I recently had the good fortune to attend brunch at The Sinclair with the Boston Brunchers. This group of local bloggers is invited to different local restaurants. It’s a great opportunity to meet like-minded local foodies and try new restaurants. A double-whammy opportunity.
We arrived on a beautiful Sunday. Harvard Square was bustling with the activity of the annual MayFair. The Sinclair was a cool respite from the activity outside. We had to wait quite some time for our table – but it was well worth the wait – they were preparing their deck space for us as the weather was unexpectedly beautiful.
Their deck was completely unexpected after being inside the bar. It was insulated and well protected from all the activity outside. Like the interior, it was filled with beautiful furniture and well-thought-out decor. I was pleased and completely at ease in the environment. The decor had the right balance of elegance and edginess. It was attractive and unique without being distracting or uncomfortable.
Our waiter was lovely – he really took care of us and was genuinely interested in learning about our group and our blogs. The chef also took great care of us – course after course was brought out, each paired with one of their special cocktails.
The meal started out with a trio of mimosas. The pear was my favorite – light and refreshing. This was paired with a Misty Point Oyster with pink peppercorn and cucumber seasonings on a bed of sea salt. I love an oyster and this one was delicious.
The oyster was followed by house-cured gravlox (salmon) with pickled red onions, jalapeño slices and a garnish of dill and capers. Like an elegant version of lox, the salmon was perfectly tender, thick and flavorful. I only wish there was more of it – or maybe a cracker or toast to accompany it.
The gravlox was followed by a bloody mary and a soup course. I had a pureed saffron fennel soup as my dairy-free substitution This was almost too pretty to eat – the bright orange color was gorgeous. I had no problem finishing it once I tasted it though. The flavors were light and unusual – the fennel was subtle and balanced by the saffron and other flavors. It wasn’t overpowering and was quite delicate. I lapped up every last drop.
The bloody mary was so spicy that I could only handle a few sips. It was beautifully served with homemade pickles and pork belly garnish. If you like a spicy mary, you’d probably enjoy this. It wasn’t for me, though.
Next up – calamari. I love seafood and fish and this meal really showcased a lot of ocean specialities. Again, they modified my dish to be dairy-free. Everyone else had fried calamari and I was served grilled calamari. I actually prefer calamari grilled, so this was a good surprise. It was topped with celery leaves and served with the same Tom Yun Gai dipping sauce and plating style as the fried version. They grilled it perfectly and the squid was tender, not rubbery. You could tell it was extremely fresh and prepared with care. If this isn’t on their regular menu, it should be. I’d go back and order it again. I hadn’t enjoyed grilled calamari like that since living in Astoria, Queens.
Finally, we enjoyed the Tiger Lily, a grapefruit and tequila cocktail and our final dish – root vegetable ragu with duck confit. I was a bit skeptical by the description, but once I saw the dish it didn’t seem as odd. There were roasted cubed root veggies including red and yellow beets, carrots, and potatoes. The vegetables were delicious bite-sized morsels. This was topped by shredded cooked duck. I don’t usually eat duck but the pairing of the meat with the veggies was lovely and the meat wasn’t as fatty as duck can often be. Maybe because it was shredded it was more appealing than a full duck breast or one of the usual duck preparations. This was a heavier dish and a nice end to the meal. The rich flavor of the duck was balanced by the varied deep flavor of the vegetables. On the regular menu it’s served with a poached egg. I would come back to try this as I imagine the poached egg makes this dish even better.
The Sinclair was very accommodating and provided everyone with a delicious meal in a great setting. I had called ahead to let them know of my dietary restriction with dairy. It seemed like the hostess hadn’t had this request before, but she was sure the chef would be able to accomodate and just made note of this. The chef did indeed come through. Two of the dishes were modified to be dairy-free. Everything was served at the same time as the other dishes without any fuss or additional delay. I felt extremely well taken care of and satisfied with everything they brought. I even think I lucked out with better dishes! If you were dining at The Sinclair with a large group, I would call ahead to apprise them of any dietary restrictions. This will help the kitchen be prepared for you and ensure that you have plenty of options to enjoy. If you go on an impromptu evening, they could readily accomodate you as well, although you might have fewer options. Several of the dishes were already dairy-free and needed no change, so the waiter would be able to guide your selection. Another one of the brunchers, Gluten Free Boston Girl, also had dietary restrictions. Although she did not call ahead, they were able to appropriately modify her meal and she was able to enjoy everything as well.
A little unexpectedly, we did have to wait a long time between each course. I’m guessing it was because of the size of our group and the last minute switch to an outside table on this sunny day. We arrived around 1:00 and didn’t finish until around 3:30, to give you a sense of the length of this meal. I was with great company, so it was thoroughly enjoyable. Usually I expect brunch to be around an hour and a half – this was nearing three hours. I would go back to The Sinclair for Sunday brunch or to try their dinner food when I have time for a leisurely meal, but I wouldn’t stop by if I was in a rush. This is a perfect spot for a casual group or a romantic meal when you want to linger and enjoy your time together. The outside deck would be great for an evening cocktail on a summer evening.
*I received a complementary brunch in exchange for writing an honest review of my experience.