presented well, on a bed of greens, bringing that familiar Home Block lush and vibrant nature feel to the tasty dishes. The cod was soft and sumptuous, with the mushrooms and beans giving a delightful earthiness to the meal, whilst the Hanger Steak was oozing with ricotta, juicy, and filling. To drink, we had a glass of the Platinum Pinot Noir and Platinum Merlot. Fans of Pinot Noir, we enjoyed these 21-year old vines that come together as a naturally farmed, wild fermented, bottled unfined and unfiltered wine. Light and berry-rich, this 2016 vintage made an excellent rendition of an Old-World Pinot Noir. Surprisingly, though, the Merlot trumped as our favourite. Made in the Desert Ridge Vineyard, this limited production wine, with old 352 cases, showed mature vines, a rich and deep complexity, solid acidity, and excellent structure. An extraordinary Merlot that we would gladly repeat.
For dessert, we shared the divine Dark Chocolate Budino, a glass akin to an Eton Mess of malted whipped cream, cookies and sea salt with chunks of broken up dark chocolate. Indulgent, hedonistic, and delicious, this was the great grand finale to our fantastic meal that we hoped for. Definitely worth trying. With the sun having set, and the cool evening air setting in as we scooped up the final drops of chocolate in that glass, we thanked our hospitable servers before making our way out of the restaurant, and across the cool, crisp vineyard. A feast for both the stomach and the eyes, CedarCreek’s restaurant Home Block proved an experience we were glad to have – and can only recommend you try too.
Home Block at CedarCreek
5445 Lakeshore Road
BC V1W 4S5