The Sinclair (Harvard Square)

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Hello Summer!

It’s taken long enough, but summer is finally here (in Boston, June can be hit or miss when it comes to “summer-like” weather). Despite the crazy thunderstorms (Thanks Hurricane Arthur) that we dealt with on the 3rd and 4th of July, the rest of this past weekend was gorgeous – tons of opportunities to seek outdoor patios in which to enjoy a summer meal.

I love sunshine, and eating outside is one of my favorite things to do in warm weather. In past summers, we would often visit the Monday Club in Harvard Square (the “downstairs” of Upstairs on the Square), one of our favorite outdoor dining spaces. Sadly, both Upstairs on the Square and the Monday Club closed at the end of 2013.
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This season, I have dined at a few outdoor spots in Harvard Square. We ate at the new(ish) patio at Rialto not too long ago, which was lovely, as well as the large outdoor patio at Legal Sea Foods in Harvard Square (a great place to get a nice bottle of wine for a ridiculously good price!).

More recently, I discovered a new, lovely rooftop patio right in the heart of Harvard Square.
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It’s at The Sinclair, a concert venue and a restaurant + bar that opened with the help of consulting chef Michael Schlow and then-executive chef Marcellus Coleman (winner of Chopped).
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Recently, Marcellus Coleman left and sous chef Matt Cunningham took over as the new Executive Chef. Chef Cunningham previously worked at Upstairs on the Square and Strip-T’s, and brings to the new menu his own globally inspired creative touches.
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I joined a small group of food writers a couple weeks ago to enjoy a special tasting menu that showcased some of Chef Cunningham’s creative talents. Many of these dishes are ideas that are percolating in his head that he is considering for the menu. Others incorporate items that are already on the menu. There is at least one course which he definitely plans to add to the menu very, very soon (if not already).

These dishes were paired with a number of cocktails from the regular bar menu.

In short, it was an excellent meal and I was very impressed with Chef Cunningham’s creativity. I do hope he continues to incorporates his fun and (sometimes) edgy ideas into the regular menu.

Here’s a look at the interesting dishes we tried!
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We started with a trio of “snacks” which were paired with a cocktail called Skylark, a drink that consists of Damrak gin, agave nectar, Becherovka, Dimmi, and lemon. The first “snack” was a Chicken Wing marinated in fermented soybean and served with cilantro. The flavors were intense, deep, and really rich. I loved these wings, and thought that it was a fun yet unusual and creative twist on a typical chicken wing.
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The next part of the trio was the Half Cooked Egg, a creamy-yolk egg served with a dash of Chef Cunningham’s own house-aged one year herb vinegar and topped with toasted oats. This was a delightful bite as well.

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Finally, we ended with a crostini made of soldier bread topped with a generous spread of marrow butter and house-pickled pepperoni, “bread and butter” style (like the pickles?). The pickled pepperoni was a bit sour (as you would expect) but worked well to offset the richness of the marrow. They came together well as a complete bite.

The Pickled Pepperoni is offered as a snack on the current menu for $4 (though possibly without the bread and bone marrow spread).

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The first course was a “salad” of Charred Romaine, which was served with pickled grapes, toasted hazelnut milk, and radish. I was surprised, but the hazelnut milk “dressing” really made the dish. I loved the flavors of the creamy milk and how it brought together all these raw, crunchy vegetables. The grapes added a hint of sweetness.

The pairing was also fun. We enjoyed this with the Hair and the Hound, a bright orange cocktail made with Brokers Gin, carrot syrup, Aperol, Luxardo Originale, and orange oil. _DSC7622.jpgThe second course was the Grilled Head-on Shrimp served with salted egg yolk, Bottarga, and Thai basil. Bottarga is a delicacy that consists of pressed, dried eggs from either tuna or gray mullet. It’s intensely flavorful, salty, and rich. Together with the salted egg yolk, it added a ton of flavor to the shrimp.

We enjoyed this with a cocktail called Greenhorn, which is made with Mezcal Vida, Sheep Dip blended Scotch, Benedictine, Cyanar, and bitter sumac._DSC7624.jpg

At this point the sun was just starting to set, and we had great views of the sunset while sitting outside on the balcony. _DSC7629.jpg
Our next course was a Sirloin Steak served alongside aged corn relish, charred kombu butter, and greens. Though I personally found the aged corn relish to be a bit too salty for my tastes, most people at the table loved it, pointing out the intense flavors that came from the aging. The steak was fine – cooked a nice medium rare and topped with the Asian-inspired charred kombu (seaweed) butter.

We enjoyed this final main course with a cocktail called Redhook, which is made with Old Overholt Rye, Punt E Mes, maraschino and a lemon twist.

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The Buttermilk Pudding, topped with Trident strawberry, smoked honey, and pretzel, was easily my favorite course of the entire meal. The flavors, especially the unique smoked honey, blew me away.
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The buttermilk pudding itself was creamy and divine. I love the contrast between the salty and crunchy pretzels, intensely smoked honey (so fragrant!), and freeze-dried strawberries.
I was thrilled to hear from the chef that this would soon be a regular offering on the menu.  I seriously still think about this dessert, and can’t wait to go back and try it again.
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The evening was over. After seven courses and five cocktails, I was stuffed.

As a funny twist, after the dinner I had planned to meet a couple friends for drinks in Harvard Square. One of my friends really wanted to sit outside because it was such a nice night. She also wanted creative cocktails and a nice environment in which to hang out.

After much brainstorming, we actually decided to come back to The Sinclair, (again!). It just seemed to fit my friend’s wishes perfectly.
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One friend had not eaten dinner yet, so she ordered the Southern Ramen ($15) off of the regular menu. A play on traditional Japanese ramen, this version incorporates brisket, Tasso ham, jalapeno sofrito, and buttered collard greens. 
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Both my friends gave it a big thumbs up. They told me the broth was rich, flavorful, and very satisfying. The meat was tender and the noodles had good texture. I was so full from the first dinner that, unfortunately, I had no room to even fit one bite (though it did look very tasty!).
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My friends also shared the Duck & Waffles ($11), which consists of a deep fried and breaded confit duck “ball”, a simple kale salad, and a buttermilk waffle. The duck was very moist and flavorful, and went well with the crispy syrup-filled waffle. It’s great for those who love sweet + salty dishes. My one friend, who consistently says she’s usually disappointed by duck dishes outside of Peking duck (she finds them all too dry), was pleasantly surprised at how juicy and flavorful this dish was.

It was really fun sitting out on the patio at night. We enjoyed a couple creative cocktails, munched on snacks, and chatted for a couple hours. There are tiny lights that make the ambiance warm and cozy. The service was excellent, and we had a great girls-night-out.

General Thoughts
I know that my (first) meal is not exactly reflective of the restaurant’s current offerings. Instead, it is more reflective of Executive Chef Matt Cunningham’s creative abilities. I am excited at what Chef Cunningham can and continues to do. I look forward in anticipation as he intro duces more and more of his creative, globally inspired dishes onto the menu.

He did hint that the Buttermilk Pudding (my favorite!) would be appearing on the menu “very soon.” He also indicated that many of these dishes would likely show up as specials here and there. Even if not, the food at the Sinclair as it stands is quite solid. Plus, it’s open late (1 AM!) for those late night hunger pangs. All in all, it’s great to have another patio option in Harvard Square with solid food and great ambiance.

The Sinclair 
52 Church St
Cambridge, MA 02138
The Sinclair on Urbanspoon

Disclaimer – The Sinclair paid for this meal. All opinions are my own.

©2009-2014 Tiny Urban Kitchen
All Rights Reserved

Comments

  1. Emily says

    Looks great, although it’s always a little sad to see a bunch of awesome food that’s not available for me personally to put in my mouth right now.

    For patios, I like the one at Orinoco a lot. No views, but it feels very tucked away.

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