The Sinclair – Cambridge, Massachusetts

First Taste: Duet Right

Photo credit: Dan Watkins

Photo credit: Dan Watkins

Over the past two years, promotion company Bowery Presents has branched out from its New York and Philly bases to bring us acts like the Kills and Dr. Dog. Now they’re taking on both Cambridge’s music and restaurant scenes under a single roof. The Sinclair is opening in Harvard Square—for shows on Nov. 14 and for dining in early December. It’s doing so sans gimmicks, shtick or rocker memorabilia.

“For us it’s really important to establish roots in the neighborhood,” says Josh Bhatti, who heads the Bowery’s Boston office and booking. “We finally feel like after two years we’re going to be able to deliver that full-concert experience that’s made us so successful in New York.”

The restaurant at the Sinclair has a separate entrance and will be open daily for lunch, dinner and late-night snacks, with brunch on the way. With two floors—including a 52-seat second-level patio—it features reclaimed wood, banquettes and intimate nooks with huge booths. The walls aspire for Americana without crossing into kitsch, displaying old radios and 45s among other mid-century trappings.

Bowery has never mixed food and music before, but the team and consulting chef Michael Schlow (Radius, Happy’s, et al.) are positioning the restaurant to stand on its own. “The food has to have merit,” says Schlow. “The whole idea of marketing ‘farm to table’—every chef wants to cook that way, and we’re no different.”

Schlow and chef Marcellus Coleman, formerly of New York’s Alias and Aureole, have built a diverse menu that emphasizes small plates and sharing. Coleman’s take on the ever-trendy pork belly—here pastramied and presented slider-style—and “disco fries” (served crisp with ground chorizo, roasted poblanos and house-made cheese sauce) are seemingly designed as concrete foundations for a night on the town. Veggie-heavy dishes include a roasted golden beet salad with honey and thyme topped with a ricotta salata, and shaved Brussels sprouts with smoked bacon, quinoa and grapefruit zest.

Bhatti says the Sinclair will stock the booze-ual suspects (e.g. Pabst, Narragansett and other hipster favorites), as well as craft choices and a cocktail menu developed by West Side Lounge’s Dave Werthman. It all aspires to a delicious and dynamic combination. “There’s lots of great music in Boston, and there’s lots of great restaurants,” says Schlow. “But the idea of bringing these two together, it’s going to be a nice, happy marriage.”

The Sinclair 52 Church St., Cambridge (617-451-7700)

This article originally appeared in the November 14, 2012, issue of The Improper Bostonian.