Crossroads Brewing Company – November 2012 (dt)
6.10 – 6.75, 6.55, 6.5, 6.5, 6, 6, 5.5, 5

As soon as we turned left onto 385, the call for Crossroads rang out and, sure enough, in ten minutes, we were there.
               Occupying the old Opera House, a block off Rt 385 in Athens, Crossroads Brewing Company is a heart-warming, lively and cozy addition to Athens’ mix of eateries, and one that many nearby towns would strive to have.
               The menu is a mix of brew-pub-plus food – one soup, three salads, seven appetizers, four sandwiches, and an entrée list of four items – while a roster of ten home-crafted beers makes for an interesting and cohesive match.
               The drink order started with three glasses of wine, three pints of Crossroads’ beers (eventually that became five or six), a soda and a water. The listing of beers was prominently chalked onto the wall behind the bar, with IBUs (hop content, we were told) and alcohol content posted, something we beer consumers enjoyed comparing.

          Appetizers consisted of:
Empire salad – mixed greens, apples, goat cheese, walnuts, wine vinaigrette (Deb: very good)
Caesar salad – romaine, beer bread croutons, parmesan (Chay: very good)
the cheese board, for the table – four cheeses, baguette slices, salami, mustard and honey (good variety of local cheeses)
Pig & Pickle, for the table – fried bacon, fried pickles (undeniably bad of us but both were tasty)

==>turkey pot pie – a scalding skillet, chunks of potatoes, celery, nice crust (Don & Judy: both thought good chunks of turkey, broth a bit bland)
==>mushroom casserole – another scalding skillet of beans & mushroom (Deb K: very good)
==>mac ‘n cheese – a scalding skillet of semi-dry mix, quite tasty and the other skillet people thought it the best of the three (Kriss: quite excellent)
==>burger, with frites (Tim: quite good; Ken: good)
==>wings & celery (Chay: pretty good)
==>mussels – a heaping bowl (Deb T: ok)
(the skillet entrées came with a small salad)

==>only two desserts plus a combo of floats
               Two of us were contemplating participation but the live music was just getting ready to kick in and we old people needed to leave before our eardrums were tested (although a couple later voiced disappointment we did not stay). No dessert, and no one seriously contemplated visiting Stewart’s on the way back.

Ambiance is engaging and enticing, with a street-facing front wall of 4’ x 8’ glass panels, with two four-feet-deep recesses that use a double door entry. Inside is a 40’ x 70’ cavern, with the 40’ cut in half, the front half being the dining area, and the back half the bar and stool-table seating.
               The front half hosted more windows on the left (east, facing the river), and the right has windows peering into the brewing tanks. A dozen four-person pressed-board tables, with similar chairs filled half the space. Wainscoting, chest high, divides the front half from the back half, with heads sporadically ogling over from the bar side. Ten hanging lights, with the curved metal hoods lined the main space, with four more lights lighting the jut-outs caused by the doorway recesses.
               The back half is lined by a rugged bar, rimmed with a dozen bar-stools, with a half-dozen two-person tall tables lining the other side of that wainscoted wall we hugged. The hallway in back led to the bathrooms, kitchen, and tanks.

All the windows and hard surfaces allowed every piece of noise to reverberate. The room is loud, loud enough that the ends of our four-facing-four table resigned themselves to not hearing any of the other end’s conversation unless one nearly shouted.
               The tables were minimally set, with a paper-banded napkin holding a fork and knife. Centerpieces of sturdy glass votive holders, each containing an LED candle-light finished the effect.
               The intrusion of cold drafts could not be ignored. Every time the outside doors were opened, and that was often, and sometimes long-lasting, especially if someone pushed them far enough to stick open, a polar wave rushed into the dining area, forcing some to don coats. Anyone within twenty feet of the door went from comfortable to quite uncomfortable, something that everyone mentioned. Perhaps, the other side of the wainscoted partition was less prone to this cold air.
               Service was good and attentive. Cass, a former C-D student, served our table well. The wait for entrées, though, felt a bit long.
               Pacing was about average – two hours, a longer time than nearby tables seemed to experience.
               The bill came to $60 per couple.

So, in the end, everyone agreed that Crossroads was a place to return to for a beer and a casual eat, with its lively attitude, proximity to a Hudson River view, and cozy character.
               One more note: Chay’s growler was one of more than a half-dozen that were filled that evening, most of them solitary characters expectantly lumbering in and, soon enough, lumbering back out on the way back home in town, we surmised.

 The drive on 385 approaching Athens sparkled in the dark, with the house and street lights of Mt. Merino, first, and then, of downtown Hudson and then the heights. One can think of winters past, before icebreakers, when a frozen river allowed an easy Athens-Hudson crossover.
               And November’s early darkness grabs ya, much sooner than we are ready for, but it’s there. As is November’s turn to winter’s cold, making us question if we have to really dress that warmly.
               We started in the faded light, or was it dark already, at the Karneses’ abode. Kalli is still a young handful.
               Deb had set a plate of cheddar/smoked gouda/buffalo wing/horse radish cheese slices, with an accompany basket of Ritz-type crackers. Another tray of pepper slices, baby carrots chunks, and celery lengths, accompanied a dip. A third tray contained beef steak rolls, to be dipped in soy-teriyaki sauce. All were enjoyed, and thanks, Deb.
               Chay helped wet some parched throats with a sparkling and a Greg Norman cabernet-shiraz, along with some soda.
               The dominating strand of conversation was the Monteverds’ two weeks in Hawaii, shortened by three days by Hurricane Sandy’s effects on the NYC airports. Both were tanned and full of stories of what “paradise” was like.
               The next strand, again in the Monteverd family, was the baby shower the following day at the Brasserie for Jen.
               Other topics included Deb T’s mother, Nathan’s addition nearing an end, Deb K’s “ticker,” Deb K’s trip west to see mom, school, Thanksgiving preparations, Tim’s procedure and (lack of) progress, grandchildren, Hurricane Sandy, hunting season, and, as usual, more.