With exterior walls in a shade of subdued salmon, the Candleworks sits at the bottom of Elm Street very close to Route 18, and it fills a much-needed niche in the downtown New Bedford bar-and-restaurant scene. Around for nearly thirty years, this sweet old dame of a bar has gone through several changes of ownership and a menu that has wavered in quality over that time. But, damn, it's hard not to like her. Located in a building that dates way back, the Candleworks has a deserved reputation as an elegant and quixotic spot, for dinner or to sip a drink or two. Unlike another downtown spot of similar vintage- who shall remain unnamed- this place bespeaks of timelessness without tiredness, tradition without perdition, and old-school quality without old-school sentimentality. On the evening of the visit of the Barflies, the bar was tended by a friendly and good spirited bar matron named Jenny, and another younger barmaid, name unknown...both good at their job. The draft selection was more than adequate. Mr. Draft drank a a Stella Artois from a very tall pilsner glass, while Mr. Martini had Anis Escarachado (a Portuguese anise flavored liquor) on ice. Mr. Sazurac, recently relocated from New Orleans, was very vocal about how impressed he was with the interior architecture of the place. It is beautiful, with huge crossbeams supporting the ceiling above, and the textured ancient stone walls. Connected to the main dining room is a glass-enclosed deck, festooned with tiny white lights, the perfect place for a romantic interlude. As the Barflies were about to leave, a band- Distinction- was setting up, and Jennie mentioned that there was always music on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights. That may be a reason for a return if it needed another one. Candleworks rates a 10. (Roll Call: Mr. Draft, Mr. Cork, Mr. Sazurac. Mr. Martini)

1 comment:

Dan said...

The 10 rating is well deserved in most respects, but I was surprised and disappointed that Ms Jenny had no idea what Pastis was, or Absinthe for that matter. A well stocked bar should at least have one bottle of Ricard or Pernot in the house and the bar staff should know something about this fine anis flavored European drink.
Absinthe is all the rage across the country at the moment as it is making a triumphant return after years of confusion and politics kept it banned. Romanticized in the paintings of VanGough and Picasso among others, it's hallucinogenic qualities were fictionalized and exaggerated over the years, even being blamed for Van Gough's dementia. It's return to American bars as both a cocktail ingredient and as a unique and refreshing drink is long over due. Lucid was the first brand to make it back and has garnered much hype and publicity as a result, but many others of even better quality are in the process of obtaining the federal approvals needed. One to definitely look for is La Muse Ver (the Green Muse) . I have been to the distillery where this rich and tasty herbal spirit was first made just outside of Bordeaux, France and I have tasted none better. cheers!