Frankie We Salute You! Now Open

On a recent rip through the Okanagan we stopped in for brunch at Kelowna’s Frankie We Salute You, the newvegetarian restaurant from former Acorn co-founder/chef Brian Skinner and his wife, Christina. The name honours their grandfathers, who both loved growing plants and were named Frank.

The bright and colourful 60 seater is located in a new Harvey Street complex (formerly a VW dealership) called District Market. Designed by Meiklejohn Architects Inc., the complex looks like it still has a bit of a ways to go before completion (no patio just yet), but that hasn’t stopped the Skinners from throwing open their doors.

Despite the restaurant’s casual atmosphere, the comfort food – no surprise here – is on an entirely elevated level. If you’re into healthy eating, this is very likely the best (and certainly the most thoughtful) plant-based menu currently being plated right now in the Okanagan. That might sound like hyperbole since I’ve only forked through a Saturday brunch service, but the proof is there and you can eat it. I came to this quick conclusion after nibbling on simple but flawless chickpea frites and taking a few harmonious bites of “smoked carrots on toast”. The former – perfectly cut blocks with pea-wasabi mayo dip – had crisped edges and pillowy interiors, while the latter was an edible revelation that saw – beyond the smoked orange ribbons on hearty slices from nearby Sprout Bakery – perfectly griddled fingerling potato halves anchoring an organic salad. The whole thing was lit with almost too much flavour — dill, capers, pickled red onion, nori, sesame, and whipped plant-based feta all working together in service of the next bite. (Not until just now did I consider it a visual play on smoked salmon.) Then came a charred poplano-licked sweet corn queso and a satisfying, take-my-back-to-childhood plate of peanut butter and banana-stuffed french toast littered with fresh blueberries — and I needed no further convincing of the kitchen’s capabilities.

Bottom line: diners can expect happy, enjoyable, healthy and totally unpretentious food that jibes with the relaxed feel of a well-run room. While it’s too early to predict how it will do in Kelowna, I’d wager that if it was in Vancouver it would be a really hard place to get a table. I’m looking forward to exploring the menu further at lunch and dinner (they do a laksa that reads well), but I’ve eaten and judged enough of Brian’s food over the years (in restaurants and at competitions) to know more deliciousness awaits. If you get up there before I do, let me know how it goes!

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