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Meet the Face of Good Eats: Neeley Brimer of The Hooded Merganser

First of all, let’s address the name of this spectacular restaurant perched over the water at Penticton Lakeside Resort & Convention Centre.

Besides being the resort’s flagship destination to eat and drink, The Hooded Merganser is also a rare duck native to Okanagan Lake, one of which coincidentally flew onto the patio during restaurant name selection.

“The ducks are known to be unique and special, characteristics we wanted to embrace with the new brand,” says Neeley Brimer, manager of The Hooded Merganser.

“All three of our dining establishments are named after birds – The Hooded Merganser, Bufflehead (cafe) and Barking Parrot (bar) act as their drunken cousin, as we like to say.”

The Hooded Merganser is a culinary and architectural masterpiece.

Accessed by a dock from the resort’s promenade, it sits on its own island with floor-to-ceiling windows to an unparalleled view of Okanagan Lake.

It’s open seven days a week, 3-11 pm, for happy hours and dinner.

Happy hours feature $5 highballs and draught beer, $1 an ounce glasses of wine, $7 meatballs and truffle fries, $11 chicken wings and beef sliders and $15 charcuterie boards.

The dinner menu is anchored by rotisserie chicken and ribs, BC salmon and halibut, steaks, wild game burger and rack of lamb.

The by-the-glass and by-the-bottle wine list is Okanagan heavy and the lineup of cocktails are named after, what else? Birds native to the Valley, including Peregrine rum punch, Cinzano-based Bushtit, gin-and-grapefruit-juice Sap Sucker, bourbon-based Says Phoebe and gin-and-lemon-juice Harlequin.

After taking a break from the hospitality industry for four years while her young son battled kidney cancer, Neeley is proud to return to the food and drink biz at The Hooded Merganser.

“Three months after taking this job, my son got his first clear scan in four years,” she says.

“Feels like it was written in the stars. I feel incredibly honoured to be part of this team and this brand.”

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