By Ashley Lockyer
“Decide on a pie, yet?” A voice sings the question while the coffee is topped up. I’m on my second fork-full of an omelette at Hilltop Cafe in Langley, BC. Pie pushing at 8:30am might seem odd elsewhere but here there’s one for every occasion, including breakfast.
Despite a sign that has read “home of famous pies” since 1950, slices had been going out of style at Hilltop Cafe for decades. When sisters Andrea Zaiser and Sandy Parley took over in 2011, it became their mission to bring back the pies!
It’s been a hit, drawing people far and wide and has even started a food trend for wedding pie instead of cake. These sisters pair pies with meals like sommeliers pair wines with cheese. Andrea offered some advice on what to try when you stop by.
What’s best for breakfast?
After a hearty, savoury breakfast satisfy your sweet tooth with a nice and light selection, like lemon chiffon pie.
What about a coffee stop?
Any of them. But, for a combination that’s “off the hook” try their latest creation: salted caramel peanut butter pretzel cheesecake pie.
Crème pies are the ultimate comfort food, indulge in their banana, coconut, and chocolate varieties.
Make it decadent with a chocolate brownie ganache pie.
Hilltop Cafe has some truly creative tastes to talk about, including chocolate with fried banana or a sour cream and raisin pie.
What’s the best seller?
A Canadian classic: the “flapper” pie. If you’re from the prairie provinces, you’ll know this slice from any social gathering. For everyone else, a flapper pie starts with a crunchy graham cracker crust, is filled with vanilla custard, and then topped off with chewy meringue stacked as high as Vancouver’s North Shore clouds.
What if you want something seasonal?
If farm fresh is your style, their fruit pies are baked by local legend Krause Berry Farms. There’s blueberry, Okanagan peach and cherry, bumbleberry, or strawberry rhubarb slices awaiting a spot on your table. All other pies are baked on site, with love, by Sandie alongside Andrea’s daughter, Jami.
This summer, their seasonal special is a tart and tangy black currant pie. For winter holidays, there’s eggnog pie and in spring you’ll find a chocolate creme egg pie.
The sugar on the crust is that all dishes come served ala mode — with ice cream. Just like home.
Not only are the pies famous, but the location is too. The retro diner has been featured in TV and film productions including Fringe and The Butterfly Effect. Casts featuring Robert Redford and John Travolta have been known to order up pies on set. Movie buffs can speculate which actors tried which pies while scanning the diner’s film memorabilia lined walls.
If the scent of home baked pie doesn’t transport you back in time, the patterned linoleum counters and 1950s diner decor will. After 68 years, the family-owned restaurant has become known for it’s dedication to the classic, from its decor to its dishes.
Owners Andrea and Sandy revived the space to it’s former glory and kept it classic. The diner seeks to bring guests:
“Back to a time when food was made fresh from scratch with local ingredients. A time when you gathered to meet your friends and family and took the time to just sit and enjoy their company and have a home cooked meal.”
Stop off for a slice at your home away from home next time you’re on the highway between Vancouver and the interior or Vancouver and the US border crossings.
Hilltop Café is open daily from 8:00am-2:30pm
23904 Fraser Highway, Langley, BC, V2Z 2K8
Header pie image by shermansfoodadventures.com