Camel’s Crossing: Bold Cuisine in Hyde Park
“The up and down, the carousel.
Changing people, they’ll go round.
Go underground, young man.
People make the world go round.”
It’s often been said that music can change the world. In Boise, a song by the Stylistics helped inspire Scott McCoy to create Hyde Park’s newest wine bar and restaurant.
He said, “I saw this space and just fell in love with it instantaneously, and then I went home and I heard a song by the Stylistics . . . and this just totally emanated from that song almost purely.”
“People Make the World Go Round” was recorded in the early 1970s and what used to house Acquired Again Antiques has been transformed into an intimate space that riffs from that era. Boldly colored black and orange-red wallpaper, copied from a German design from that turbulent decade, makes a statement in the front bar area while a more subdued wall covering and five black Naugahyde booths adorn the narrow, but comfortable back dining room. The bar space sports gold laminate tables, black vinyl chairs and stools.
Most of the bright artworks that hang on the walls were painted by McCoy’s father, Randy, who passed away three years ago. Scott said, although he didn’t know it at the time, the paintings fit in perfectly. He decided, “I built this whole place for my dad and I had no idea.”
The elder McCoy had worked for 40 years at the family’s rug-cleaning business and was about to retire when he found out he had stage four cancer. “He only lived for a year after that and that had all the impact in the world on me and my decision making,” said Scott. “I felt that was a complete tragedy that he worked so hard for so long and didn’t pursue a lot of his dreams. That was a massive motivation for me to say, ‘OK, let’s do it. Let’s open up a wine bar. Let’s open up a restaurant. No regrets.’”
Scott and his wife and business partner, Caitlin, opened Camel’s Crossing in September after about a year and a half of planning and construction. The wine bar and restaurant offers a dozen wines by the glass and about a hundred different bottles sourced from around the world and the United States. They also sell five taps of draft beer and cider as well as more than a dozen in cans and bottles.
In the kitchen, Chef Christian Phernetton presides over a menu that offers salads and soups, small and large plates, and dessert. Phernetton grew up in the area, having attended high school in Meridian, but spent much of his career in places such as Chicago, Northern Virginia, Miami and the Bay Area.
On a Monday night, a manageable number of guests sat in the bar and dining areas. A booth in the dining room across from two club chairs provided a view of the action in the bar, where a couple took selfies in front of the wallpaper.
There were nearly a dozen choices for wine bottles priced around $30 and we opted for a Cabernet Sauvignon by Warwick Estates in South Africa. We also shared a small plate of corn pancakes topped with king crab and a cabbage-carrot slaw that whet our appetite for two of the larger plates. My wife opted for tender, pressure-cooked octopus with chorizo slices, Jimmy Nardello peppers that provided a hint of sweetness and nasturtium pesto and leaves that delivered a smoky, earthy base.
The other large plate, a special that night, consisted of bison short ribs, Swiss chard, heirloom cauliflower, puréed kabocha squash, pickled rhubarb and elderberries. The acid from the rhubarb and elderberries paired nicely with the rich, but lean, meat as well as our bottle of wine.
Phernetton said he sourced most of the produce for that night’s meal from his family’s small farm in Hammett; his mom made deliveries twice a week. The greens, herbs and edible flowers came from the McCoys’ garden, just two blocks away.
A smooth soundtrack full of Philadelphia soul and other songs from the ’70s accompanied us that evening. And, for a while, we were transported to a place more unique and distinct in style than nearly anywhere else to eat and drink in the Treasure Valley.
Camel’s Crossing Wine Bar
1304 W. Alturas St., Boise