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JOEL HAWKSLEY | The Roanoke Times
Diners eat lunch at Hometown Family Restaurant in Roanoke.
JOEL HAWKSLEY | The Roanoke Times
The Mediterranean Featured Entree and sides features stuffed squash, cabbage rolls, Lebanese green beans, and tabouleh.
Thursday, July 25, 2013
Hometown Family Restaurant on Brambleton Avenue in Roanoke County has been serving generous portions of American favorites since they opened in September 2012. The restaurant, which is styled like a log cabin, is located in the former Pitt Boss BBQ location.
My first trip to Hometown was for dinner on a Sunday evening. The interior has a casual, homey feel with a spacious dining room and a choice of booths or tables. We were quickly greeted, seated and served our iced teas by a friendly server.
The menu features steaks, chicken, seafood and sandwiches. We noticed that all entrees ($5.99-$9.99) come with two side dishes, a salad and rolls — a generous amount of food for such reasonable prices. There are many side dishes to choose from (19 to be exact), including hot vegetables, potatoes and cold salads.
For the main course I had grilled salmon with Cajun spices, a baked potato and stewed tomatoes ($7.99). My companion chose the steak sandwich ($7.99), served on a sub roll with peppers and onions.
Our salads arrived with a basket of warm rolls and little packets of soft butter. In an era of baby greens and house vinaigrettes, this reminded me how good a salad of cold, crisp iceberg lettuce with creamy blue cheese dressing can be. The salmon was well-seasoned and perfectly cooked. My friend was delighted with her sandwich, which she described as “real steak, and really tender.” Her side dish of pasta salad was bland and oily, but she enjoyed the sweet, chunky stewed tomatoes.
I finished with cherry cobbler ($2.49). It is baked in a little cup and arrived at the table warm from the oven. There was a sugary crust on top, covering the warm cake and slightly tart cherries. After that big meal, I had meant to just try a bite or two, but I finished every bit.
My next meal at Hometown was a Saturday lunch with my mother. In the parking lot, I noticed a big red and yellow Hometown Cooking food truck. Our server explained that the truck sells food at gatherings and events around town, such as races and festivals. It can also be booked for private occasions.
The menu at lunch is the same as dinner . We were interested in a quick, light lunch, so we asked the waitress if we could order just a sandwich, without all the accompaniments. Unfortunately they do not offer a smaller choice and we didn’t want to take food home, so we ordered a sandwich and one side dish each and paid the full meal price.
I had the Mad Dog topped with homemade chili and onion rings ($5.99). My mom had a veggie wrap with french fries ($5.99). The veggie wrap was filled with plenty of lettuce, cucumber, tomato and carrots, but the plain cream cheese spread was boring. I enjoyed my hot dog, and the onion rings were crisp, hot and delicious.
When I checked out the Hometown Family Restaurant page on Facebook, I noticed a diner had left the comment “Definitely the best fried chicken in town.” Now that’s a big statement, especially in a Southern town, so I knew it called for a return trip. I brought along a friend who grew up on good Southern home cooking and who takes fried chicken seriously.
I ordered the rib-eye steak with potato salad and lima beans ($9.99). The steak was tender, juicy and grilled to the medium-rare I had requested. The lima beans were cooked to the proper texture but the potato salad, like the pasta salad, was no more impressive than a store-bought variety. My dinner guest chose the fried chicken ($7.99) with mashed potatoes and lima beans. After the first few bites, she said, “There is someone in that kitchen that knows what they’re doing, because this is like Sunday dinner at Grandma’s.” I tasted the chicken and found it moist and flavorful, with a wonderfully crunchy coating.
Since my last visit, it came to my attention that the Lebanese owners of Hometown have added Mediterranean dishes to the menu, including tabbouleh, kibbeh (a ground meat dish), cabbage rolls and dawood basha, a meatball dish. These entrees can be ordered with American sides; likewise, the Mediterranean side dishes can be ordered with the American entrees.
Despite the tasty food, reasonable prices and friendly service, there were only a few other diners at Hometown Family Restaurant each time I was there. That’s too bad, because I do think that anyone who gives Hometown a try will want to return.
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