20 minutes north of Boston is Woburn MA. Woburn is mostly residential but lately is becoming known for up and coming restaurants. The Baldwin Mansion in Woburn houses The Baldwin Bar, The Baldwin and Sons Trading Co, and Sichuan Garden II. The Baldwin Bar is nominated for the 2018 James Beard Outstanding Bar Program, was and was named one of the best bars in America by The Daily Meal.
On Friday the 24th of February we had reservations at The Baldwin Bar. A half an hour before our scheduled seating time I received a text that our seats were ready. Once inside we turned to the right and spoke with the host. Our seats were 2 on the far left of the bar. The Baldwin Bar area had a throw back feel to a casual Tiki Bar. There was lots of dark wood, palm leaf wallpaper, and vintage Tiki glasses above the bar. The bartender/server brought us over some water and gave us a minute to select drinks. For our first round we ordered the Corso Cooler and the Trader Vic Mai Tai. The Corso Cooler was nicely crafted but a little too tart for my taste. The Trader Vic Mai Tai was balanced and refreshing.
I appreciated that the bartenders tested their drinks as they were being made. Unfortunately, I started to notice a few things I didn't appreciate it. Our bartender started covering her mouth with her arm when coughing but slowly started to just cough into the air.
Our first selections of food came out and were the Dan dan noodles and Chengdu dry hot chicken wings. We enjoyed both of these dishes and were happy with the level of heat. Next came the Sweet and pungent ribs and Pork Dumplings. These dishes were a little disappointing. The ribs were good but difficult to eat. We've had riblets before but these were tiny (maybe around an inch each). The pork dumplings had the same flavor as the dan dan noodles. We realized that everything was topped off with the same chili oil.
For our 2nd round of drinks I opted for the Trader Vic Mai Tai while Greg chose the Red Baron. The Red Baron was definitely the winner of the evening. The Red Baron was a rye whiskey based drink that was sweet but still refreshing. I am not a fan of apricots normally but the apricot completely makes the drink. At this point in the meal I was really getting irritated. The bartenders were talking loudly about their evenings and one staff member who would come behind the bar often was eating out of a bag of Cheez Its right in front of us. I would also like to mention that while eating Cheez Its with her hands I never saw her wash her hands before returning to work.
Our entree came out and it was the House spicy brisket in cellophane noodle bao along with some white rice. This dish was more than enough for 2, savory, warmly seasoned (five spice), and was very satisfying. The dish is more like glass noodles topped with a beef stew.
In the end we agreed that the drinks were phenomenal, the food was okay, and the service was lacking in cleanliness and professionalism. I wouldn't return to that particular area but would be willing to try the more relaxed upstairs bar of Baldwin and sons trading co (which does offer a different drink menu).