The staff outnumbered the patrons when we arrived at the Hague Firehouse between 4 and 5 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon. The two bartenders on hand seemed to be more than enough for two men on one side of the bar and two women on the other. We chose two seats in the middle of the horseshoe shaped bar. A couple took refuge in the shade of the deck, enjoying the soft murmur of the surrounding trees and the brook below. Waitresses gathered in a far corner, taking turns between preparation and conversation. A summery breeze gently wound its way through the open front door, flirted with patrons, and escaped out the back through the sliding glass door in the wall of windows leading to the deck.
The gunmetal grey cinder block exterior and barn red garage doors give the impression that the building has not undergone much change from its former life to its reincarnation. One step inside puts that assumption to rest.
Admiring the firehouse-themed artwork and occasional model fire engine, we easily relaxed in the airy, inviting decor. The walls are assertively painted in rich, earthy red and yellow ochre tones, accented with whimsical metal sculptures. A long bench, upholstered in a bold peacock inspired design, provides seating at several tables along the corner of the dining area. Remnants of the Hague Firehouse’s former functionality remain. From steel beams in the high ceiling to the concrete floor painted a muted deep red, industrial accents complement the comfortable style. Fans turn softly overhead, discouraging the lingering of air. Steel pipe serves as footrest at the bar and safety on the deck. A variety of glasses, suspended by chains over the bar, wait as expectantly as the milling waitresses.
We ordered our beverages. Pam, uncharacteristically, already had a drink in mind and quickly decided on a rum madras. Kim chose a Switchback from the handful of draft selections. Stella Artois, Long Trail, Guinness and Saranac Pale Ale can be enjoyed by the pint, or Newcastle, Sam Adams, Corona, Blue Moon, Lake Placid UBU and several others by the bottle. Wine and liquor options are modest but adequate. The two drinks came to $10.50.
Outdoor seating is available front and rear, where one can seek respite in the shade of an oversized striped awning in the quiet oasis of the rear deck, or choose to observe traffic and pedestrian comings and goings on the patio in front. Wrought iron tables, a few with cheerful umbrellas, are set up on the front patio. Pam, making her exterior observations, watched four women make their way up the sidewalk from the town center a block away. They entered the Firehouse. Moments later, she watched as four more women approached from the same direction. Pam ducked inside to claim her seat and watch whatever was about to unfold.
Women, bedecked with amply filled wine glasses, conversed at the bar, as the others filed in from their walk. Men, with wives or sons or daughters, started to even the one-sided gender population. Some gathered at the bar while others took tables inside or on the deck. Within a very short time, the sparsely occupied bar became crowded as greetings and conversation filled the air. The waitresses were in full swing.
A conversation with the bartender, Molly, netted Pam a new drink at the mention of their most recent signature drink involving tequila and dubbed the French Gimlet. Made with tequila, St. Germain and fresh lime, it was a unique flavor combination, tart and salty.
The Hague Firehouse has been in business for six years and is owned by Molly’s parents, Sheri DeLarm and Cris Ginn. A labor of love and learning, the family has cautiously progressed through the stages of new ownership to established business. The restaurant and bar are open seasonally, Thursday through Saturday in May and June, then daily during the summer. The restaurant is open from 4:30 to 10 p.m., though bar hours are often later, dictated by demand. The Firehouse does not have a Happy Hour, but a 10% discount is offered to those dining between 4:30 and 6 p.m. The menu is fresh and creative, offering a variety of appetizers, salads, sandwiches and entrees, at what we would consider moderate prices. Live music is occasionally featured.
Parking spaces at the Firehouse are limited to two handicapped and one not, but parking can be found a very short distance above and below the Hague Firehouse. A visit to the Hague Firehouse promises exciting beverage options, a generously filled wine glass, friendly service, a variety of seating options and an interesting menu selection.
The FireHouse is a nice place for a good drink, however it will be very hard to achieve the legendary status of the Cave.
Ah yes. The Cave. Though we never had the opportunity to spelunk The Cave, we have heard of its legendary status. Perhaps you could enlighten us, in detail, over a beverage some time?
Thank you, I appreciate your offer. These days however I try to keep my drinking activities at hunting camp. The Cave had a distinct advantage over Essex county bars in that it could stay open a few hours later. People always talked about the exodus of people from Ti’s establisments to catch last call at the Cave. You can ask the locals, and the summer residents, the ones who are old enough to have experienced it, about its great history. I have heard many stories of people who didn’t know a damn thing about the town of Hague, except when you mentioned it had this bar called the Cave. All of a sudden their memories would be jogged, and a smile would come accross their faces and they would exclaim something like “Oh yeah I remember that place.” Then they would wax about a great story, or an experience they had there. When they found out that it was no longer there, they always reacted in dismay. It was as if they had heard news that an old friend had died. Ahhh ! the Cave! You could write a book on its legends and lore.