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Visit to Basil and Wicks
By Persis Granger                                                                       

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.


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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 Perrier?”

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.

I 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.

The 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 young children.

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.”

The 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 open at http://www.basilandwicks.com/ or by phoning 518-251-3100.

 

 

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