Last week, I almost didn’t eat dinner at what is, quite possibly, the best restaurant in Kelowna.
Quick back story: I was in the Okanagan for the premiere of The Beast of Bottomless Lake at the Okanagan Film Festival on Wednesday night. My sweetie and I came up a couple days early both to work and to have some fun–wine tasting on the Naramata bench, hanging out at the beach, that kind of thing.
We got into town after the long drive from Vancouver last evening around 4. We dropped our stuff at the hotel, and headed out to see the town and look for a place to eat dinner. Just down the street is we found a place called The Rotten Grape–recommended to me by a resident here. But it wasn’t open, so we moved on.
I wanted to take a photo of the OIFF banner, and while I was doing that, Dave discovered another restaurant. It was called RauDZ, and honestly, from the outside, it didn’t look like much. But we were hungry, and it seemed like the best option at the time.
So we went in, and were immediately ushered to a cozy little booth in the back. The decor was exposed brick and warm chocolate tones, with a huge blackboard above the kitchen sporting quotes about food. The kitchen was entirely open behind a pane of glass–the ultimate in transparency.
The experience just got better and better. We were informed that the chef, Rob Butters, likes to cook local and seasonal, and that the menu was about 85% organic. They had martinis which they made with a fresh fruit puree of whatever was currently in season. The food was wonderful: I had plump little grilled squids stuffed with a kind of tapenade, served on a salad of the tentacles and cauliflower. Dave had white salmon with gnocchi that were so tasty. Our desert was probably the best part of the meal: a fantastic coffee creme brulee and a chocolate ganache with a cherry/anise sorbet and cherries stuffed with hazelnuts.
There is nothing to not recommend about this restaurant: the drinks, the food, the room, the service were all exceptional.
The problem was, we were confused by the branding.
The signage (cheesy martini glass), the confusing name (“Rod’s”? “Road’s?” “Rawd’s”??) spelled with a mix of capitals and lowercase letters gave me the feeling that the restaurant was something pretty average. But it was pretty special on the inside.
Whatever it is that you are trying to sell: paintings, jazz albums, seats at the opera, ballet or theatre, or even martinis, remember: people do judge a book by its cover. Yes, I know, we’re not supposed to, but we do. It takes us less than 10 seconds to form an opinion about something. That dosen’t give you a lot of time. Make sure you do it right.