Diners may be past their time period, but they’re certainly not a thing of the past. The home-cooked style food and familiar, nostalgic interiors leave customers coming back again and again. Diners are scattered across the country especially with the retro trend resurfacing, but many are recreations located amidst busy city streets–there’s just something missing at these hip spots. Give me that small “ma and pa” kind of diner where everyone turns to look when you walk in, they have your favourite order memorized and the furniture hasn’t been updated since the 60s.
Hoss’s Diner may just be that spot. Located at the intersection of Highway 64 and 30 in Quinte West, this little building is home to an antique shop, an auction hall, Sister Scoops and Hoss’s Diner. I drove there from Belleville on a Friday afternoon to enjoy lunch and fulfill my sweet tooth. The drive there was full of the beautiful landscapes that surround the Quinte West area – a perfect route for a relaxing weekend drive.
I pull into the parking lot in my Jeep at around 1 pm (I think a 1956 Chevy would have looked better parked in front) and was immediately greeted at the front door. The floor consists of classic black and white tiles, there’s at least six Elvis Presley knick knacks near the entrance, the walls are covered in old tin signs from the 50s, the regulars sitting down give each other smiles or nods, and the servers are smiling and making jokes before I sit down. I order a coffee and a server with a cute retro bandana in her hair brings it out promptly. Let me tell you, the customer service here is incredible – you can tell everyone enjoys working here, which is lovely and just adds to the welcoming atmosphere.
Michel “Hoss” Bertrand, the boss, can be seen running back and forth between businesses, checking on the staff, cracking jokes with the customers and running errands. He was nice enough to sit down and talk with me about the business as I waited for my food. Hoss owns the Bay of Quinte Vintage Market, part of the same building, and has worked with auction halls and antiques for years. Needless to say, part of the inspiration for the diner comes from his passion for antiques. “I needed somewhere to showcase all of my treasures and I wanted people to see and enjoy them.” What better way to showcase a collection from the 1950s and 60s than a retro diner. The name Hoss comes from the NBC Western show Bonanza, after the detective Eric ‘Hoss’ Cartwright. The idea, name, legacy inspiration and interior are a perfect recipe for a cozy, classic diner.
“It’s a place for people to enjoy good food, great company, and make even better memories.”
Okay, the design and ambiance is great, but what about the food?! Enter the Hoss Burger from the kitchen: a beef patty piled high with peameal bacon, cheddar cheese, egg, lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickle. This burger definitely put me into a food coma! My first couple of bites brought me back in time to my gramma’s homemade patties and family BBQs – it was delicious. And don’t forget those thick-cut diner fries!
Hoss says everything is homemade here: “If we want meatloaf on the menu it’s made fresh, it’s not delivered in a bag.” That also applies to their desserts, like the homemade berry tart I tried (there’s always room for dessert in my opinion). Overall the food on their very large menu checked all of the boxes for a classic diner and destination spot.
There’s also lot’s more to come for this Quinte West diner, including a liquor license and possibly a patio (stay tuned). The neighbouring business, Sister Scoops, is also new! Hoss’s wife, Karen Bertrand and her sister, Patricia Kelly, run this adorable pink-infused ice cream shop. They serve over twenty-four flavours of local Kawartha Dairy ice cream and milkshakes. If you’re anything like me, you would trade your shoe for an opportunity to indulge in Kawartha Dairy ice cream – I grew up in the Northumberland area enjoying it every weekend.
When you walk in you’re embraced by a lot of PINK: pink walls, counters, doors, writing, beautiful lighting and a simple menu on the wall. Karen and Patricia are smiling, laughing, and working on more renovations to include \in the shop. This place is c-u-t-e and picture-perfect. So, if you’re not filled to the brim with food from Hoss’s, make sure to go next door afterward and get a classic cone and sit on their elegant white table set outside.
So, if you’re like me and crave that kind of atmosphere that plays music that your dad blasted out of his 1988 Ford Bronco OR you’re exploring the Quinte West area and looking for a spot to eat with family and friends, Hoss’s Diner (and Sister Scoops) is a great hidden gem to keep in mind. Be sure to browse all of the decor, try as much diner food as you can (including a classic milkshake) and who knows? Maybe if you ask nice enough, Hoss will play his favourite tune on the 1956 Seeburg Jukebox for you.
Check out these links if you want to learn more about Hoss’s Diner and the other businesses in the plaza!