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.
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.
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).
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.
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!
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.
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.
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).
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.
The 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.
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.
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.
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.
52 Church St
Cambridge, MA 02138
Disclaimer - The Sinclair paid for this meal. All opinions are my own.
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