micro bar * bites – the new restaurant from RauDZ © Creative Concepts Ltd
Chef Rod Butters and his business partner Audrey Surrao are doing it again. After the acclaimed four diamond Fresco and the subsequent and equally fabulous RauDZ Regional Table they have pooled their culinary vision together to create the new and exciting micro bar * bites. micro bar is a first of it’s kind in the Okanagan, bringing a New york and European style establishment to our local culinary scene. Trying to get into RauDZ and finding a line up? No worries, just walk down a couple of doors and enter micro, their new restaurant opening soon on historical Water Street in Kelowna.
The Okanagan culinary power team of Rod and Audrey are well known for their commitment to regional cuisine and have developed a dedicated following at RauDZ. The new micro bar * bite is promising to deliver the high quality cuisine we have come to expect at RauDZ but served in small bites and matched by international wine portfolio sourced by Audrey. Audrey is a certified WSET, an internationally recognized wine and spirit certification authority. She is knowledgeable and well respected in the insudtry for her palate and business acumen and frequently sought to serve as a judge in wine competitions. The international wine portfolio she is assembling will make micro distictively different than RauDZ where the focus is on local and regional wines exclusively. The wine list will be constantly refreshed. “Audrey buys a case of wine and when it’s gone, it’s gone” says Chef Butters
Last week I was invited to a pre-opening “sneak peek” for industry at micro giving us a preview of the beautiful space and a taste of some of the foods that will be featured on the menu. The moment you step in to micro bar * bites you “get it”. The 900 square feet space is warm, comfortable and inviting. “The space is so small” jokes Chef Butters “that we don’t even capitalize the ‘m’ in micro”. The unique setting is designed to mingle and include and I can envision lovely food served on the gorgeous handcrafted wooden bar inviting conversation and lingering over small plates and a wonderful bottle of wine or beer.
The space was designed by the internationally acclaimed architet Timothy Bullinger from Arca3 Design Studio in Vancouver. His client list includes such luminaries as Vidal Sassoon and George Marciano as well as Miku restaurant in Vanclouver, ensuring that micro is in good and stylish company. Bullinger’s design of micro combines the old, new and unique and preserves the historical integrity of the architecture on Water Streeet in Kelowna. The first thing you notice upon entering is the stunning 65 foot, one of a kind wood top bar that defines the space. All the woodwork, including the bar, was crafted by Will Brundula of Heartland Millworks, a local second generation wood craftsman who has also made the gorgeous long wooden table at RauDZ. I plan on comissioning him to make a long wooden table for my outdoor rooftop kitchen. The countertop was constructed from three species of reclaimed wood, cut to fit together in a one of a kind design you will see nowhere else. The bar sets the tone for the restaurant, and in Chef Rod’s own words it is “the best bar top I have seen in my entire life”. I second that statement. The counter, wrapped around the length of the space, seats 34 indoors and more space will become available outdoors for additional 20 guests. I love the idea of sitting at the long bar watching the going on and maybe conversing with others seated next to you. micro is the first of its kind concept in Kelowna and as Chef Butters says it was intended to “create a European feel of ‘come in and have a drink’. We are talking NYC or European style here”. I can see this place quickly becoming the place to be in the up and coming culinary nightlife of downtown Kelowna.
Bullinger, (“Tim” to Chef Rod) is especially known for his love of lighting and he lives up to his reputation at micro. Upon entering through the doors you are immediately engaged by the wire cage lighting designed by Bullinger and constructed in Texas. “The light fixtures are all man made. We have more lights than Orchard Park shopping centre. I am not sure what the lighting bill is going to be” says Chef Butters, tongue firmly planted in his cheek. The 20 foot lighting contruction has dozens of suspended old world style caged light fixtures (gorgeous). It looks as if the entire construction is hanging from an enormous hook on the ceiling (it’s reinforced otherwise, not to worry about it dropping on you in the middle of drinks at the bar). The warm glow of the dozens of lights hanging from the 18 foot high ceiling creates an inviting, warm and festive ambiance. I am sure you’d look good under those lights.
The walls along the bar feature grey stone and brick imported from Italy especially for the restaurant. The plaster wall on the opposit end was created by an Italian specialist using ancient european technique and applied to the wall in four stages. It adds to the authentic and organic feel of the place, with wood, glass, stone and plaster combined to reflect old world style in new world setting. The old world feel extends to the glassware. We were served wine in understated glass tumblers, comfortable to hold and beautiful to look at. “They go well with the heavy wood countertop and compliment the atmosphere we are creating at micro” says manager and head of Service Team Amy Laird, a friendly face greeting you from behind the bar as you enter.
And don’t forget the food. “We even managed to squeeze in a small kitchen at the back” says Chef Butters (the guy has a good sense of humour). The chef for the new restaurant is Evelynn Takoff, a young chef who trained with Chef Rod at RauDZ for the past 4 years to become Chef de Cuisine at RauDZ Regional Table. Evelynn is also a two times recipient of the prestigious Les Dames d’Escoffier Schollarship and has completed her WSET Wine Certification. “It’s a dream come true” says Chef Takoff. “The menu will offer an ever changing and internationally inspired food”. Expect the menu to change frtequently if not daily and reflect what is best at the market and what the Chef decides to offer. She is pleased not to be bound to a set menu and when an item runs out it will be crossed off the menu posted on a butcher paper hanging on the wall at the back of the restaurant. At the “sneak peek” we were served hearty and satisfying individual bowls of veal cheeks (“here today, gone tomorrow” says Butters) and flavourful marinated seafood appetizersd beautifully presneted, along with wooden boards featuring a selection of cheeses and crusty breads. For their menu chef Butler proposes to follow a formula based on the number 10. They will offer 10 “bites”, 10 wines, 10 beers and 10 cocktails, all reflecting an international selection with food made from the best local ingredients. A selcetion of small bites beautifully presented along with wine, beer or cocktail sound very promising and I look forward to the opening of this exciting new restaurant downtown.
The event was organized by Alison Love and her team at spatula media, a marketing company focusing on the food and wine industry. Alison organized other large food events in Kelowna recently, including the Dinner en Blanc, Feast of Fields and more recnelty the Food and Wine Film Festival. Some of the guests attending the sneak peak at micro included my friend Val Harrison of More than Burnt Toast food blog, Lisa Olson, publisher of the trade magazine Orchard and Vine, Peggy Athans of the Downtown Kelowna Association, Valaura Vedan from Kelowna Now, Paul Byrne from Okanagan Life Magazine and Jeanette Montgomry of Okanagan Writing and EAT magazine.
Micro is ready to open as soon as remaining license issues are finalized. It is located at 1500 Water Street, a couple of doors down from RauDZ Regional Table. It will open its doors at 3:00 pm and be vailable for after work crowd, remaining open late until closing. Don’t miss the micro experience. You can follow them on facebook to make sure you don’t miss the opening.