I’m a long way from being an outdoorsy huntin shootin kinda guy, but one way to spend time with my sons in their 30s is to travel to remote locations and try to keep up with them as they go after deer and moose.
This year I had one of three moose tickets in our extended group of hunters and hangers-on and ended up driving the Cocquihalla highway, staying in Merritt BC, and then heading north along the Yellowhead BC 5 to meet the boys beyond Kamloops. On the way back I stopped in Hope tired from too much highway and it turned out that in both towns the best-recommended restaurant online was referred to as Home.
In Merritt we had had dinner there a couple of years ago and I remember standard fare – burgers and meatloaf – but tasty. By chance I rented a room near the same place and pulling in shortly before they closed was seated by a long-haired guy whose crew was closing up. I grabbed a booth, ordered a beer and had a look at the menu. Burgers, spaghetti and meatballs, several meatloaf, roast beef dinner, turkey dinner, and schnitzel were the mains. Hungry, I ordered their “special” hunter chicken and a glass of the merlot which was the only red wine on offer.
The chicken dish was breast, cooked a bit beyond tender but approachable, with a crowd of onions and mushrooms etc. in a savoury sauce along with mashed potato. Salt, pepper, and the last swallow of beer helped this straightforward dinner on its way. The merlot was neutral but welcome after about five hours of driving and I talked them into packaging their “world-famous” cheesecake to take out, a perfect nightcap in my basic overpriced motel room.
The restaurant decor was small-town Mum and Pops, looking like someone had found the best deals in the local lumberyard and put it together clean and simple. The menu was stamped on worn plastic, boasting the restaurant if not the menu itself’s survival since the 1950s. I was happy and left a good tip on top of the $32 bill.
I was surprised when heading home from our hunt I pulled up at the online “best restaurant” in Hope BC to find it was also called “Home”. Why not? But this place was an exact bit-more-bustling replica of where I’d had dinner in Merritt. Same decor, same booth upholstery, same menu. It turns out that “Home” now exists in five places in BC: Sorrento, Salmon Arm, Merritt, Maple Ridge, and (the original) Hope. It’s pitched as down-home good old friends and the food isn’t pretentious, just good.
The burger in Hope was, once I got it spruced up with mayo and some pickle, close to White Spot in quality. The service was brisk, the clientele highway traffic and local pre-geriatric, and the overall impression positive and unpretentious.
I think closer to Vancouver like in Maple Ridge you might be able to do better, but whoever owns this little chain understands that a local or traveller through towns like Hope and Merit (pop. 6000 or 7000) or even in towns home to 15,000 or more, you wouldn’t be finding hidden big-city sophistication, prices, and pretension. Eat up, have a drink, and head back to the motel or go home. Obviously a winning combination.
Food 7.6 service 7.1 ambience 6.2 value 9.1 peace and quiet variable.