The Experience – Food in the Valley: Traders Lounge sets the bar high

While the substantial wine list was being perused, we couldn’t help but notice a terrific selection of single malt scotch. Big thumbs up!

Editor’s note: this is a new column in the Valley Echo, in which our team of mystery diners will review a local establishment at the end of each month.

Traders Lounge is located in the south wing of the Eagle Ranch clubhouse, which is also home to Rustica Steak House.

They’re beautiful rooms year round, and even more so on this night, as they were all decked out in their Christmas finery.

With a warm, friendly welcome, carols playing in the background, and a seat by the roaring fireplace, the ambience was perfect.

We had read that executive chef Dan  Pietrzak “takes the “ordinary” and turns it into a culinary delight that will wake up your taste buds!” Of course, we were intrigued. A review of the new menu told us this is not your typical lounge offering. While the basic menu items are similar to that of a regular pub, the ingredients used and the way they’re prepared shoots the dishes we tried from “predictable” to “wow.”

Everything on the menu sounded so good we changed our minds many times! We sampled a few of the items on the appetizer menu: spring rolls al pastor (achiote pork and pineapple with avocado cream) and pork gyoza (savoury pan-fried Japanese style dumplings).

The spring rolls have a silky texture with all the ingredients coming together in smoky goodness. The wrapper is thicker than what we’ve come to know and is a bit tricky to cut. Should the kitchen have chopped them into little pieces for us? (Hmm, maybe not. We aren’t that young or that old.) The addictive gyoza were perfect with their delicate wrappers, crispy fried bits and traditional dipping sauce — in our experience, they’re exactly like the best we’ve ever had in the big city.

While the substantial wine list was being perused, we couldn’t help but notice a terrific selection of single malt scotch. Big thumbs up!

Next was the Korean taco, which consists of Bulgogi grilled marinated beef with Daikon kimchi (Korean radish) and a side salad. While not frequent beef eaters, this taco may be the game changer. The word Bulgogi literally means “fire meat” and the spiciness was perfect. The salad with Stilton and beets was light, tasty and fresh.

The Singapore laksa noodle bowl was particularly enjoyable since it was a cold evening.  We had never tried laksa before and it was cooked to perfection. A coconut milk and curry based broth full of chicken, shrimp, fresh basil, noodles — this is some serious comfort food, people. (It comes with mussels too, but we opted out.) Two notes: the chicken pieces could be a bit smaller for a friendlier chopstick experience and it was just as good for lunch the next day.

Chef Pietrzak is obviously inspired by and successfully incorporates world influences in his menu, such as Asian, South American and Indian. The Columbia Valley also makes an appearance with Arrowhead Brewing and Kicking Horse Coffee included in dishes.

Next up was sport eating: we needed closure and the sugar pie would serve us well. The pie’s buttery crust, creamy texture, and balanced sweetness made fore a great dessert.

With all of the care given to the ingredients and imaginative presentation, the food at Traders Lounge has been kept affordable and down to earth. The service is great. Overall, it really was a nice evening. Come here and experience it.