I was shocked to learn that there is a business in Barnhartvale that is a one-stop destination for dining, gardening, giftware, home decor and a leisurely walk beside a pond with wild baby ducks.
The Pond Country Market checks off all those boxes.
During a recent visit, the food stole the show and the eclectic ambience made for a noteworthy afternoon adventure.
Let’s dig into the special I had: a made-from-scratch, gourmet twist on the traditional grilled cheese sandwich. The naan bread arrived warm and soft, and contained the perfect balance of moist chicken, grilled cheese, mushrooms, peppers and caramelized onions. A hint of spice in the grilled cheese made it special. The dish was served with a sweetly seasoned mayo sauce that made for an enjoyable dipping experience.
Between the five salad options, I was pretty torn trying to decide on which bowl of greens to choose. In the process of figuring out this first-world-problem, I learned that one of The Pond Country Market co-owners used to own the Hot House Bistro in downtown Kamloops. If you liked the Hot House Bistro’s Tequila Lime Salad, then you’ll be happy to know that you can still order it.
The salad kept its name in its transition over to Barnhartvale because it’s the exact same concoction of mixed greens, sliced cucumbers, roasted almonds, cranberries, apple, feta and smoked pork (or grilled chicken). You just have to be willing to make the drive to Kamloops’ southeast end. While The Pond Country Market offers local B.C. craft beers and interesting spin-offs like the Cosmopondlitan, you’ll have to arm-wrestle your date to settle who the designated driver will be.
On to the next dish.
The burrito arrived as a steaming hot sandwich, generously portioned to fill even the heftiest of appetites. The roasted chicken breast was wrapped up in a blend of cheese and infused rice that faintly tasted like spiced tomatoes. It was the delicious house salsa and jalapeno lime sauce that added a unique and very flavourful kick. The Pond Country Market really knows how to deliver on perfectly textured, moist chicken.
Over the past week, I asked many people at random if they had heard of The Pond Country Market. Most had not. It’s definitely a hidden gem worth placing on your hit list. En route, visitors can take in the beautiful scenery of Kamloops’ rolling hills, and upon arrival, only need to turn a blind eye to the lacking storefront aesthetic that faces the parking lot. A step inside will reveal a charming interior filled with affordably priced succulents and colourful mini-cactus plants. A few steps further, and you’ll find a consignment area for real antiques.
I love places that have character, and The Pond Country Market’s dining area offers an eclectic array of cozy seating arrangements that are comparable to The Art We Are. On my visit, I noticed that the staff began to place reserved table markers — on every single table. So, if you plan on dining with a special guest, it's recommended you make a reservation.
A giftware section (inclusive of epic feminist mugs), surrounds the dining area, and on the downside, you might return home having spent more than you planned on.
When you finish devouring your delicious meal, you can take a romantic stroll past the outdoor patio to admire the many flowers for sale, and then walk over to relax by the pond.
I hope the wild baby ducks make their rounds when you visit too.
Emiko Ohama is a Kamloops resident, writer, photographer and speaker. When she's not searching for her next local establishment to review, she’s either working as a kinesiologist, volunteering in the community or travelling. You can now follow her adventures on Instagram.