Managing partner Ben Kilgour, Chef Michael Wilkins and the vibrant team at Bacaro Kitchen & Bar opened for business on Bernard Avenue in downtown Kelowna last friday. I had the fortune of taking fly-on-the-wall positioning for the hour or so prior to opening. It's these moments in life that I relish, like the day before harvest, when the fruit is heavy on the tree, or when you are just about to meet an old friend, or take off on a great trip. These are the moments when the air is alive with electricity and anticipation. I am thrilled to have shared in a little of that "magic".
I could feel the passion and determination of each of the team members, an earnest effort tempered by months of work to get here, in the casually sophisticated room with their creatively crafted, tested and curated food and cocktail menus and tasty wine list.
I sat with a glass of La Stella's LaStellina Rosato observing the efforts up to the moment of opening the doors while the team buzzed with nerves, joy, excitement and that warrior focus to make this night happen with as few hitches as anyone could expect a restaurant's first night to have.
Being pros, they succeeded. Being young, they did it with gusto.
Once the kitchen opened I was served an amuse bouche that truly amused. A nicely spiced up lamb meatball with pickled raisins, chili mint pistou and a bruleed goat cheese cap. I want another as I type this description.
Following that, came a Beach Gem Oyster with the perfect mignonette who's repipe I will eventually pry from Chef Michael Wilkins.
My first Bacaro cocktail experience began with the Holyfield - Finlandia Vodka, blackberry lavender reduction topped with wildflower honey soda, a harmonious and feminine cocktail with body and clean sweetness. The cocktail program is serious here at Bacaro. There couldn't be a stronger team, with Gerry Jobe, the man of the Okanagan Cocktail Movement, Dave Simpson of The Bartender's Guild, Harry Dosanj and Chris Hall both award-winning and renowned bartenders of their craft here in the valley. In fact, they take their drinks so seriously they've specially ordered the ultra limited edition and nearly impossible to get "Porthole" vessels designed at the world famous Aviary Bar in Chicago. Bacaro received the last two of the very small number produced this season. You can come in for an ounce of the liquid gems. Master Bartender Gerry Jobe with consultations by Dave Simpson has made the "King's Ransom", a concoction of only the "finest ingredients in the land". The Portholes are truly art pieces.
I ordered and enjoyed the Beets with harissa yogourt, pistachio, grand padano, and watercress and followed that with Salt Spring Mussels with shaved fennel, peppers, onion, garlic, marsala, and garlic crostini, as I watched the restaurant quickly fill with friends and passers-by from the busy Bernard Avenue Summer night. The plates are a good tapas-esque portion so you can order a few and keep them coming. The intangible quality that the restaurant also filled with was the "happy exhale" I felt from the team as they got in to gear and entered in to the beginning of the story of a great Kelowna gathering place.
It's been 5 days since their opening, and the next trip to Kelowna from my home base in Summerland won't be far off nor without a visit to one of my new favourite okanagan culinary and cocktail hotspots.
Congratulations Bacaro team!
Tarynn Liv Parker, Editor
Enjoy the photos below:
Chef Michael Wilkins
Bartender Harry Dosanj
last touches to the first of many ever changing wine lists
Bartender Chris Hall
Managing Partner, Ben Kilgour
Partner Chris Dennis
A motivating last pow-wow talk with the team by Ben before the big moment
attentive staff take note
Spiced lamb meatball
Beach Gem oyster
The Holyfield Cocktail
This my friends is really cool! An ice orb maker!
One gorgeous Aviary Porthole vessel filled with the "King's Ransom"
… and here's the two, because they are so gorgeous
Doors are open and the food comes out at a good pace