Words & Deeds

New ’70s-themed Boise bar opens with octopus on menu and Marvin Gaye on vinyl

If you encounter a line outside Camel’s Crossing this weekend, wait a few minutes. You’ll get over the hump.

The new wine bar in Boise’s North End will only hold 49 people. Owners Scott McCoy and his wife, Caitlin, don’t want to subject patrons to a standing-room-only environment when they open Friday.

“Nothing is more important to me than service,” Scott McCoy says.

Does McCoy’s attitude sound a little old-school? Perfect. Enter Camel’s Crossing, and you feel like you’ve been time-warped into the 1970s. Black vinyl booths line the walls. Classic soul music pipes over the sound system.

Located in the former Acquired Again Antiques space at 1304 W. Alturas St., Camel’s Crossing adds a big-city vibe among the pubs and pizzerias in Hyde Park. The McCoys moved to Boise last year from Portland.

McCoy says they went with the ’70s motif to help make the wine bar feel unpretentious and approachable. As the remodel progressed this year, he also felt the influence of his late father. “I’m pretty sure it’s my father’s personality,” he says, looking around the room.

In the mood for Aretha Franklin? Marvin Gaye? Grab a vinyl album from the shelf near the door and drop a needle on it. Unless you’re too busy checking out the 100 or so bottles on Camel’s Crossing’s wine list. McCoy focuses on value bottles and variety. “My business plan has always been that we wanted to provide relatively affordable bottles,” McCoy says, “being a neighborhood place. Our list encompasses 16 different countries right now.”

Rather drink beer? Camel’s Crossing has five draft handles — one with hard cider — and carries another 15 canned or bottled beers.

Scanning the menu at Camel’s Crossing makes your mouth water. High-end charcuterie is Fed Ex-ed from Olympia Provisions in Portland. “Really beautiful charcuterie,” McCoy says. “All kinds of cured meats that will go on our boards.”

Chef Christian Phernetton also prepares farm-to-table cuisine, partly using vegetables from a North End urban farm.

You can spend as little as $5 on a snack of cucumber, fresh yogurt and red onion. Or order a charcuterie board for $16. Or a four-cheese board for $18.

Enjoy a small plate of corn pancakes, king crab and vegetable slaw for $14. Or go for a large plate of octopus, chorizo, charred peppers and nasturtium ($17). Or porcini-dusted wagyu, smoked carrot and black garlic sauce ($25).

“If (you’re) going to come in and have a nice meal, I think the wagyu is absolutely phenomenal,” McCoy says. “It’s exceptional.”

You have to be 21 years old to check out Camel’s Crossing. The bar will be open seven days a week: 4 p.m. to midnight Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to midnight Saturday and Sunday. If the weather’s nice, you can sit outside. There’s an outdoor patio that seats 16 customers.

North Enders get excited about new bars and restaurants in Hyde Park. The flood of inquiries from passersby has taught that much to the McCoys over the past few months.

Camel’s Crossing is ready for attention, McCoy says, and eager to offer its unique neighborhood experience — with that focus on service.

“It’s not fine dining,” McCoy says, “but I want people to not want for anything. It’s a small space, so people should be well taken care of.”

Online: camelscrossing.com, facebook.com/camelscrossing.

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