150 Boise Icons: Merritt's scones

awebb@idahostatesman.comApril 26, 2013 

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Did you know? Merritt’s recently lost its patriarch. Original owner Les Merritt, George Merritt’s dad, died in March at the age of 85. “He was born the same year the Yatesville truck stop opened,” said George. “We liked to say that they were both 1928 models.”

ANNA WEBB — awebb@idahostatesman.com

The classic Merritt's scone is a flying saucer of warm dough with an orb of melting honey butter - more Indian fry bread than British tea confection.

Delicious, yes. There for you in your time of need, yes.

Cooks at Merritt's fry scones around the clock. The cafe is open nearly 24/7. It closes Sunday nights at 10 p.m., but is open again a mere eight hours later at 6 a.m. every Monday morning.

The Merritt family took over the former Yatesville truck stop in 1975 on what was then the outskirts of town at 6630 W. State St. They started making scones as a cheaper alternative to bread, said proprietor George Merritt. For a long time, the cafe was known for its biscuits and gravy. But in the past 20 years, scones have become the big draw.

Growing up in Boise in the 1980s, going to Merritt's was standard practice at the end of a night of dancing at the Crazy Horse (one of the incarnations of the Red Room), drinking beer up on Table Rock, driving around the hills or standing around at Bronco Stadium during cold Friday night high school football games.

Those are the youthful moments when hunger for something warm and fried becomes a kind of desperation.

Things haven't changed much at Merritt's, said server Rhonda Bothke.

"You come here at midnight and it's all kids with milkshakes and scones."

Merritt's is popular with people on their way to the race track and with "skiers coming in for their ritual breakfasts," said Merritt.

Besides plain scones, Merritt's offers scones with pudding, scones with igloos of whipped cream, "Dutch Baby" scone bits with lemon juice and powdered sugar, scones covered with sundae ingredients, and scones rolled in cinnamon.

There are savory versions, too - scones acting as omelette plates and scones playing the part of shells, filled with taco fixings.

The jukebox is still cranking out a full roster of country tunes, with Bob Marley and Queen thrown in for balance. Portraits of race horses hang on the walls. Framed photos remind patrons of a time when State Street was a sleepy, two-lane road and the acres behind Merritt's were pastures, not subdivisions.

Anna Webb: 377-6431

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