The first thing I noticed as I entered the Modo Lounge was how the atmosphere of the place has transformed from the traditional layout of Accolades. All tables and chairs have been replaced with comfy couches, soft chairs and standing-level tables for guests to place their plates and drinks on as they chat with staff and other guests. The light was reduced to a calm, warm and ambient colour.
The tapas table presented guests with four hot dishes and four cold dishes. On offer for the hot dishes were beef roulade, risotto croquette, yangnyeom chicken and sous vide pork belly. The beef roulade, stuffed with pickles and vegetables, was tangy and moist and the pork belly was acidic and and flavourful, both equally delicious. I was not a fan of the risotto croquette, which had roasted vegetables and panko breading. The yangnyeom chicken, a Korean chicken wing, was crispy with the right amount of kick.
The cold section included flatbread crackers with hummus spreads, cold cuts, cheeses and marinated olives. What stuck out, however, was the maple-smoked salmon on flatbread crackers. The first thing that came to my mind as I bit into it was not only how perfectly balanced the smokiness and sweetness was, but how fresh the salmon tasted.
The bar offers cocktails that are prepared in front of you by the student bartenders. While many of the drinks are quite simple mixes, such as Harvey Wallbangers and Cuba Libres, the sparkling wine cocktail caught my eye.
The combination of sugar, bitters, brandy and sparkling wine in a sugar-rimmed glass with a maraschino cherry definitely had a bite to it, but it was refreshing and not overpowering. The cocktails are inspired by classic combinations popular during the ‘40s and ‘50s.
Before I left, I was offered some dessert chocolates to try. While berry and salted caramel flavours were nice and all, the chocolate hazelnut bite stuck out in my mind. Powdered with cocoa and filled with a cool, creamy hazelnut centre, I couldn’t leave without having at least a couple of them. Personally, I am not the biggest chocolate fan, but I would actively seek out those chocolate hazelnut bites again.
A large focus of Modo, according to tourism faculty instructor Doug Ellis, is being consistent with the culinary arts department’s commitment to using local suppliers whenever possible. The salmon, for example, was smoked in-house by students in retail meat processing. Most of the drinks available were local as well, with Harper’s Trail and Monte Creek wine proudly on display along with Sorrento’s Crannog cider and Vernon’s Okanagan Spring beer.
Student participation is seen in all aspects of the lounge. Not only do you see friendly tourism management students on the floor bussing the tables tending the bar, and eat tapas prepared by students, but the artwork on the walls were created by fine arts students and dessert chocolates were made by culinary arts students.
According to Ellis, as the point of the lounge is to have students practice skills in a controlled environment, the food and cocktail menu will be updated every couple of weeks. This is exciting, because that means no two experiences will be the same.
At $15 per person plus $6 per drink ticket, the experience priced modestly for what are thoughtfully prepared tapas comparable to what you can get commercially. I would not hesitate to bring a date or client I am trying to impress here.
The Modo Lounge is open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. until April 13 in the culinary arts building.