The original Basil and
Wicks was in operation when we first moved to the Adirondacks in
the mid-1970s. I won’t be
named “Mom of the Year” for saying this, but back then I thought
of Basil and Wicks as a “family bar.” It was clean, well-managed
and friendly. Basil – or was it Wick? – we never knew who it was
behind the bar – ran a tight ship.
It was a great place to go with your kids for an inexpensive
afternoon’s fun. With a couple of beers and a pair of Shirley
Temples you were ready to rack up some balls for an afternoon
pool game. I can still remember our youngest daughter, who was
just tall enough to rest her chin on the edge of the table,
standing on a chair and trying to run the table with a cue stick
almost as long as she was tall. She developed a skill that made
her a preferred pool partner in college. Many North Creek kids
grew up with Basil and Wicks as one of their family haunts. The
old Basil and Wicks was a place where fellas would stop in for a
quick beer and small talk on the way home from work. The local
Rotary club met there, and the volunteer fire company held its
annual banquet under its roof. The food was simple, but good.
One Saturday evening in the
‘80s, with our kids home in the care of a sitter, we ventured up
to North Creek to introduce our friends Jean and Rob, visiting
from Connecticut, to Basil and Wicks. We stomped the snow off
our feet before entering, and found the place humming with folks
fresh off the ski slopes enjoying the warm room and warmer
conversations. We stopped at the bar to order drinks, the
husbands leading with an order of two Buds. It was Jean’s turn
to order. She pondered a moment and said, “Could I have a
Heads along the bar turned,
the bartender groped for words, and Rob jumped into the silence.
“She’ll have a Bud,” he said.
My husband, without
consulting me, completed the order. “Make it four.” Basil and
Wicks was simple, uncomplicated and straightforward.
don’t recall when our little old “family bar” shuttered its
doors, but it was sad to drive down NYS Route 28 and see it
closed, its parking lot empty. And then came the day in 1999
that the very fire company that had enjoyed all those annual
dinners, came to demolish the building by setting it afire. I’m
told that local folks lined up along route 28 for the passage,
sitting teary-eyed in lawn chairs with coolers beside them – the
Adirondack equivalent of an Irish wake, perhaps.
But life went on, and one
day construction began on a large rustic log structure which was
to become “Casey’s North” – a nice restaurant and bar that
operated for several years, before being renamed “Kelly O’s” by
new management. But times were bad, and bad times are toughest
of all on eateries, and the new structure was closed. It sat
idle for about two years.
That’s when Jane Peter, a
North Creek native, returned to the area after 30 or so years
away, having worked in various businesses during her absence.
Now she was looking for something to do. She remembered the
Basil and Wicks of her youth, and what a spot it had held in the
heart of the community. She yearned to see the site come alive
again. She looked at it and thought, “Well, there’s something I
haven’t tried!” She bought it, and after receiving permission
from family members of the original owners, Basil LaPointe and
Wick Martin, re-opened it under its old name, “Basil and Wicks.”
Nathalie Martin Sharrow contributed some nostalgia-inducing
items from the old bar and restaurant – a clock, a painting, and
even the old weather-worn sign. Jane has mined the past to
create murals which appear on her walls, with vignettes
contributed by a local resident.
mammoth interior of the new structure with its massive log
timbers is reminiscent of the old Adirondack Great Camps.
Divided into two sections, the main dining area can seat 65,
while the lodge area accommodates 75, making it a fine place for
large groups. Families find it a comfortable place to dine with
Jane Peter has been running
Basil and Wicks for about five years now, a labor of love that
pays tribute to her community and to its history. In a town that
is home to Gore Mountain Ski Center, she does a brisk après ski
business during the winter. And in spring, there are the
whitewater enthusiasts, fresh off the Hudson from their
harrowing adventures. “But,” she says, “my guests fall into so
many categories. Some are people I see once; some once a year;
some are seasonal home owners who come in once a week. There are
regulars from the community, and yes – there are still the folks
who stop in for a brew on their way home from work.”
new Basil and Wicks, while embracing tradition, also dares to
venture into new territory, with an extensive menu of American
comfort foods, seafood and steak. Guests rave about the lobster
mac and cheese, sesame soy marinated ahi tuna and soba noodles,
stuffed trout and baked haddock, and, in another nod to history,
the “Basil burger.”
The appetizer choices include bleu cheese chips, eggplant fries,
and highly-acclaimed nachos. Health-conscious patrons enjoy the
light menu and salads, and those with special needs appreciate
vegetarian and gluten-free choices. The bar has a selection of
about 35 wines, over 30 beers and some locally handcrafted ales.
Heck, I’ll bet they even have Perrier.
The food is good, varied
and plentiful. Equally important to the food and beverage
reviews are the kudos for Basil and Wicks’ staff members,
long-time employees who offer professional and courteous service
and extend a genuine North Country welcome. Just five minutes
from Gore Mountain, and perhaps 25 from Lake George Village,
Basil and Wicks is a bright spot in Adirondack hospitality.
Check for days and hours
http://www.basilandwicks.com/ or by phoning 518-251-3100.
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