Newly minted Miradoro blends nicely with the existing barrel cellar, Tim Pawsey photo

We finally made it to recently unveiled Miradoro, the new restaurant at Tinhorn Creek Vineyards, in Oliver, BC.

We’ve been watching the progress (admittedly, slow at times) of this latest South Okanagan addition with interest, in part because it’s a collaboration between our long-time friends Manuel Ferreira (who owns Vancouver’s Le Gavroche) and Ken and Sandra Oldfield, who founded Tinhorn Creek with business partner Bob Shaughnessy.

When we first heard the name Miradoro (which plays on the area’s gold rush heritage) we weren’t totally convinced. But now that we’ve seen the room and sampled the menu, it seems to reflect the style and philosophy very well.

A view-kissed patio, Voth Photography

Even though the shifting sands of the economy delayed the project, once it was decided to go ahead, this impressive steel and glass building, with its sweeping south valley views, was completed in just about a year. Our first impression is that the new structure (by award-winning Okanagan architect Nick Bevanda and Vancouver design firm Hager & Associates) blends surprisingly well with the original winery and barrel cellar.

Inside it’s all about two elements: the view and the kitchen.

Miradoro's van Geest: a passion for sourcing locally, Tim Pawsey photo

We tasted several dishes at a Vancouver preview a few weeks ago, so we had some idea of what to expect, once here, from talented chef Jeff van Geest, who moved from Vancouver to head the kitchen. He’s one of a growing number of folks to leave behind the big city hustle for the valley—and is already canoeing on nearby lakes.

Jeff—one of the original West Coast ‘locavores’—ran his own regionally-driven Aurora Bistro (which helped ignite Vancouver’s Main Street culinary scene) for several years, before deciding it was no longer feasible to continue and signing on at Diva at the Met. Then, at Ferreira’s beckoning, he headed ‘east.’  The skills he brings to Miradoro are considerable—not to mention his unbridled passion for sourcing local ingredients.

The style is suitably casual, with definite Iberian and Mediterranean influences.  Miradoro’s opening menu is still in flux and will continue to evolve. In time, says van Geest, the fare and ingredients will focus increasingly on everything local and in season.

chicken 'chorizo', beef heart carpaccio, Tim Pawsey photo

Initial highlights from our visit included an excellent chicken ‘chorizo’ and beef heart carpaccio,  with just the right amount of heat to bring out the best in Tinhorn’s fresh apple and pear toned Pinot Gris 2010.

There’s no shortage of great tastes, including an array of Neapolitan style pizzas (made in the Woodstone oven and enjoyed with Tinhorn Oldfield Collection Merlot 07), and Moroccan spiced roast lamb with cous cous and carrot purée, nicely matched with Oldfield Collection Syrah 07—arguably one of the best value Syrahs in the south.

Miradoro forno roasted chicken, Tim Pawsey photo

One definite hit of the night  was the chef’s forno roasted chicken, tangled with potatoes, bacon and sage, and paired with the well balanced, fruit forward and now well evolved (and well priced) Tinhorn Creek 2Bench Red 07.

Dessert was an impossible-to-leave-on-your-plate, oozing dolce de leche frita—quite extraordinary with the richness but clean acidity of Oldfield Series Kerner Icewine 09.

Shaping a restaurant of this kind presents no end of challenges, which fluctuate throughout the year, depending on the season,  the changing clientele, their expectations and their budgets. It will be interesting to see how Miradoro balances plate style and pricing to successfully accommodate all comers. However, we were impressed and surprised, not only by the polish, design and finish of the room but by the detail driven service that went along.

Sharing plates include a wide choice of Neapolitan pizza, Tim Pawsey photo

Right now, in the off-season, even though there’s plenty of early interest (especially from other wineries), things are still pretty quiet. But there’s little doubt in our mind that come May or June, this newest  jewel, with its wraparound patio—along with the winery’s outdoor concert series—will be one of the Okanagan’s hottest tickets.

Tinhorn wines figure prominently! Tim Pawsey photo

No surprise, Tinhorn Creek wines figure prominently on the wine list, at a moderate markup. But there’s also strong representation of the region’s other leading wineries. And here’s a point worth noting: even when the tasting room is closed, you’ll be able to drop by for a bite and pickup a bottle from the restaurant, at tasting room prices, to take home.

Speaking of bottles—or lack thereof—all water is filtered, carbonated on-site and poured in stylin’ house glass bottles, to eliminate the shipping of bottled water. Also, according to ‘Compost Queen’ Sandra Oldfield, all biodegradable kitchen waste is composted for use in the vineyards, in one of the most comprehensive systems of its kind yet to be implemented in the valley.

More on Miradoro to come …

Open  daily for lunch (11:30 am to 3 pm); afternoon tapas (3 pm to 5:30 pm); and dinner (5:30 pm to 9 pm). Closed in January and February.

Reservations: 250-498-3742

Or on line at Open Table