Bouchons Bistro, Kelowna.

June, 2016.

Operated by Richard Toussaint, an experienced front-end restauranteur and owner of the former Café de Paris in Vancouver, this authentic-made little spot was just what we were looking for on the final night of a long weekend in town. It turns out simple but nicely prepared and presented French small-restaurant offerings in a cheerful and inviting atmosphere.

We sat on the patio, tolerable with artificial heat on an unseasonably chilly June evening, and enjoyed the efficiency and slightly ironic sense of humour of our server, a brisk young-middle-aged anglo man. The menu’s predictability was comforting rather than tedious, including duck and beef tartare as mains, and a prawn strudel as starter. We went for the Burgundy snails and an oxtail ravioli as starters to share, and then split the beef tartare main.

There were three Burgundies on the otherwise succinct list, and we elected a 2011 Santenay village that had an unfortunately confused and diminished aroma (although, yes, clearly pinot noir), but was balanced in the mouth.

A soft fresh half-baguette arrived immediately. The snails were as-advertised: the long-iconic escargots nestled in their petite craters full of salty garlic and melted butter which the nice baguette soaked up. We enjoyed the oxtail ravioli, the pasta maybe just a bit insipid but the braised meat and red wine sauce soft and beefy. Our tartare was like the snails, dead on-target classic in its soft melange of mustard, capers, and egg yolk. Summer comfort food.

Many of the other diners seemed to be welcomed as regulars, and the overall approach was a sort of Okanagan Valley version of what you would find around any corner in pretty well any French city or town. Unaffected, what-you-see-is-what-you-get, and reasonably priced at around $120 pre-tip. No reason not to return next time we are in this neck of the woods. Food 8.0, service 9.0, ambience 7.8, value 7.8, peace and quiet 5.5.

About John Sloan

John Sloan is a senior academic physician in the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia, and has spent most of his 30 years' practice caring for the frail elderly in Vancouver. He is the author of "A Bitter Pill: How the Medical System is Failing the Elderly", published in 2009 by Greystone Books. His innovative primary care practice for the frail elderly has been adopted by Vancouver Coastal Health and is expanding. Dr. Sloan lectures throughout North America on care of the elderly.
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