Wednesday, 13 March 2013

The Road to (the) Eldorado



I have always thought that a really important thing to factor in one’s living environment is the availability of a really good bar.  And by bar I really mean a good ‘chill out’ place, somewhere to relax, to decompress, to refill your spirit. 
My very favourite bar in the whole wide world happens to be the Lobby Lounge of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Manhattan.  Situated on the 35th Floor of 80 Columbus Circle, its wall of windows looks out over the southwest corner of Central Park and the rest of the Big Apple.  I could probably sit there for the rest of my life, sipping Heitz Napa Valley Chardonnay - which, brings me to what (in my opinion) makes a place special… fabulous wine and a spectacular view. Of course, yummy food doesn’t hurt, either, and the Mandarin has all three in spades.
However, my second favourite bar in the world does as well, and guess what?  It is situated right here in Kelowna.
Yes. My very second favourite bar in the whole wide world is the one at The Eldorado Hotel. Situated on the east side of the Okanagan Lake at the Eldorado Marina on Cook Road, this is a place to sit and sip - great wine, local and imported beers or inventive cocktails - while watching the boats dock (summer) or the gloriously moody weather patterns roll in and out over the mountains (winter). The staff is friendly and professional, and the ambiance actually reminds me a bit of Manhattan… it has that lovely dark wood, ‘member’s only’ ambiance of a Manhattan’s men’s club, crossed with the breezy openess of a Cape Cod yacht club.  The result is a luxurious, laid back and distinctly grown up.
If you are feeling flush, sit in one of the window tables and savour the local Quail’s Gate Chardonnay, which is utterly gorgeous. Or try one of the pretty reasonably priced martinis like the Java Jive (Sobieski Vodka, Kahlua, and fresh pressed espresso) or the High Tide (Raspberry Vodka, lychee liqueur, pineapple juice and cranberry juice). My husband also gets very excited by the single malt scotch menu, and the fact that Patron Tequila is available. And come the summer, the patio will be open and jumping with sun-worshipping socialisers, popping in for food and drink, and to spend the afternoon watching the world wander by on the boardwalk outside. I have been on the receiving end of more than one sunburned nose whiling the day away in such a blissfully relaxed fashion.
Like the Mandarin, the bar at the Eldorado also boasts a great quality casual dining menu, which ranges from beautifully prepared Crispy ‘Mediterranean style’ Calamari with Tzatziki, to Pacific Mussels, to Jerked Cornish Hen with Caribbean-style coleslaw, to the gorgeous Prime ‘El’ Burger with (subtly) rosemary-salted french fries. All are perfect to soak up any tipsiness, or put paid to hunger pangs. 
When I sit in the Eldorado, I feel at one with my universe. I also feel like I could be anywhere in the civalised world, but with the added bonus of small town friendliness and gob-stopping natural scenery. Which - actually - is exactly why I moved here.

Hotel Eldorado: 500 Cook Road, Kelowna, BC V1W 3G9.
Tel: 250 763 7500