Cave Mountain Brewery – October 2011 (dt)
6.00 – 7, 6.5, 6, 6, 6, 6, 5.5, 5

We finally made it to Windham, and Cave Mountain Brewery, a month’s delay caused from cleanup from the devastation of Hurricane Irene. The town was lit brightly although some businesses have not yet re-opened.
               CMB is set in an old classic store front on Main Street, with it full length plate windows, visually divided in half by the set-in entry lobby. All directions go left, through the bar and grill, around the corner, and before circling back into the table room, awash in the glow of fresh squash-pumpkin-orange paint. A banquette anchors one wall, and about fifteen square tables fill the rest of the room, the orderliness of which we immediately changed to suit ourselves, with Ken and Chay moving to the heads of the ‘table’. The wall behind the banquette held ten framed large photographs, breaking up the potential monotony; the opposite wall contained the right-hand lobby entry door (kept locked) as well as several windows looking into the bar/grill area. The front wall peers through the plate windows.
                Food is, well, classic brew pub, with ten or so appetizers, a dozen and a half entrées, and a handful of desserts, all fitting neatly on to a laminated half-sheet. For appetizers, Judy ordered the chili, and Ken the onion rings, which he passed around the table a couple of turns.
               The regular list is complemented by a half-dozen specials. Selections included: the burger on ciabatta (Tim, it’s a burger, a good one); Greek salad (Deb T, ok, a bit light on feta); the rib plate (Ken, quite satisfied); fish & chips (Kriss, good); Cuban sandwich (Deb K, very good); Buffalo chicken wrap (Chay, good, although one half was not so Buffalo). Fries accompanied these orders.
               The grilled salmon salad on iceberg special captured two takers: (Don, the cucumber-wasabi dressing was a good match, a tasty six ounce slab of salmon; and Judy, with vinaigrette, good salmon, not fond of ice berg).
               All in all, the food is consistent, reasonably priced, with a good enough selection.
               The dessert course aroused no interest so we skipped. Somehow we were not in the mood for a root beer float, or a beer float, or fried cheese cake, or the shake. There wasn’t much else.
               Drinks, of course, reflect the brewery setting. Deb T and Don each tried a sampler – a wooden tray holding six glasses, each filled with four-ounces of choice, while Tim and Chay tried a couple pints of regular selections. Three wine drinkers (by the glass) and a diet soda filled out the drink order.
               The final bill came to $62 per couple (including tax, drink, and tip), a wallet-light evening for Dinner Party of Eight.
               Service was good, with Liz showing attentive and helpful service, promptly taking care of. Thanks, Liz.
               More ambiance should be noted. Entry into CMB, the left-hand room, plops one into the bar/grill area, a mix of visual and auditory cacophonies. Two high tables command the front window; six booths line the interior wall, with a view of the bar, grill and TV; and about ten stools line the bar. The wall is dominated by the beer-listing menu, with the following board the food menu. The lighting is somewhat dim, and the noise of talking and TV causes one to talk semi-loudly. And the passing of waitstaff and customers through the slim passageway is part of the activity level.
               The bathrooms (well, the men’s, at least) deserve a special note with one tall wall lined with rows of cans of beer from across the world. On the way there, one walks past the holding tank room for the beer, not the usual distraction.
               Noise level was somewhat high, with no cushioning of noise against mostly flat, hard walls. Although a person could be heard at the table, it took a focused effort to do so, and there were more than a few times that we were engaged in three different conversations.
               On the way out, Chay was refused the filling of his growler because of short supply for the weekend, which left us scratching our heads. A brew pub running out of weekend beer on a Friday night!
               And the causal permeates, perhaps a little far but is part of the attraction. Laminated menus (attractive enough) seemed appropriate; plastic-ware for the salmon seemed a bit casual; a lack of knives; paper cups for water – it was mostly fine. It felt like a Cheers kind of place.

The evening had started, well, had started in Windham, with a Friday night event thwarting a pre-meeting, and we convened a half-hour earlier than usual so the real world workers could get home at a reasonable hour. Still, we took two hours to get our fill of each other!
               We caught up with the major stories and then followed up on details – the Adamses’ RV trip to Finger Lakes (with Teators) and Gettysburg & Manassas, the Karneses’ trip to the Finger Lakes; the Yankees; Kalli; the next day’s snipping of Monet and Jackson; the grandkids; Jen and Saratoga and her traveling; Thanksgiving preps, with the notable historic moment of the Monteverd Turkey-day not in Freehold for the first time in a looong time, and what that meant for the usual past invitees; C-D school stuff, with the surprisingly good start – good job, Nate!; the planned three winter months absence of Tim & Judy; foliage color (or drabness); the RV again, and its operation.
               And then…, ...
               Hurrah for Windham coming back from disaster....