– Words by Toby Tannas Photography by Don Denton
It’s a new incarnation for one of Kelowna’s most popular waterfront restaurants. Manteo at Eldorado Resort has completely re-vamped its in-house eatery. Gone is the quirky moniker “Smack Dab,” replaced with the more elegant “Maestro’s”—a unique Mediterranean experience.
“There’s nothing else like this in Kelowna at the moment,” says chef Jason Leizert. “We really wanted to step outside the box and do something with that feeling that comes with being right on the water.”
It’s a seafood-forward menu at Maestro’s. Jason designed it to be elevated and unexpected.
“When people think of the Mediterranean they often think of Spain, France and Italy, but there’s so much diversity when you hit Turkey and Northern Africa. My last travels were to Morocco and Egypt, so I think a lot of that rubbed off.”
While the kitchen is stocked with local, seasonal ingredients, Maestro’s aims to take patrons on a journey beyond the Okanagan.
“Whenever you get to open a new restaurant, whenever you get full range of a menu, you get to just play. It gets your energy flowing, you research to find different things that people may not know about.”
Inspired by his travels, Jason is not shy about using extravagant ingredients in unexpected ways.
“We’re doing salt-and-vinegar octopus, that’s a great little snack. We do octopus chips. We have a saffron macaron that we serve with a chilled prawn mousse inside; so, unlike the traditional French macaron, this is on the savoury side.”
From spicy peri peri chicken to head-on roasted prawns and a striking seabass with lentils and warm tomato shallot vinaigrette, creations from the Forno oven are the cornerstone of the Maestro menu.
“We really want to utilize our Forno oven so you get the flavours of that roast and char that you get in the Mediterranean when they cook over open flame.”
Because we eat with our eyes first, Jason says, he has paid special attention to presentation. The traditional paella and the stunning fruits de mer platter will have your mouth watering at first sight.
From the food to the décor, Maestro’s is designed with that wow factor in mind. Bright inside, with blues reflective of the Mediterranean, it’s truly a slice of paradise on the terrace. Feast al fresco amid water and fire features, herbs, olive and lemon trees. It’s an upscale spot to partake in happy hour and impress your out-of-town guests.
“If people are visiting, you’re going to want to bring them here because you know you’re going to have this great food experience and this great atmosphere.”
The vibe is upscale with both intimate corners and big social-style tables. The menu is crafted for more adventurous eaters and those who want to relive their memorable dining moments abroad, right here at home.
Breakfast also looks different here. You will find staples like eggs and hollandaise but with a Mediterranean twist, of course!
“You’ll still get your eggs Benedict, but it’s going to be a falafel eggs Benedict or a lobster eggs Benedict. We’ve got sardines that pair well with eggs as well as baked grapefruit.”
Breakfast will be served daily through the summer months with weekend brunch offered in the shoulder and winter seasons.
For Jason, this is like coming home. His 18 years in the kitchen have taken him across Canada and around the world. He’s coming off a six-month hiatus after opening a restaurant in New Brunswick. Kelowna foodies may remember him as the former chef and owner of Salt & Brick. He opened the Bernard Avenue hotspot before selling it and setting off to roam the globe. With his travel hunger satiated (for now), Jason has been laser-focused on defining Maestro’s and building his team.
“It’s exciting to open new places, meet new people, cook with new people,” he says. “It’s been really fun to design this new menu and put my touch on it.”
With small and large plates designed to share, as well as many vegetarian and gluten-free options, Jason has designed the menu to pair perfectly with an impressive, international wine list.
“You must experience the food and the wine together. The way the wine list works with the food is incredible.”
Food, wine and atmosphere combine in the perfect proportions at Maestro’s. It’s something special and sure to become a hot spot for Mediterranean fare on the shores of Okanagan Lake.