The Gluten-Free Traveler: L’Oven in West Kelowna, BC

Canada is full of wonderful places to visit, and what’s especially cool about this is, they’re all very different. You’ve got Anne of Green Gables style cottages, midday lobster dinners and accents that resemble the Irish on one coast. You’ve got architecture and French culture somewhere in the middle. There are great camping spots through the prairies; and snowboarding and hiking in the mountains. And in interior BC, you can find a little slice of heaven known as the Okanagan Lake. There is the big-ish city of Kelowna (where you’d likely fly into if you were visiting) that has everything you need -it sits right on the lake which is surrounded by campgrounds, golf courses, beaches, boat rentals and of course, wineries. Everything (at least just outside of Kelowna) has a very small-town charm to it—a wine country charm. People are friendly. Locals know one another and often grew up here, or have relocated here for retirement. It’s the friendliest little place, and oh my goodness, is it ever beautiful. You may find your mood change the moment you land here. I know mine does. I’m calmer. I breathe deeper. I marvel a little more. It’s one of my most favourite places in the world to relax.

And you know what else is great here? How fresh everything is! Just as there are grapes grown all around for wine making, there are local orchards that produce beautiful fruit that you can easily stop to pick up at a roadside stand. This region cares about their food, and I love them for that. Recently, I have noticed more and more attention being paid to offering gluten-free alternatives at local cafes and restaurants. Wineries that run on-site restaurants (where I usually like to frequent so that I can squeeze in a tasting beforehand, hehe) have had many suggestions for me when I alerted them to my food allergy. But there was one place in particular that I’ve found that really stood out that I wanted to tell you about.

It’s called L’OVEN. Cute, right?
100-2565 Main St, West Kelowna

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We were in town on a Sunday and were seeking brunch (as most of us do on Sundays). Someone had recommended a little Mom & Pop shop that serendipitously shared a parking lot with L’Oven, and when we pulled in, the sign reading “FARM FRESH FOOD” caught my attention and I had to go in and investigate. And was I ever glad I did! I have no idea if the other breakfast spot is any good, but I can say with assurance there is NO WAY it was better than what we found inside that little diner.

They were setting up for their newly introduced Sunday Brunch (lucky us) and immediately welcomed us with the warmest greetings, allowed us to select a table and then brought us up to the smorgasbord that they were piecing together. We were stunned. I have never seen a brunch like this in my life, and can assuredly tell you I have never had any brunch as good as this one. Our mouths watered as we made our way around the jam-packed little table, trying to take small helpings of everything (because we wanted to ensure we had enough room to eat it all!). There were breakfast potatoes, most perfectly cooked, thick slices of bacon, homemade gluten-free sausages, scrambled eggs, tortillas, breakfast pizza (gluten-free on request), quiche, an egg and bean dip, gluten-free bread and muffins, hot scones, fruit, yogurt and granola, something resembling apple crisp, a pasta salad and these little flutes of cold tomato soup they called “Sangarita”. When I inquired about what was gluten-free, they took it very seriously and confirmed everything with the kitchen before pointing out what I could safely enjoy. The good news was: about 75% of it was okay for me. AND, with our plates nearly full, they inquired as to how we wanted our Eggs Benny cooked. Yes, it was included. They made mine on gluten-free toast and the Hollandaise sauce was light and buttery. I devoured it, of course. As I was eating, I was making mental notes about all the other things I had to tell you about this place:

They, of course, made gluten-free bread.

They made gluten-free pancakes.

They made gluten-free pizza on request (as mentioned above, but I thought I should remind you).

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They made gluten-free squares, gluten-free pie and gluten-free cookies.

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And you could use the gluten-free cookies to make a gluten-free gelato sandwich.

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They even had one day of the week designated as “Gluten-Free Day” where almost everything they make is gluten-free! (It’s Friday, so you can plan your trip around it.)

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As we chowed down on this scrumptious meal, we started to nervously wonder what on earth this was going to cost us. For what we were eating—how good it tasted, how much of it there was, the beautiful, GMO-free ingredients—we were worried it was going to come in around $50. Something like this in a big city surely would. But when we got our bill, we breathed a sigh of relief (and disbelief really) as she ran through $20 for each of us.

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We thought about this breakfast for the next two days. We couldn’t stop talking about it. Couldn’t stop pining for more of it. So on the last morning, a Tuesday, we returned. There was no brunch that day, so it gave us the chance to scope out the everyday menu. I opted for the gluten-free pancakes, because, well, why not? I don’t eat many pancakes, being that they’re usually not gluten-free and are often usually crap. Well, lucky me. Again… HONESTLY best pancakes I’ve ever had. My boyfriend, not gluten-free but the chef in our house who is always trying to perfect my favourite gluten-free recipes, was blown away. “How on earth do they get them so fluffy?!” we wondered as I slid my knife through the stack of three and topped them with organic maple syrup. Lucky for us, they shared their flour of choice: Cup4Cup (which is the best news because that means we may be able to re-create this in our own kitchens!). 

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So if this hasn’t convinced you to go there, I honestly don’t know how to. This place is definitely, definitely, definitely worth a visit. L’Oven, and the Okanagan as a whole. I promise, it will not disappoint.

And hey, if all else fails, wine is always gluten-free, and that, I can assure, you is not only plentiful but top quality in this region. So bottom line, plan your trip to the Okanagan ASAP.

And bonus, my boyfriend and I have just opened up a B&B right in West Kelowna (and right near L’Oven, and many of the best wineries and golf courses) so you can “be my guest” and book your stay here! When you place your inquiry to book, message me and mention that you heard about us via GFYYC and I’ll even hook you up with a little discount.

Check it out and book your holiday now! 

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