As he usually does, Mr. Mix asked the barmaid. "What do you recommend for a mixed drink? Something sweet...not too fruity...."
The relative fruitiness of Mr. Mix aside, Terri, an attractive, dirty blonde barmaid at Mikey B's took it on as a creative challenge. She gave him a drink that she called a Sicilian Kiss, which was, basically, cranberry juice and Southern Comfort. Mix enjoyed the cocktail, but Mr. Draft was mildly confounded by its' name. A Sicilian Kiss...okay, kiss- got that part- its' red. But what does a bourbon mix that originated in New Orleans and is now distilled in Tennessee, or cranberry juice- the official state drink of Massachusetts- have to do with Sicily? Research began...Mr. Draft found out that the mixing of Southern Comfort and cranberry juice originated in 1939, to coincide with the opening of Gone With The Wind, Garnished with a wedge of lime, it was originally called the Scarlett O'Hara. And that nomenclature makes so much more sense....Scarlett...scarlet red like the juice...and the O'Hara conjures up images of the Deep South...and its' comforts. Sorry, Terri...the Sicilian Kiss name just doesn't cut it.
In any case, Terri was an amiable professional and all the Barflies in attendance were happy with her, and just about everything else at Mikey B's. The selection of drafts included Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Magic Hat #9, Stella Artois, and Shock Top, as well as the usual swill preferred by Mr, Pisswater: Bud and Bud Lite. Mikey B's also offers a good selection of bar grub, such as nachos, burgers, sandwiches, wings, and fries.
Mr. Draft would be remiss to fail to mention that Mikey B's has, collectively, the most beautiful waitresses in city (with all due props to the lovely wait staff at Cork and On the Rocks...)
Mikey B's is a new, notable and happening addition to the city's bar scene, located near the merger of Acushnet Avenue and Ashley Boulevard, near G&S Pizza. Stop in, enjoy the hearty grub, maybe a Sicilian Kiss-- that is, a Scarlett O'Hara--- and enjoy the eye candy. Yeah, Draft isn't being too PC this review... Mikey B's get an 8. Roll Call: Mr. Draft, Mr. 3BOES, Mr. Mix, Mr. Brew-haha, Mr. Pisswater, Mr. Merlot, Mr. Cork.
As he usually does, Mr. Mix asked the barmaid. "What do you recommend for a mixed drink? Something sweet...not too fruity...."
For about a decade-and-a-half, Mr. Draft, Mrs. Draft and the adorable Draft children lived in the far northern reaches of upstate Vermont, minutes from the Quebec border. Vermont's charms are many-- the lovely vistas of the Green Mountains and Lake Champlain, quiet Norman Rockwell villages, Bernie Sanders, Phish, Ben and Jerry's, and some damned good maple syrup....but one thing it lacks is linguica pizza. When Mr. Draft would return on semi-regular visits to New Bedford to see Mama Draft, he'd be jonesin' for a linguica pizza....specifically, the crisp, thin crust, sausage-laden, tomato paste heavy variety served at Pa Raffa's. While Mama Draft ate the antipasto- a pile of iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, green peppers, hots, onion, black olives, ham, pepperoni, and some other tasty mystery meat, topped with olive oil and vinegar, and enough shredded mozzarella to smother a first-grader-- Mr. Draft inhaled the perfect linguica pizza.
When Mr. Draft hit Pa Raffa's on an official Barflies' visit, with Mr. Mix, Mr. 3BOES, Mr. Brew-haha, and new recruit, Mr. Pisswater, in tow, a linguica pizza was promptly ordered and quickly devoured.
Pa Raffa's is located at the crotch of Ashley Boulevard and Acushnet Avenue in the far north end. There is a full service bar but it is small- only four stools. But other than the Barflies, one suspects that most drinkers at the bar are only there while waiting for their takeout- be it pizza, subs, or Raffa's "bucket of spaghetti." Jess, the barmaid, was proficient and cute, and Pisswater lived up to his chosen moniker, drinking one of the macrobrew selections, while Mr. Mix sipped a rum-and-coke. The decor is faux Italian, plastic grapevines and the like, as well as a Pizza Delivery Elmo doll, sitting at one end of the bar.
As a bar, Pa Raffa's is a good pizza joint. As it should be. And all is right with the world. As a bar, it get a 3. But as a pizza joint, it gets a 8. And the linguica pizza gets a 10. Roll Call: Mr. Draft, Mr. Mix, Mr. 3BOES, Mr. Brew-haha, Mr. Pisswater.
Sociologists, historians, cultural scholars, and long-time readers of the New Bedford Barflies Post take note: this is the first bar that the Barflies visited and reviewed that had existed as another bar which the Barflies had also visited and reviewed. Take notes.
Not long ago, the Black Watch Pub, on Dartmouth Street, about midway between Cottage Street and Rockdale Avenue, had different ownership and a different name. It was, formerly, the After Five Bar and Grill. The After Five was unremarkable but its extensive beer selection etched it a rating of 7. Not long after the review was posted on this blog, a series of comments from one or more individuals appeared. Those comments were not simply about the bar but contained vicious personal attacks about the current owner. Whether those comments are justified or accurate is unknown but one thing is known: this space is an inappropriate channel for that kind of ugly acid commentary. The Barflies took a vote and unanimously decided to eliminate the comments that were determined to be of a nature best described as libelous, even if not in the strictly legal sense of the word. The First Amendment may guarantee unabridged free speech, but the NB Barflies do not. The commentator may have valid points- or may not-- and he is welcome to find another venue to voice them.
Now, back to our regularly scheduled review: the Black Watch presents itself as a quasi-Scottish bar (even though Irish flags hung in deference to St. Patrick's Day), and it comes across as patently false. New Bedford has significant populations of those descended from Africa, Cape Verde, Portugal, Quebec, England Ireland, Mexico, Greece, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Italy...and bars that evolve from those cultural identities seem natural in NB and environs. Scotland...not so much. Except maybe as a "brand" appeal to make Robert Burns Day as commercially viable here as St. Patrick's Day or Cinco de Mayo. Please...if there is a significant Scottish population in this area of which Mr. Draft is unaware, apologies are offered. (And yes, to Mr. McManus of the near Cape, and your kilt...a nod and a glass of Glenfiddich next time Mr. Draft enjoys your company!)
The Black Watch retains the large draft selection that the After Five did, and that is the only saving grace. Andy, the bartender / owner, was certainly amiable and capable enough, but in all in all- the bar was virtually empty save for the Barflies and a couple of enthusiastic regulars, who were only too-happy to see some new faces. As the space is large, the sparseness of customers made it seem particularly vacant. And nothing kills a bar faster than a vacuum. Even nature abhors that. In fairness, the Barflies' visit was on a Wednesday night....maybe it hops on a Friday. But Mr. Draft doubts it. It get a very middle-of-the road 5...and fingers are crossed. Roll Call: Mr. Draft, Mr. Mix, Mr. Elixir, Mr. 3BOES, Mr. Merlot, Mr. Sazurac, Mr. Tap.
Named after the famed 15th-century Portuguese navigator who circumnavigated Africa, the Vasco da Gama is an unapologetically sweet, beautiful, old school bar-and-restaurant on Dartmouth street, in New Bedford's south end. The small dark bar is charming in a low-key way, and the bar proper is separated from the dining area by a latticework divider. Mr. Draft was not impressed with the tap selection, but it was better than many, including Beck's Dark and Heineken to accompany the predictable Budweiser. The food that some of the Barflies indulged at the bar- particularly a nice platter of olives and salty cheese- impressed Mr. Draft enough to plan to return with Mrs. Draft to secure a table in the quietly romantic space behind the latticework and indulge in some of the Portuguese specialties, that include goat, rabbit, octopus, and an array of other options from the farm and the sea. The bar's lighting is tastefully subdued and appropriate for a date, or for just hanging out and chatting with some comrades-in-arms. The service was professionally friendly and friendly professional; and the crowd ranged from street-talkin' wannabe homeboy-wiggas to well-groomed suits, sipping cocktails while waiting for their take-out. The Vasco da Gama is one of those places that appears to work equally well as a neighborhood bar- albeit the kind of neighborhood bar that is worth driving across the city to hang out in- and as unassumingly formidable place to partake in a good meal. The old explorer's namesake gets a 7.5. Roll Call: Mr. Draft, Mr. Merlot, Mr. Elixir, Mr. 3BOES, Mr. Sazurac, Mr. Mix.
In a rough-and-tumble neighborhood on Rivet Street in the south end, an unremarkable building houses the corner bar called the Park Sports Cafe. Less than two weeks prior to the Barflies' visit to the Cafe, there was a stabbing just down the street, a not unusual occurrence, and one gets the sense that caution be exercised when strolling around this area when night falls. But that said, there was something cool about this joint. Entered with a bit of unnecessary trepidation, Mr. Draft and his comrades were met with some good tunes emanating from the jukebox, and easily found seats in this comfortable, subdued, old school tavern. Mr. Draft was a bit discouraged by the draft selection- Bud, Bud Lite and Budweiser American Ale. Opting for the best of the three, Mr. Draft ordered the ale, Anheuser-Busch's recent foray into cracking the microbrew sensibility of like-minded drinkers. Unfortunately, the American Ale spout spurted, gurgled and refused to shut off, much to the distress of the harried barmaid, Heather, until a customer seated directly in front of the offending tap offered a strong arm to yank it back and stem the flow. Bud it was. The crowd was predominately older blue collar factory worker guys, wearing flannel shorts and baseball caps, with the exception of a young, hipster couple sitting at one end of the bar. They looked like no one else, but looked like regulars. The woman, cute and attractive in a dork-chic kinda way, with Clark Kent eyeglasses, had a streak of blond in her short cropped black 'do, and her gentleman friend, a tattooed dude who looked like Buster Poindexter with a long goatee. For moment, Mr. Draft was reminded of Williamsburg, the section of Brooklyn, a subway stop from Manhattan, that has become the home of thousands of hipster artists, musicians, poets and hangers-on, infiltrating the working-class immigrant neighborhood to create a new kind of melting pot culture. Perhaps...maybe...this is where the South End of New Bedford is drifting as well? This section of Rivet Street, with the increasingly popular Mexican restaurant and bar, Mi Antojo, a few blocks in one direction, and, in the other direction, the sorely missed Adega (soon to become the Fresca Grill), is morphing into some thing new and distinct for this City...hip. Mr. Draft's visit to the jukebox only confirmed the sense of imminent hipsterdom: is there another jukebar- outside of Williamsburg--- that has La Bamba, Tom Jones, and 10,000 Maniacs as options? It rates a 6.5...trying to be cool. Roll Call: Mr. Draft, Mr. Mix, Mr.3BOES, Mr. Elixir, Mr. Sazurac.
Although he may be loathe to admit it, it appears as though Mr. 3BOEs was somewhat ogling the barmaid at the Rose Alley Ale House on the night of the Barflies' visit. And with Mr. Mix alongside him as an impromptu wingman of happenstance, he may have even been "chatting her up," as the British say. And it is understandable, as Leeann was a very beautiful and gregarious redhead, and Mr. 3BOEs was fortified with a few in 'im already. But enough on 3B's vague flirtatiousness--- the Rose Alley Ale House is also beautiful and gregarious. Housed in a centuries old building, facing Route 18 and the State Pier, one door north of Cork, the Rose Alley is a brand new establishment, started by a trio of young entrepreneurs who have an obvious love for beer. Some time back, the building housed the infamous Cultivator Shoal, and local tales of it persist as a haven for drunkards, whores, brawlers, reprobates, smack dealers, knife wielders, thieves, con men and other riff-raff. But Mr. Draft cannot swear to the veracity of these claims...but folklore exists for a reason. (Bones found in the basement during renovations turned out to be of animal in nature.) In any case, the riff-raff are sparse in the Rose Alley...the crowd seem to be primarily collegiate or twenty-something, with a few old wankers like (some of) the Barflies thrown into the mix. The ale house is a two-story joint with an interesting quirk... light ales, IPAs, lagers, and a few other classifications served upstairs, while the downstairs bars offers "specialty beers". In truth, any beer can be ordered at the lower or the upper bar, and a member of the staff will retrieve it from either bar, but there does seem to a method to the madness. The beer selection is remarkably plentiful. Some of the downstairs offerings included Ommegang 3 Philosophers quadrupel brew, Victory Storm King (a Russian imperial stout), and Rogue Dead Guy malbock. Upstairs selections included Allagash Belgian White, Offshore IPA, Troeg's Hop Back Amber Ale, and a dozen others, as well the usual macrobrew suspects, Bud Light, Coors Light, and one inexpensive skunky favorite of Mr. Draft's- Moosehead, a steal for $2. Beyond the brews, the Rose Alley offers a concise menu of bar munchies, including about a dozen kinds of wings, served wet or dry--- that is, with sauce or a dry rub, including teriyaki and barbecue style, as well as the predictable- but excellently fiery buffalo version. There is a handsome sign above the door outside (and Mr. Draft knows a wee bit about signs), but the interior is a bit lacking in decor...and the right visual kick could add a sense of style, character and history. All in all, the Rose Alley Ale House is a welcome addition to New Bedford's ever evolving bar scene and it rates a well-deserved 9. Put some art on the walls...get a 10. And LeeAnn...Mr. 3BOEs lives just a few blocks up the hill...if you're interested. Pretty sure he is... Roll Call: Mr. Draft, Mr. Mix, Mr. 3BOEs, Mr. Elixir, Mr. Sazurac, Mr. Merlot
Located on Homer's Wharf, just south of the Bourne Counting House, sits the Waterfront Grille, an elegant and upscale addition to city's thriving bar-and-restaurant scene. That space, in a previous incarnation, had been the home of Louie's on the Wharf, a legendary New Bedford restaurant, that raised the bar for the local culinary community. Let it be said that the Waterfront Grille is a worthy successor. Overlooking the harbor and the docked fishing fleet, there is a lovely view that rises above the cliched and schmaltzy sentiment that a cynic like Mr. Draft might ordinarily assign to such a visage. It is beautiful and does, no doubt, attract visitors of the city, but the Waterfront Grille is no kitschy tourist trap. Small, white tubular lights hover over the bar, creating a tasteful atmosphere that is neither too cloyingly romantic nor unnaturally bright. On the night of the Barflies' visit on-tap brews were nothing spectacular or out of the mainstream- Miller Lite, a Sam Adams Seasonal offering, Blue Moon and Long Trail, and Mr. Draft opted for the lunatic choice. The pretty barmaid, Jennifer, proved to be an excellent barkeep. Several of Mr Draft's hungrier companions ordered food at the bar and greatly enjoyed their meals. And while Mr. Draft greatly enjoys the company of his compatriots in the Barflies-- for example, Messrs. Elixir, 3BOEs and Mix are somewhat of a Holy Trinity of entertaining geek conversation, Mr. Merlot and Mr. Sazurac are formidable thinkers as to local politics and art, and keen observers of cleavage; and one could get lost in Mr. Brew-haha's dreamy eyes--- Mr. Draft thinks he would most enjoy the Waterfront when he is out "on a date" with the beautiful Mrs. Draft. It bests functions--at least in the evening-- as a romantic spot. And it rates a 9...and if the draft selections improved ever so slightly, it might enter the exalted realm of the Tens. Roll Call: Mr. Draft. Mr. Mix, Mr. Elixir, Mr. 3BOES, Mr. Brew-haha, Mr. Sazurac, Mr. Lupilin
Just to the east side of Route 18, in a maritime industrial zone, about midway between Union Street and Cove Street, on a triangular wedge of asphalt sits the Royal Restaurant II. There is a Royal Restaurant I (sans the numeral) on North Front Street, just north of Sawyer Street which the Barflies have yet to visit. In the name of full disclosure, Mr. Draft will be the first to admit that he has dragged his children, hence known as Baby Girl Draft and Draft Junior, to pubs and taverns (that served good food) since they were infants-- hell, since they were in utero-- but still Mr. Draft didn't expect to see a couple or three kids sitting at the bar drinking Yoo-Hoo when the Barflies dropped into the Royal II. Mr. Draft quickly came to the perhaps erroneous, but likely conclusion that they were the children of the barmaid, Carla, and only in for a quick visit with Dad. Mr. Draft drank the least disagreeable draft choice- Narragansett (which has actually vastly improved since its' unexpected return) over the macrobrew regulars- Bud and Coors Light. Mr. Mix drank Carla's suggestion--- a Sex on the Beach variant called Sex in Florida. Carla seemed to be somewhat of an absentee barmaid, as she was often away from her post, but Mr. Draft believes she was working as hostess, and occasionally vanishing through a door behind the bar to seat patrons in the adjoining restaurant. The Royal II is frankly, nothing special--- again , with notice that the 'Flies did not eat there- it is too bright and too bland in environment to be particularly engaging. The menu was bilingual, and there was a spinner rack, displaying compact discs of fado and other Portuguese music, so one can credit the Royal II with playing to its' strength and embracing the customer base. Not a bad place, but nothing that makes the Barflies anxious for another visit. The Royal II gets a 5. Roll Call: Mr. Draft. Mr. Mix, Mr. Elixir, Mr. 3BOES, Mr. Lupilin, Mr. Brew-haha
Claudio's sits on Acushnet Avenue, south of Baiyles Square and north of Nash Road, and is distinguished, as one cruises by in the evening, by a sharp indigo neon sign. On the night of the Barflies' visit, there was a respectable gathering of customers, many watching a soccer game on the television, broadcast in Portuguese. The draft selection was predictable, and Mr. Draft opted for a bottle of something forgettable. The barmaid, an improbably buxom woman named Toni, was capable, gregarious, and flirtatious in the standard professional manner. All present ordered some bar grub, mostly sandwiches and French fries, which were quite satisfactory. Mr. Mix drank something too sweet for most human beings, and Mr. Merlot seemed to enjoy the fortified Portuguese wine he'd ordered. Claudio's has an extensive menu, and music on some nights. It is clean, friendly and generally "good," but there is little to separate it from the plentiful pack of popular Portuguese pubs populating the Ave. Except for that indigo neon and Toni's...well, Mr. Draft won't say. Claudio's ranks a respectable 6.5. Roll Call: Mr. Draft, Mr. Mix, Mr. Merlot, Mr. Sazurac, Mr. Elixir, Mr. 3BOEs
Upon entering the Club Sport Madeirense, the Barflies were hit with a wonderful waft of Portuguese cuisine emanating from a backroom kitchen and were struck by the liveliness of a happy, boisterous crowd. The clientele were diverse with respect to age, ethnicity, gender, and social strata, just the way the Barflies like it, even if jumps with a vibrancy reminiscent of the cantina scene from Star Wars (although Mr. Draft may have been influenced in this perception by Mr. 3BPOES dead-on vocal impression of the tinny, post-jazz music from that particular scene). The Club Sport Madeirense has been a staid fixture on the corner of Acushnet Avenue and Madeira Avenue for many years, and the Club is the primary sponsor of the annual Feast of the Blessed Sacrament (more familiarly known, simply, as "the Portuguese Feast," an event which is said to rival New Orleans' Mardi Gras for the amount of beer consumed). The Club is also responsible for sponsoring any number of youth sports activities, from soccer matches to Little Leagues, and annually awards scholarships to many local students. It stands as a shining example of the tavern as good neighbor, quite committed to the local community. The bar itself is a bit rundown, its' age showing, but it is comfortable, and the walls are lined with old black-and-white photographs that detail its' history and membership. Also on the wall was a sign warning that the Club is a drug-free zone. Much to the distress of Mr. Mix and Mr. Elixir, the Pac-Man machine was not working but some good Portuguese grub took their minds off that. The Barflies were offered a deck of cards at the table which they had occupied but most of the Barflies don't play games that don't include a video monitor. (Mr. Draft, Mr. Merlot, Mr. Sazurac, and Mr. Cork are excluded from that generalization.) One note that struck Mr. Draft: an elderly woman, who might be described in the unpolitically correct vernacular as a "bag lady," slept quietly by the door, unperturbed by the noise and seemingly as welcome to be there as any of the folk who were drinking cocktails or beer, playing pool on the blue felt table, or eating a linguica sandwich. That act of kindly indifference knocks this place up a rung. The Club Sport Madeirense rates a 7. Roll Call: Mr. Draft, Mr. Mix. Mr. Merlot, Mr. Sazurac, Mr. Elixir, Mr. 3BOES.