Food and Travels16 Jun 2010 12:14 am

Sad to say, but the semi truck was not my ride

You know the hotel in “Dirty Dancing?” The old school one that’s crazy busy in the summer with vacationing families, teenagers falling in love, people trying their hands at sailing or kayaking and packed to the gills dining rooms? That’s kind of what the Hotel Eldorado reminds me of.

It’s a really quaint hotel set built in 1926 on a particularly beautiful spot of waterfront property in Kelowna. And that’s saying something because EVERYWHERE is beautiful in Kelowna. It’s hot, it’s sunny, it’s green and there is fruit everywhere.

The hotel itself is like a big waterfront house with wood everywhere, touches of whimsy in the decor and a gorgeous view of the marina from the Lakeside Dining Room, which is where we ate.

Lakeside dining room. Does anyone happen to know if there is a story behind the missing pair of shoes in the boat?

View of the Marina on a rather unsually dreary day in Kelowna

The hotel has got quite a history. After being built in 1926 as a spot for travelers to rest in the interior of B.C., it was saved from demolition in the late 80s by a developer. It then burnt to the ground in an arson, but was reopened just a year later after being completely rebuilt. One of the coolest things remaining from the original building is the awesome retro sign out front.

I arrived in town to visit my brother early Sunday morning; 7 am. I had planned on having brunch at either one of the many wineries in town or buffet at the “El” as it is affectionately known around town. It seemed difficult to get a reservation on OpenTable for Sunday, but I eventually made two bookings. I cancelled at Quail’s Gate to eat the El. We had planned to arrive as the brunch buffet started, but turns out we were too early as the buffet starts at 9 a.m.

Instead of waiting 45 minutes for the seemingly small buffet to get set up and going, we ordered off the menu. They had the traditional offerings; pancakes and benedicts, among other things. The prices were a bit high, but reasonable. (An $8 fruit smoothie? They better bring the entire blender out for that.)

The buffet was a whopping $29.95; even though he wasn’t paying my brother refused to indulge, just on principle based on the excellent spread he’d experienced at the post-wedding brunch buffet at the Wynn in Las Vegas. I have to admit, he had a point. Even compared to the Post Hotel’s buffet, the El’s buffet was a bit lacking.

It wasn’t legal serving time, so we couldn’t get mimosas. (And they call this wine country!) With free flowing $4 Van Houtte drip coffees, we tucked into our food. Originally all three of us planned on getting the same dish but I changed my mind at the last minute and sprung for the Eldorado Benedict, which came with salmon.

Tory and Bruce got the mascarpone lavender blueberry pancakes. My brother complained the final taste was “bitter” but after having a bite I just explained it was the overly floral lavender flavour he was picking up. Lavender is a great taste to include in pancakes; it really lightened them.

The boys polished off their plates, and I think they got the better dish to be honest.

Lavender butter and saskatoon berry compote

Salmon benedict

My benedict (please, do not call them “bennies”) was ripe in flavour; the fish permeated and overpowered every bite. It was almost enough to make me wish I had kept the ham benedict they’d sent out by accident at first. The eggs WERE perfectly poached, however. The hash browns were passable. The fruit was ripe, but not particularly flavourful, which disappointed me. I think I just ordered wrong. I really do think the boys picked the best dish that day.

As we left I peered at the buffet and took some photos, since I canNOT believe there aren’t more Kelowna food bloggers who have written about it. It was quite difficult to find any non advertorial information on any restaurants in the area, actually.

The brunch had live action stations for omelettes and crepes, hot trays, and a lot of seafood such as pre-cracked Alaskan crab, salmon and such. Seemed kind of standard fare to be honest. I’m still not convinced it was worth the $29.99 charge, but it was filling up as we left. I’ve heard it’s one of the most popular brunch destinations in the Okanagan. This is probably due to the atmosphere.

The crab is always the most popular at buffets for some reason. They prepared well at the El for the contingent of crab cravers.

I was impressed with the pastry chef’s work with desserts, however.

I enjoyed our early morning breakfast at the “El”, but mostly due to company and atmosphere. Thanks to colleague and fellow blogger Shaughn Butts for the tip!

Lakeside Dining Room at the Eldorado Hotel
500 Cook Road
Kelowna, B.C.
Open daily for breakfast from 7 a.m.
Reservations for the Sunday buffet recommended

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