Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Sinclair, Harvard Square, Cambridge

Last Thursday night Jason had scored tickets to see The Greyboy Allstars at Cambridge's newest concert venue- The Sinclair.  The Sinclair opened earlier this year as both a concert venue as well as a pretty hip place to eat.  I missed the media dinners they hosted, but the reviews were all great- inventive dishes, fresh ingredients- it was on my list.  Now I had never heard of The Greyboy Allstars before, and this was my first opportunity to check out The Sinclair- so I was pretty pumped for an evening of newness. 

We scored a 7 pm reservation, but somehow despite a pretty sparse group in the restaurant, we were asked to wait a few minutes before sitting.  Seemed strange-esp when we were finally led to the upstairs dining room and it was basically deserted.  No matter though- we were pretty cheerful and I was sipping an incredibly tasty drink from their bar downstairs so it didn't faze me.  We were seated in a cozy corner with a view of the room, and started reviewing the menu.

I had perused the offering the night before (shocking I know ;-) ) and had found a few dishes from their small plate menu that I was excited to try.  I settled on their artichoke salad, and their steak tartare for my dinner, Jason chose the burger and we couldn't resist adding the Mac and Cheese to the order as well.  We requested for everything to come out at once though just to avoid any awkwardness with his entree and my small plates.  Despite the request though, dishes came out staggered which left me a little perplexed.  

The Artichoke Salad came out first- a heaping mound of greens, watercress mainly, sat atop a few small grilled artichokes, sprinkled with fried onions and tossed in a lemony vinaigrette.  The greens were nice and fresh, and definitely had the bitter vibe which was nice, however when paired with a pretty acidic dressing, it made for a bit abrasive flavor.  The artichokes, which it took some digging to find were lovely- well cooked, their clean flavor slightly enhanced with a bit of smoke from the grill.  The onions were a nice touch, though somewhere along the way they had lost their crispness so they were more limp and a tad greasy than the lovely pop of texture and flavor that I could see they were intended for.

Next up was the Mac and Cheese.  An oblong ramekin was sat on our table with a browned crumble of bread crumbs scattered across the top.  It looked delicious.  However, a spear of the fork into the pasta found disappointment.  The pasta itself was a bit over cooked leading to more limpness and a bit of mush, it was also, for all intents and purposes, naked.  It had a certain cheese flavor to it, but the only other indicator was a milky liquid at the bottom of the dish.  I had two bites to make sure it really wasn't good and abandoned it.  A sad representation of a decadent dish that wasn't worth the calories.

Next to arrive was the Steak Tartare.  A large circle of lovely raw beef sat on the plate, adorned with whole grain mustard and some greens with crisp toast to the side and a smear of a truffle aioli.  I piled a toast high with the tartare and just a bit of the mustard.  Immediately I noted a strange texture as I spread it seemed incredibly chunky.  As I bit in, and had difficulty separating my bite, I found that I was right.  The grind of the beef was incredibly large and made it difficult to eat.  Instead of a silky beef, I felt a bit like I was gnawing on it, which made it slightly unappetizing.  The flavor of the beef was very good, texture aside.  A hint of salt, some pepper, a whisper of fresh herbs gave the beef a starring role with simple enhancers.  I eyed the dish sadly as its texture was off putting, but was able to plow through it as I knew a long night was a head and sustenance was needed.

Jason ordered correctly- his burger was spot on.  Cooked to a medium rare perfection, topped with a basil aioli that added a wonderful fresh brightness and smeared with a flavorful special sauce- this burger was addictive.  I got to steal a couple of bites and found myself continuously wishing I had ordered that instead of any of the other dishes.  

I was truly disappointed by The Sinclair Kitchen. I wanted so badly to enjoy everything on their menu, but found misses at almost every turn.  Their vision seems spot on- the food ideas are fresh, the ingredients seemed like they were of good quality, it just seemed to fail in execution.  However, I will say - as a concert venue- I loved it.  The staff was incredibly friendly, the space was really well set up, they had multiple bars to attend to the crowds, clean facilities- I would return here every week for shows.  Now I just need to educate myself better in the music the cool kids are listening to these days ;-)

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