It’s been open only 10 weeks and already it’s being hailed as one of Canada’s best new restaurants.
Home Block at Kelowna’s CedarCreek Estate Winery is one of 35 nominees on the best new list compiled by Air Canada and American Express.
It’s also the only Okanagan eatery to make the cut.
The full list is at CanadasBestNewRestaurants.com.
The 35-nominee list is considered the long list.
The top 10 will be revealed at a celebration Oct. 24 in Toronto, and those winners will be showcased in the November issue of Air Canada’s in-flight magazine, EnRoute.
To qualify, restaurants have to have opened over the past 12 months.
Considering that timeline, Home Block had only a short time to attract attention and make an impact.
The long list of 35 nominees was compiled from numerous recommendations by a diverse panel of food experts across the country.
Air Canada sent a writer on a month-long, cross-country dining marathon to experience them all anonymously to determine the top 10.
Home Block’s attributes are many.
First of all, it’s located at a winery.
That winery also produces exceptional wines, which are the inspiration for the foods they will be paired with.
For instance, the hake fish with hand-cut fries with a glass of the CedarCreek 2018 Platinum Block 1 Rose is a match made in heaven.
The rose won best of class at the Spring Okanagan Wine Festival’s B.C. Best of Varietal Awards.
Also on the menu is squid-ink spaghetti, risotto, wood-grilled burger, chicken cooked under a brick and hanger steak.
Don’t forget dessert.
There’s retro sticky toffee pudding, dark-chocolate bundino (custard) and rhubarb and almond tart.
Home Block is new construction and part of an extensive rebuild and remodel at the winery, which includes a new tasting room and wine-and-gift shop opening soon.
While new, the restaurant pulls from the past for much of its esthetic.
It’s architecture is modern farmhouse with stone walls, polished concrete floors, metal room, stone walls and a retractable-glass facade aimed at the panoramic view of vineyards and Okanagan Lake.
“Air Canada has explored the country every year and is committed to uncovering the stories behind culinary innovators and dining destinations, while celebrating the central role they play in our customers’ travel experiences,” said brand managing director Andy Shibata.
The other 34 nominees cover the gamut from traditional, ethnic and eclectic to vegan and meat-centric.
For instance, Frilu has a Nordic-Japanese tasting menu place in a strip mall in Thornhill, Ont.
Wayfarer is an elevated oyster house in Whitehorse.
Nowhere A Restaurant in Victoria is plant-forward.
As the name indicates, La Petit Boeuf in Calgary has lots of beef on the menu.
Ugly Dumpling in Vancouver has a menu inspired by Asian street food.
And Partake in Edmonton serves up hearty comfort food in a neighbourhood atmosphere.
“Our partnership with Air Canada is a perfect fit,” said David Barnes of American Express.
“Our card members are eager to learn more about and experience what’s new in Canada’s restaurant and culinary scenes.”