"Will travel for food" is my motto, so I before I pack my bags and hit the road I always have my research done for the buzziest new restaurants and cafes, must-try treat shops, tried-and-true local veterans, and more.
So what happens when you end up spending a few days about 25 minutes outside of a city at a mountaintop resort with just a handful of built-in food options?
Well, if you're at Silver Star Mountain Resort in the North Okanagan, what happens is you'll spend those summer days and nights eating a diverse array of cuisines and food styles at a line-up of restaurants that make this not just a trip, but a destination.
Note: During the peak season, Silver Star has even more options for dining. A full index of options, including opening information, is available online.
Here's your guide for eating your way around Silver Star in the summer.
The smell of buttery baked goods, sweet fruit, and cinnamon permeating the air around Silver Star's village walk are clear signals some kitchen magic is going down nearby. The wizardry is courtesy Frank Berkers, owner of Bugaboos Bakery Cafe, a beloved institution on the mountain for fuelling a day of adventure. Berkers has been in the baking game for nearly 40 years, having started his career in the Netherlands before opening Bugaboos at Silver Star a quarter-century ago.
First thing in the morning, head to the cafe and queue up for a peek at what's come out of the Bugaboos ovens; you'll likely face a gob-smacking line-up of sweet and savoury pastries, primarily croissants of all kinds from classic chocolate to savoury egg and cheese. There are sausage rolls, bear claws, and sandwiches alongside cream puffs and an absolute must-try cinnamon roll. Be sure to get there early before they sell out. Pair your baked treat with coffee, a smoothie, or something a little more fortified, as in spiked coffees or beer.
What do you get when you cross the flavours of Japan with an Alpine ski lodge stay? It's not the punchline of any joke - it's actually the premise behind Black Pine Social, a spacious, thoughtful, cozy restaurant and lounge located on the upper floor of one of the main buildings in Silver Star's village. Brandon Loughery, who purchased the establishment and launched Black Pine - as so many present-day hospitality stories go - right before the pandemic had B.C. in its clutches. His vision was to give resort visitors a sense of what he's seen and tasted having skied around the globe, bringing together elements of some of his favourite parts of Japanese and Alpine cuisines.
The result: A ski-lodge vibe with crave-worthy share plates like mounds of golden parmesan truffle fries, creamy mac and cheese, and katsu sandos, or soul-satisfying bowls of hearty ramen. The food pairs with fantastic drinks from the cocktail menu, selections from the restaurant's whisky vault, wine, or beers.
Loughery, a Vancouver restaurant veteran, also owns and operates a pair of local "blue collar" pubs in the area he's revved up with locally-sourced ingredients - without losing touch with the clientele from the community. He's got another B.C. venture in the works, and has some plans to make a few more adjustments to Black Pine's space before peak ski season - and the restaurant's full wintertime menu - hits.
If the secret to great pizza is in the crust, then Silver Star's grab-and-go pizzeria Pizza Gratta is definitely onto something. Owners Wendy and Tim Olson, who took over the pie-and-slice-shop space a couple of years ago, are passionate about the health benefits of naturally fermented sourdough, which is what they use to make their pizzas. Working with high-quality ingredients - and a tight-knit team - the family-fun business is turning out tantalizing pizzas, including fully vegan options.
The Olsons are also mindful of the ecological impact of running a food business, so you won't find any plastic bottles of beverages in the case, and in the kitchen the crew is aiming to be as close to zero-waste as possible. They're loading up their pies with classic toppings and a house-made marinara sauce, using tried-and-true recipes to create their crowd-pleasing pizzas. If you're not looking for a while pie, fear not - Pizza Gratta has slices up for grabs, and a few sandwich options and menu specials to keep an eye out for.
For those familiar with Amsterdam's Bulldog Cafe - or those who simply google the Silver Star restaurant's name and land on the website for the Dutch venue - you are actually on the nose. The B.C. branch is owned by the same people behind the original European Bulldog - they just happen to love Canada and in particular the cozy Alpine village charms of Silver Star.
You'll find a global melding of flavours here in the casual pub-style cafe, with lots of unique dishes you don't typically see in the Okanagan. It's East-meets-West, by way of the Netherlands, which means you can dive into sky-high piles of nachos, Indonesian spring rolls, or Bitterballen - a Dutch dish consisting of deep-fried balls of beef ragout. And if ever there was a meeting of the minds between Canada and Holland it would result in the Dutch Poutine: Thick-cut fries loaded with onions, Indonesian peanut sauce, and drizzled with mayo.
You can go from day to night - or hang out on their spacious, sunny patio all day - at the Red Antler. For the a.m. crowd, breakfast wraps and classic eggy breakfasts will get you up and running, while approachable appies, bowls, burgers, and salads take centre stage for lunch or dinner.
Tuck into share plates of Korean Fried Cauliflower or wings, or pick up a thick, juicy burger with fries. The food here is laid-back, like the vibes, with something to please anyone at the table. When it comes to drinks, the Red Antler is serving up fun house-made cocktails, beer and wine, or zero-proof libations. Take note, they do a great Happy Hour with drink specials, making it the perfect hang for before or apres whatever adventures your day holds.
Thanks to Destination Silver Star for support provided to experience the restaurants profiled. All opinions and inclusions are those of the author and were not guided or influenced in any way, and no businesses or representatives were granted any previews of this article prior to publication.