A northern Vermont truck stop, where the pies just dare you

Posted 10.08.03

A week in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont is usually an ocular feast for tired flatlander eyes. This year, with no frost through the first week of October, the Vermont forecasters need to up-date the foliage model to give us a better bead on the state's most colorful season. So with a degree of disappointment over missing the peak of the top of Vermont's foliage season, I returned on October 5 to New Jersey.

On the return, down Interstate-91 from the Canadian border through the middle of Vermont, I decided on breakfast at a truck stop in Wells River, just off exit 17.

truck stop

The place is called, simply enough, P & H Truck Stop. Their business card boasts: Restaurant, Fuel & Gas, Propane, Truck Store, Truck Scales, and Private Showers. Open 24 hours -7 days.

The very simple building, with gasoline service bays on one side, does not stand out as a place you would earmark as a wonderful eating stop. But I can assure you that it is a stop you will want to visit many times over.

First of all, what does the P & H stand for? I might have guessed maybe Philip & Harriet or Paul & Hermione or some other blend of two names.

Wrong. The letters stand for Pride & Honesty.

Nelson Baker has owned the P & H for the past nineteen years and he believes in treating his guests with good food, and lots of it. It was 7:45 AM on a Sunday morning when I arrived, and there were six people in line waiting to be seated, and a similar number waiting in line to pay their bill. Being alone, I chose to sit at the counter and went in immediately.

Foregoing the extensive menu, I chose between the Hunters Special and the Fall Foliage Special. Both included meat, eggs, home-made bread toasted, home-fried potatoes and coffee. I still haven't figured out why the hunters need ham (a full one-quarter pound slab) and the leaf peepers get bacon.

I went with the Hunters Special and my plate overflowed. And the home fries weren't those stringy, greasy diner-style potatoes, they were diced the size of Monopoly dice and very edible. As I was leaving at 8:45 AM there was a line of thirty-two people waiting to be seated, and there were ten in line to pay the bill.

I obtained answers to a lot of my questions from the hostess, a charming and very efficient lady named Bibianne LaLiberte - isn't that a great name that would go well on a Montreal marquee?


Bibianne told me that the front dining area seats one hundred, adjacent to the grills and serving areas, with another sixty-five places in the rear near the buffet tables.

The buffet is extensive with the usual fare of eggs, potatoes, toast, pancakes, sausage, ham, and bacon, but it also includes chipped beef, baked beans, corned beef hash, pie, cake donuts, Danish, and fruit.

Miss LaLiberte explained that from 7:30 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. the place is always full, and has a very steady turnover.

One big draw is their on-site bakery.

They make marvelous breads and the biggest seller in the 56 oz. loaf of Cinnamon-Raisin, which I'm told just flies out the door. And they bake a gourmet assortment of pies that just dare you.

Money Magazine recently did a piece on this place and a lot of visitors come just to see if such a place can exist. Eaters come from all the surrounding states, Canada. and some from much longer distances.

Take it from me, the frustrated leaf peeper, this is a place you will want to go out of your way to visit. You'll thank me for the tip.

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