On a weekday evening, the new Addams Tavern in Westfield was crammed. People were being turned away, advised that reservations are a good idea. Those waiting at the bar for a table were settling in for awhile.
The Addams, named for Westfield’s own Charles Addams, the cartoonist who created The Addams Family, is far from creepy: Under a soaring ceiling, a fireplace crackles, brick and stone walls create a country feel, wood-burning grills and mesquite ovens add sultry hints of smoke, and murals engage the eye.
Addams is the latest addition to the successful and sustainability-minded Harvest Restaurant Group (11 strong under the stewardship of the Grabowski family, including Trap Rock, Huntley Taverne, Urban Table and Roots). Harvest knows how to design crowd-pleasing places to eat and imbibe.
We were riveted by the menu, with its sections for a variety of small plates, a “carvery” that translates as dressy sandwiches, flatbreads, bowls and large plates that fall under the jurisdiction of entrées. The wine list is smart, with selections ranging from mainstream to boutique, and the cocktail list intrigues.
The wait staff, however, at this early stage showed a tendency to be overbearing, interrupting conversations and injecting unrequested opinions about what to order. The experienced ownership has taken pains to amass a spirited crew; now they just need to teach them tact and the art of being watchful without hovering.
The plates, on the other hand, needed a bit more spirit. The arugula, avocado and roasted carrot salad would have benefited from an orange-lime vinaigrette that was more about citrus and less about oil. Slow-roasted pork shoulder was dry and lacked an accenting flavor. Still, the carrot slaw and onion jam layered on the focaccia gave the concept promise.
Fried chicken fried rice could have been a show-stopper had the red pepper jam not been inexplicably sweet, the chicken overcooked, the batter too thick.
On the plus side, flatbread smeared with creamy brie topped with a swirl of pear compote and drizzle of honey created a charming set of companionable flavors.
The kitchen showed its potential with the fish taco of the day: Swordfish, nicely charred on the wood-fired grill, interior juicy, mated well with a citrusy cabbage slaw and pico de gallo in a soft taco shell.
I’d re-tool the lemon olive oil tart, lightening up the oil that dulled the flavor and switching from the rosemary accent in the pastry to something that better plays off the lemon.
The setting, the concept, and the wide-ranging beverage program provide Addams Tavern a solid foundation. The veterans who guide the organization have a track record of fixing flaws and building long-lived winners.
Addams Tavern, 115 Elm Street, Westfield. 908-232-3201. addamstavern.com. Open daily for lunch and dinner, and for brunch on weekends.Click here to leave a comment