WORTHINGTON -- Last Christmas season, I got so worked up about making every holiday party, shopping for the perfect gifts and baking all the cookies in the world, that I wound up throwing out my back on Christmas Eve and being under the weather for the rest of 2012.
This year, to save me from tears and a whole lot of back pain, I've said bah humbug to going that route again. Instead, I've just decided to go with the flow and not fret if I don't get all my cards out (which I didn't), only bake a few varieties of goodies (which I did) and trust that people won't remember or care for too long that I didn't make it to their ugly sweater party or secret Santa swap (though, I'm grateful for all the invitations).
That said, last Saturday I did make it to my friend's place in Northampton for a casual brunch and lazy day of chatting while reclining on comfy couches and chairs. I stayed on into the early evening when nearly a dozen of us gathered in their parlor around a piano to sing traditional Christmas carols, as well as some improvised pop tunes. (Side note: If you don't know the words to a carol, just add the word "meow." Laughs guaranteed.)
Afterwards, on my way home, I stopped by Listons Bar & Grill in Worthington to see my Williamstown neighbor Gina Coleman and her band Misty Blues play there.
For those of you who have never been, Listons is located about 20 miles east of Pittsfield, on the Old North Road portion of Route 143.
One of my best friends from high school used to live in Worthington and I remember stopping there for lunch from time to time, but I hadn't been there to see a band in a few years.
The exterior represents a quintessential Berkshire-region roadhouse, complete with dirt driveway, a tree-lined backdrop and a small diner-size space aglow in neon beer signs. Inside, it's filled with food, warmth and soon-to-be friends.
Aside from Coleman and band member Benny "Fingers" Kohn, I didn't expect to see anyone I knew there. The first thing I was pleasantly surprised to recognize was the third period of Saturday's Bruins vs. Sabres game on all of the bar's televisions. Next, I spotted my friend's dad, his girlfriend and their friends already out on the dance floor by the six-piece band. Then, I turned around and spotted two other neighbors from Williamstown -- my friend Justin Adkins and Gina's husband, Michael Mongue. Later on in the evening, I spotted Kohn's girlfriend, Bobbie, on the dancefloor.
Adkins has a great palate for beer, and he informed me he was drinking an IPA by the Clown Shoes Beer company, so I went with that. Later, I also bought a second beer and a cocktail for my friends, and the three drinks only put me in the hole about $15.
Listons is owned by couple Steve and Diane Magargal, and aims to be a casual, family-style place for lunch, dinner, drinks. It also attracts a good contingent of snowmobilers (there are trail heads in the back) and motorcyclists. The interior walls also include a lot of photos and memorabilia from various community benefits held there.
The menu includes classic burgers, sandwiches, wings and fried munchies. Entrees include chicken, steaks and fried seafood. Steaks can go up to $20, but just about everything else is under $10.
For a small, seemingly out-of-the-way place, Listons does a lot to help customers enjoy the comforts of home. The bar was well staffed, both for people ordering through waitstaff and those just walking up to the wells. People were friendly, sharing seats and booths, as more and more people filtered in. I counted close to 50 at one point. Live music typically happens there Friday nights, so Saturday was an exception and a seemingly welcome one.
The dance floor, which is usually set with a pool table and dining tables, was always moving, and people were chatting and carrying on. It was more so a 30-and-up crowd, though, I did spot a few people who looked to be in their 20s. Then again, two people that night told me I didn't look older than 23. I'll take it!
The only downside to this spot is if you're driving. It was quite a trek down the mountain in Saturday night's fog. Fortunately, I know the roads there, but anytime you're driving at night, you should be careful, especially in an area like this with few streetlights and a likelihood for an animal to cross the road from the woods.
Otherwise, I had the time of my life, and plenty of laughs at Listons, which was just what I needed during the hustle and bustle of the holidays. If you haven't been, it's worth the road trip to Worthington.
Rating: Four mugs.
If you go ...
Listons Bar & Grill, 324 Old North Road/Route 143, Worthington. (413) 238-5353, also on Facebook. Serving food Tuesday, 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Wednesday-Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 8:15 p.m. Bar open later.
Style: Casual pub. Snowmobilers and motorcyclists welcome.
Food: Serving classic American pub fare for lunch and dinner, including burgers, sandwiches, steaks, chicken and fried seafood.
Entertainment: Live music on Fridays and special events throughout the year. NFL Sunday ticket on television screens. Pool table.
Our rating: 1 mug, Run away; 2 mugs, Yawn; 3 mugs, Cheers; 4 mugs, "I'll be back"; 5 mugs, "Round's on me!"
Your rating: You can rate Listons Bar & Grill at www.berkshireeagle.com/The413.