Although it first opened in 1948, I wish I could have seen The Homeway Soda Bar back in the 1960s. I’ll bet it was a local hangout for kids from the high school down the road. The name conjures up ice cream sodas, milkshakes, and plates of french fries shared among friends on the way home from school.
The Homeway remains a family-run diner. The old black and white photos on the wall show a cheerful papa behind the counter and an apron-draped mama at the grill. The waiter tells us mama — Nicky Meanchoff — still pops in to stir the occasional pot, literally and metaphorically. But these days it’s her daughter and son-in-law, Sandy and Larry, and grand-daughters Jessica and Katie who run The Homeway.
I’m impressed with a spot that has managed to hold the loyalty of the community for 67 years!
The Homeway is only open for breakfast and lunch, so we pop in for brunch on a Sunday. The wonderful fall weather has kept the patio open and busy, so we head inside. Despite the crush, the waitress quickly hands us menus, but informs us there will be delays as the kitchen is slammed. Can she bring us coffee in the meantime? We accept the offer, and she returns with strong, hot coffee — a good start.
My first guest chooses the daily special: a Benny of poached eggs, corned beef hash, and home fries ($12.95). He requests Hollandaise sauce on the side. No problem. Each half of English muffin is topped with a patty of corned beef and sweet potatoes — a really delicious, homemade hash. My guest, who considers himself something of a hash aficionado, gives it an enthusiastic thumbs up. The poached eggs are firm, just as he requested, and his first bite of the home fries brings lyrical praise. This is one happy customer.
My second guest asks for Eggs Madeline, another version of the classic Benny, this time made with smoked salmon ($13.95). Generous slices of smoked salmon are topped with medium poached eggs and Hollandaise. She has asked for french fries rather than home fries. No problem. These are crisp and overflow the platter. Another thumbs up, though my elderly mum has a comment.
“They’re giving too much food, I can’t finish it all,” she says. “They could save themselves some money by serving less.”
My choice is Eggs Florentine, with spinach and grilled tomato slice under the soft poached eggs, then topped with Hollandaise ($11.95). You might have noticed my descriptors of our eggs. All three were exactly as requested — ranging from runny to firm. In a busy kitchen, it speaks volumes that the chef has made the effort to get these just right.
What he didn’t get right for me is the tomatoes. The slices are so thin, they add no flavour to the dish, and they don’t appear to me to be grilled. It’s a pity because the home fries are delicious. Crisped and tossed with onions, they are some of the best I’ve ever eaten. All three dishes come with some fresh fruit: watermelon, strawberries, and cantaloupe. In fact, everything is so good, I’m putting the tomatoes down to an oversight.
Diners like this one are rare gems, still thriving with a menu that’s simple — breakfast standards, sandwiches, burgers and the usual accompaniments. The food is generously portioned, well-prepared and served piping hot. The staff are friendly and chatty, often greeting regulars by name. It’s like a step back in time.
If you haven’t yet discovered this spot, pop in for breakfast, lunch, or brunch. You won’t be sorry.
The Homeway Soda Bar, 955 Mt. Pleasant Rd. 416-488-3242. Washrooms are downstairs. The website is under construction but you’ll find them on Facebook: Homewayrestaurant.