Wednesday, October 3, 2012

High Peaks Happy Hour: Baxter Mountain Tavern, Keene

We certainly felt like we’d covered every main route in our travels through the Adirondacks, but if it weren’t for several referrals to Baxter Mountain Tavern in Keene, we might have missed this one. Its location on Route 9N, between Elizabethtown and Keene, eluded us. We’ve traveled to Elizabethtown, then back, and have been through Keene numerous times on our way to Lake Placid and beyond, but never connected the dots. One more reason to abandon the GPS and find your own way.

Recommended to us by numerous hikers, the Baxter Mountain Tavern was obviously well known to so many others – locals, seasonal residents and tourists. As afternoon turned to evening, the bar, restaurant and deck filled with expectant diners. With at least eight people at the bar, our foursome filled it to capacity. Sarah the bartender was kept busy between serving the bar customers and preparing drinks for the diners, but always kept up the smile and attentiveness to all. As Baxter’s got busier, she referred our questions to the owner, Dave Deyo. Equally busy greeting and seating guests, he graciously managed to share information with us.

The single story ranch structure, a study in tan and green, is neat, simple and unassuming. Baxter Mountain Tavern has a large parking area with room for all. The deck area offers a view of a grassy hill giving way to tall pines and nearby mountains. Its location in High Peaks Central, quite close to Baxter and Hurricane trailheads, make it a convenient place for an after hike meal or beverage. Though defined as a tavern by name, it’s more a fine restaurant than tavern. Lots of pine, birch bark wall sections embellished with twigs, and a comfortable couch situated in front of a cozy fireplace give it a tavern feel inside, but the menu, the service and the clientele exceed the expectations of the typical tavern.

With no WiFi, no cell service and only one television, the bar has that feeling of a place to meet up with friends or make new acquaintances without those distractions. Except for the occasional use of first names, it was difficult to discern between locals and newcomers. One group shared a dish of calamari, indicating that they were acquainted with one another and that the calamari was one of the specialties at Baxter’s. Other popular dishes include burgers, tuna, and pork dinners, according to Dave. The Baxter Mountain Tavern serves lunch and dinner, with entrees priced from $9 to $21.

A full wine list and a half dozen draft beers, along with a somewhat modest liquor selection, assure that the visitor will find something thirst quenching. Wines include nearly 30 different choices of red, white and champagne, and the menu states “All wines welcomed” with a corking fee. Draft beer available on the day of our visit were Long Trail Ale, Switchback, Guinness, Blue Moon, Saranac Pale Ale and UBU, all solid, respectable choices, according to Kim. Drink prices are slightly high, though typical for the region and certainly not unreasonable. Happy Hour is not observed at the Baxter Mountain Tavern.

Formerly known as Murphy’s Swiss Hill Lodge, the Baxter Mountain Tavern has been owned and operated by Dave and Hillary Deyo for the past fourteen years. They are open year-round from 11:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m., closing for Thanksgiving and Christmas. They are proud supporters of local fundraising activities for the Keene Fire Department, the Rod and Gun Club, and a variety of golf based charities.

Whether you’re passing through en route to further destinations or just making your descent from a nearby peak, the Baxter Mountain Tavern and Grill offers a friendly place to have a meal, share a snack, have a drink and meet with friends. The Baxter Mountain tavern does not offer live entertainment, but we’re told the locals can be entertainment enough.

 

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In 2013, sisters Kim and Pam Ladd self-published Happy Hour in the High Peaks: An Adirondack Bar Guide and a companion Happy Hour Trail Passport. As they continue to market and distribute their current book, they are back on the trail doing research for their next project – a guide to breweries, wineries and distilleries in and around the Adirondack Park.

In 2014 they created their own drinking event, a bartender competition they call “BARRED!”, which they expect will become an annual event held in the early spring in collaboration with Basil & Wick’s in North Creek.

With the lofty goal of becoming the Adirondack "Drinking Authority," Kim and Pam report on drinking-related topics and events inside the Blue Line here at the Almanack and at their own blog. You can also visit their website, follow them on Facebook, and Twitter.

The pair have spent most of their lives in Warren County. Pam has a degree in Computer Science, but her passion is mixology. She and her family live in Warrensburg. Kim is a freelance photographer with a degree in Advertising Design and lives in Thurman with her husband.





2 Responses

  1. Pablo says:

    The last two times I ate at Baxter Mt. Tavern the service was very, very slow, but your story makes no mention of serving times. Did you eat there or just hang out?

  2. Mark says:

    I’ve eaten in the dining room and at the bar numerous times. This is a place that I keep wanting to like, but the fact is that the food is above average and the wait staff is friendly enough. As to sitting at the bar; it’s a great bar for anonymity. Regulars won’t bother to greet, the bartender barely greets and one doesn’t feel a warmth. I ate at the bar on St. Patty’s a couple years ago( granted a quiet night for them), but it was one of the most solitary meals ever. Note that I am a year round Adirondacker…not a tourist. yet like I said at the outset, I keep wanting to like the place and there is nothing else nearby.

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