Horne’s fare has a hometown touch
by Peggy Hyland, Contributing Writer
For a throwback to yesteryear with the freshness of today, cruise through Port Royal and stop at Horne’s. It is as good for the whole family as it is for your wallet.
Once part of a large chain, this is the last Horne’s still in operation. The homey feel, retro gift shop, vintage décor and delicious ice cream bar seem unchanged from the chain’s heyday, but without feeling dated or stale. Our server, Lois, has been at Horne’s for more than a decade. She greets us, strangers, as warmly as our local companions.
The buttermilk pancakes were fluffy carb clouds, a breakfast favorite. That is probably why the most popular morning platter is named “The all-time favorite.” I can never get enough pancakes, so it was hard to hold back and save room for the rest of the meal.
I chose the pot roast with gravy. The menu promised it would melt in my mouth, and it delivered. It had that “just like Grandma’s” taste that always elicits a smile. For my sides, I had the cole slaw, delightful with a generous amount of caraway, and the loaded baked beans, which were sweet and tangy and had lots of bacon.
The star of the menu is the fried chicken. Hands down, it is the best-fried chicken I’ve ever had. I know those are fighting words to some, and I don’t say them lightly. The chicken takes 25 minutes to cook and is well worth the wait. All the food arrived at the same time, so no one was left waiting for their chance to tuck in. It comes piping hot, perfectly seasoned and extra crispy. Even with a recent modest price increase, it costs less than $20 for a 4-piece order with two sides. It is enough food for two friends to split, or, in our case, one hungry husband.
Potato lovers will love the side options: thin and crunchy house-made potato chips, fries with that perfect level of crispiness, or creamy, smooth mashed potatoes with gravy.
We all rounded out the meal with milkshakes and malts. My companions opted for vanilla and strawberry. They were classic, creamy and thick. I am a malt lover, so I chose a cookies and cream malt. It took me back to my childhood, with the malts my father used to make for me.
On your way out, you can browse the gift shop for everything from Virginia peanuts and hot sauces to old-fashioned stick candy and cold glass-bottle sodas. Having filled your belly, you can also fill your gas tank before hitting the road. Located at the intersection of U.S. 17 and U.S. 301, Horne’s is right on your way, but it is also great as a detour or a destination drive.
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