Thursday, June 25, 2015

Craft Cocktail Meets Chinese Food at Sichuan Garden II and The Baldwin Bar

I drove out in the snow to Woburn to check out Sichuan Garden II. And it was worth it.

Sichuan Garden II is no normal Sichuan restaurant, located inside a 17th century mansion. There's a wonderful little cocktail bar in the restaurant. The Baldwin Bar is headed by Ran Duan, whose family owns the Sichuan Garden restaurants. He went all out with The Baldwin Bar, not minding that it was out in Woburn, with top notch cocktails and gorgeous pre-prohibition style interior. Where else can you get Sichuan food along with impeccable craft cocktails? I can't think of another place.

To convince you that the cocktails here are worth a drive, know that Ran Duan has won the title of Most Imaginative Bartender at the 2014 USBG competition sponsored by Bombay Sapphire.
The cocktail menu at Baldwin changes all the time, but I've always found great drinks like I Put a Spell on You (Bombay Sapphire, Earl Grey, yogurt, lemon, orange blossom water, $10)
That night also happened to be Fire Puncher Day, so there were special drinks made with GrandTen Distilling's Fire Puncher Vodka.

What about the food? You can either dine in one of the mansion's rooms, now outfitted as dining rooms for Sichuan Garden II, or dine at The Baldwin Bar part of the restaurant. Either way, you can get the full menu. The most popular item is probably the Chengdu Dry Hot Chicken Wings ($11.50)
These chicken wings are really crispy and have a nice kick to it. I must've gotten better at my spicy tolerance because I kept eating these. The double battered, extra crispy wings were covered in a spicy dry rub of garlic, ginger, and chilis but there's also a small amount of glaze (maple sriracha sauce)
Double Cooked Fish Filets, leeks, garlic, ginger, black bean paste ($16.95)
Sichuan Garden II
This was another great dish, so flavorful and perfect with rice.

Our table also enjoyed the House special eggplant (caramelized eggplant, glazed with house garlic sauce, scallions, minced chicken - $12.95)

I would skip the xiao long baos. They're nothing special, definitely not Sichuan Garden's best offerings.
On my first time there, we went from dinner to some drinks at the bar itself. The cocktail menu is pretty small, with about 10 cocktails + 4 different mai tais, but you can just tell them what kind of flavors you like and they can whip up something special.

They're great at both tiki-style drinks and more aromatic, stirred drinks.

On my drive back from Montreal, we passed by Woburn so I made an immediate turn towards Sichuan Garden II. We had a "miss" in Montreal ordering pina coladas the night before, so the three of us ended up asking the bartender on duty for some pineapple cocktails. Three different pineapple drinks, I'm sure he was frustrated, but he sure did a great job.
Sichuan Garden II

Tiki drinks, paired with Dan Dan Noodles with Minced Pork Chili Vinaigrette ($5.95)
Sichuan Garden II

Some amaro shots to end the night. Any night I spend at Sichuan Garden II and The Baldwin Bar is a good night!
Sichuan Garden II

It's worth having a car in Boston just so I can go to Woburn when I want.

Sichuan Garden II
2 Alfred St
Woburn, MA 01801
(781) 935-8488
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Peter Sward

It snowed on June 25?


Most bloggers don't go out to eat and go home immediately to blog about that same meal the same day! And it's only 9:30 am on June 25, I don't think the restaurant is even open yet! This post is about 2 different meals, neither of which took place in June :p and it only snowed on my first visit.

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