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“Some Enchanted Evening” 4 of 5 stars
Review of The Vanilla Pod Restaurant

The Vanilla Pod Restaurant
425 Middle Bench Road, Penticton, British Columbia V2A 8S5, Canada
+1 250-493-9463
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Ranked #23 of 160 Restaurants in Penticton
Price range: $18 - $49
Cuisines: Mediterranean, Tapas, Eclectic, Winery
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Restaurant details
Good for: Outdoor seating, Scenic view
Dining options: Breakfast/Brunch, Reservations, Late Night
Dining style: Casual Dining
Description: At The Vanilla Pod restaurant, our cuisine style is focussed on local and seasonal ingredients with an underlying emphasis on flavour. Key ingredients include fresh herbs which in the summer months are picked from the herb garden next to the restaurant.Tapas style dishes of international and mediterranean flavours combined with fresh Okanagan ingredients make for a delightful exploration of contemporary cuisine. Visual presentation is as important as innovation in flavour with judicious use of spices and other seasonings being central to the dishes created by Executive Chef Bruno Terroso.
Penticton, Canada
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
7 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
22 helpful votes 22 helpful votes
“Some Enchanted Evening”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 8, 2013

On a cold winter's evening with the fireplace blazing, full of happy diners, the bustle in the exposed kitchen both visible and audible, the friendly professional servers moving about…all these things can be said about Vanilla Pod without mentioning its glorious setting.

Housed in Penticton's most dramatic winery with its cool combination of metal, concrete and wood, stark angles and curvy offsets, there is also the 250 degree view of Okanagan Lake from Summerland to Penticton including at this time of year the lights of the little city.

Last night the restaurant was in the midst of a Groupon feeding frenzy on a set menu. We asked for the tasting menu, which had been removed for the winter season. We were cheerfully accommodated and lingered and savored each of the five dishes. I won't describe each dish as I have never had a meal at Vanilla Pod that was less than fresh, delicious and artistically presented.

It's not an inexpensive meal but Vanilla Pod delivers good value. How could you expect all these ingredients in an inexpensive restaurant?

  • Visited December 2013
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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168 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Any
English first
Kelowna, Canada
Senior Contributor
23 reviews 23 reviews
23 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
“FOR PEOPLE WHO SERIOUSLY LOVE FOOD!!!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 7, 2013

I REALLY REALLY want to tell everyone who is looking for DELICIOUS food that this is one of very few in the Okanagan. The Okanagan certainly lacks a true food scene for foodies givin' the fact it's a wine tourist destination and with that comes foodies in search of the next best meal.

I have eaten here a few times and must say food is outstanding. Dishes are prepared by Chef Bruno Terroso, whom I met in person and once enjoyed a great discussion about food. Chef Bruno is of Portuguese decent and you can see his influence first by offering a menu that is meant for sharing (very European) and not to forget the incredible Paella that I highly recommend having. The restaurant focuses on local ingredients obviously when in season and prices are quite reasonable for the quality you are receiving. We have enjoyed a few of Chef Bruno's 5 course tasting menus; and I do recommend trying it at least once. The majority of the wine menu is Poplar Grove, and although I'm sure that's not something Vanilla Pod has control over, it would certainly be a better service to the guest to have a bit more option. After all, Poplar Grove wines are OK but they honestly make a decent Rose, Pinot Gris and Syrah.

The decor is minimalistic and modern with an outstanding view of the valley. I love that they have an open kitchen concept both for the experience and more so to see who is actually cooking my food. Being someone who has committed 20+ years to hospitality, all I can say is... if you only knew or could see into a kitchen without the open concept you may actually change your mind on some of the places you actually visit on a regular bases. So for the few people who wish to come on here and complain about the light from the kitchen, consider that a minor design flaw rather than an actual complaint. I think I sat in the table you are referring to and it's NOT that bad... really! At least the kitchen crew is clean, looks respectable and is studying culinary arts vs some dude of the street who's hygiene is less than healthy.

I have enjoyed sitting on their patio during the summer months enjoying sunsets that will blow your mind, and lovely summer breezes coming on evening. If you are someone who wants to complain its too sunny, too hot, to windy, too cold or there are too many flies... try to remember you chose to dine outside and the restaurant does not serve your weather. The restaurant is extremely busy in the summer so we were very glad we made reservations prior to arriving.
FYI... you can not reserve the patio (as I would totally understand) however; they reserve a table in the dining room and once you arrive you can choose move outside if there is room available . By choosing outside, you ARE giving up your seats inside so DO NOT complain if you find you are uncomfortable and your table inside was givin' away to another party. A reservation does not entitle you to reserve two tables for the obnoxious party we were lucky enough to have entertain us during our meal.

The service is friendly but when they are busy, they are running so please realize that. They are not being snooty, arrogant or rude. They are busy!!! We have always only had one bill and generally when we are out with friends we split everything 50/50 so I can't comment of the issues I have seen on here regarding separate bills. I can say that it's a service provided pretty much everywhere so I would expect it without any issues from a server.

All in all, it is one of my favourite places to dine. I now live in Kelowna and have no problem driving the 45 minutes to go down and dine here because I know I will get delicious food that will make me want to come back for more. Hard to say that about most restaurant in Okanagan! Do READ the EXCELLENT reviews as they are more relevant to the experience you will expect to get from dining at the Vanilla Pod.

  • Visited December 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Penticton, Canada
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
“BLINDING evening lighting!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 16, 2013

Setting-fabulous, food-very good, evening lighting-BLINDING! I was seated at a table that was as far from the kitchen as possible, but facing it, and had a hard time seeing the other diners at the table for the florescent lighting from the open kitchen. It was very distracting and uncomfortable. The four of us in our local party agreed a valance is in order. Apparently it has been mentioned before but to no avail. It gives the space an identity complex. The dining area is relaxing and gently lit but the glaring florescent fixtures overpower that and makes it feel far less cozy. Too bad.

  • Visited November 2013
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
8 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
“Beautiful winery, terrible restaurant”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed November 7, 2013

We have visited this restaurant twice previously to this review. I always give a place a second chance and I am regretful I did so in this case. First of all I am a local and frequent the wineries many times a year and belong to many wine clubs, including Poplar Grove. Let's be clear and let you know firstly that Poplar Grove has NO affiliation with this restaurant, other than the fact that The Vanilla Pod is piggy backing off of Poplar Grove's pristine reputation for excellent service, incredible wines (which Vanilla Pod RETAILS on the menu), and a view that could kill. One would think this is the opportunity of a lifetime to have the above listed things in your favor. It's a no brainer. All you have to do is provide excellent service WITHOUT the snotty attitude, serve excellent local food with gluten free options (not just salad) that are IN STOCK, more Vegetarian options (not just salad) at a reasonable price ($8 per bottle of Pellegrino Water...REALLY?) and separate the bill amongst two couples when they ask. The chickpea salad was painfully embarrassing...just ask what is in the salad other than chickpeas and you'll see how disappointing it is when a pile of chickpeas sprinkled with cheap randoms shows up in front of you. Enjoy that $2 can of chickpeas!!!
They also retail the wine from Poplar Grove. I realize this is a business and you must make a profit but how about promoting each other instead of ripping off your customers? Consider a corkage fee if someone purchases a bottle from the winery. It's win win for everyone. Many places offer this, I know this for a fact and I think it's a totally reasonable way to please both sides.
Why is it such a problem to split up the bill amongst two couples? First we were told that their system is basically archaic and doesn't provide the option to do so and then the manager came along and took over and said "Normally we don't do this but I'll do it this one time and just so you know for next time. WOW...outstanding guys! So it IS possible. We spent almost $175 for four of us to have a very light lunch and this is how you think you will get repeat business...from locals? You may not care about repeat business in the summer when it's high season and tourists come and go through the revolving door (Thanks to Poplar Grove Winery; you're welcome) but now that it's just blue and white licence plates on the road you will experience what matters the most...REPEAT BUSINESS or in your case a lack of it.
Our friends (who know the owner) convinced us to give It another try and we did. Very disappointing and deflating and we will not be returning next week when we pick up our wine club at Poplar Grove...we will support another local restaurant that deserves to be in business and treats their customers with appreciation and makes us feel welcome.

  • Visited September 2013
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
    • 2 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
The_Vanilla_Pod, Owner at The Vanilla Pod Restaurant, responded to this review, November 10, 2013
Thank you for taking the time to express your opinion.

From the comments you made it seems most of your objections seem to be value driven. Let me assure you that we do not rip off the locals. Our prices are based on our expenses which as i'm sure you're well aware continue to go up.

The random sprinkles you spoke of are comprised of locally grown heirloom tomatoes, shallots, organic greens and a white balsamic vinaigrette, not something you can pick up at the local wholesale club.

Our wine markup are lower than industry norms and are set by both the restaurant and the winery. In fact I was in a restaurant recently where a bottle of Poplar Grove Legacy was being sold at $135, we sell this wine for $80.

As for our P.O.S difficulties, we were experiencing problems with it and I apologize for the inconvenience. It would freeze up on occasion while splitting bills which created problems for all our guests but this issue has now been resolved.

Lastly, to address your concerns about our lack of selection on our menu, we have always offered options for our guests who have food allergies or dietary restrictions. Our menu is 60% gluten free and with a couple tweaks it is close to 80% gluten free. Our chefs are very talented and more than happy to create a vegetarian or vegan dish or work with a menu item to make it vegetarian. All you have to do is ask. We try to be as accommodating as possible.

If you would like to discuss this further please feel free to contact me at (250)494-8222 or at vanillapod@shaw.ca

Thank you for your interest in the Vanilla Pod,

Paul Jones
Owner
Vanilla Pod Restaurant
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kelowna, Canada
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
“Incredible Vista and Really Good Food”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 6, 2013

Had lunch here after a tour through Naramata. So glad we found this place. Service was friendly and food was really good. Will def. be back!

  • Visited October 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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