Elma is a new’ish restaurant opened in Penticton, British Columbia (it opened in 2019) that offers “a Turkish inspire dining experience”. Located by the waterfront, Elma has indoor and outdoor seating on two floors with views of Lake Okanagan. We have been excited to visit since it opened and had to chance to dine at Elma recently; here is a review and more information about the restaurant.
The word “Elma” is reminiscent of our time in Turkey, where we drink “elma cay”, apple tea and ate Turkish food at restaurants and on the street. While Elma may not be 100% authentic Turkish food, it draws from the culinary traditions of the region and adds local elements/ingredients found in the Okanagan region; it is an unlikely marriage that works well based on the agricultural offerings nearby!
The space itself is quite surprising as you wonder why Vancouver doesn’t have its own Turkish inspired restaurant that is modern and chic like this; tiles flown in from Turkey are present inside, as well as elements of modern trendy art deco fixtures with art representative of Turkey itself. You see similarities between the décor you’ve experienced in Turkey and at some of the trendy bars/restaurants in larger cities.
Even Elma’s location is interesting; it is the most modern and upscale establishment in the area. As you walk/drive by the waterfront in Penticton to reach Elma, you will see numerous motels probably built in the early 1980s and smaller less known restaurants. Elma may appear to be out of place here and as part of the more common dining scene in the area that ranges from fast-food to fancier multi-course dinners at wineries but it finds a nice balance right in the middle by offering a somewhat casual but upscale dining experience at a decent price point.
The food menu at Elma is focused on share plates but some mains are available. Yes, you could have the lamb burger or one of the flat breads as your main but it is funner to order a number of items to share.
We’ve had the:
- Roasted Eggplant
- Turkish Meatballs
- Zucchini Fritters
- Lamb Aleppo Gözleme
- Minced Beef Flatbread
All were really delicious and well presented; we would order most of these again. We do have to say though that the meatballs are probably our favorite due to how unique the dish is with the tangy sumac tomato sauce, acidity from the red onions and creamy yogurt sauce with the moist and flavourful meat.
The Lamb Aleppo Gözleme reminded us of some of the ones we had on the streets of Istanbul and Izmir but slightly different since it was more like a samosa.
The roasted eggplant was amazing, so amazing that Jason who usually hates eggplant enjoyed it. The dish is served with bread but not enough to eat the whole dish which is why they recommend adding more bread for $4. We decided not to add more bread due to how much food we ordered and think that they should perhaps add an extra piece of bread instead of up-selling a whole bread order for $4 to complement the dish (minor complaint). That being said, the extra bread could come in handy if you are sharing the dish between more than 2 table and/or to soak up the other sauces from other dishes.
The flatbread was also really good and reminded us of the “pide” we had in Turkey. One thing that is missing from the beef one we had based on our preferences was some acidity like maybe lemon to squeeze and some fresh parsley. We ended up squeezing some of the lemon from another plate on top to add that acidity.
Elma also has a special Tomahawk steak that you can order for a family-style meal with 24 hours’ notice. We are interested in trying that next time and updating this review with that information.
The drink menu is focused on a selection of very nice looking and interesting cocktails that are very Instagrammable with BC craft beer, BC wine and some non-alcoholic options like Turkish coffee, tea, and soft drinks.
Elma has a happy hour on certain days from 15:00-17:00 with food and drink options. The best value of the happy hour is on the discounted drinks. We did enjoy the happy hour but found the concept a little confusing as the food options are more or less just smaller options for food on the main menu and even when we asked for the happy hour options, we were charged for the regular ones. We had planned on ordering food items from the regular menu too so it wasn’t a big deal, just not what we usually experience from happy hour.
Since Elma has re-opened and adhering to new public health guidelines as a result of COVID-19, some menu items are crossed off the menu and are slowly being re-introduced. If you are interested in something that’s crossed off the menu, make sure to ask your server if they have it because it might be available that day, which was the case for the gozleme when we visited.
We do recommend making a reservation as it does get quite busy and they were turning people who did not have a reservation away when we were there. We went for happy and it was quiet but got pretty busy around 16:30 with many tables filling up (also due to less tables to maintain physical distancing).
Overall, we are so happy that Elma is a dining option when we visit the Penticton area. As much as we like some of our old favorites like pizza at Tratto, the nachos at Cannery Brewing, and the Indian food at Kismet Winery, this is a nice option to have and we know we could at Elma two days in a row and find enough food options to have very different meals. We look forward to eating at Elma again! Like they say at Elma “Afiyet Olsun!”, enjoy your meal!
- Rating: 18/20 – We would visit again.
- Quality: 4 – Very good
- Quantity: 4 – Very good
- Service: 5 – Excellent
- Location/Atmosphere: 5 – Excellent
Have you ever had Turkish food? What do you think of restaurant concepts like Elma? Will you be going to Elma on your next visit to Penticton?
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