The Sinclair is now open for concerts, and soon the new Harvard Square venue's restaurant will open too. Very soon. Like next week. Eater spoke with chef Michael Schlow of Radius, Happy's Bar + Kitchen and more, who has served as the consulting chef for the restaurant at The Sinclair (which is also called The Sinclair). Schlow discussed his inspiration for the menu, the relationship between the performance space and eatery, and his thoughts on The Sinclair's regular chef, Marcellus Coleman.
So when will the restaurant at The Sinclair officially open? It's days away but I wouldn't say that I can pinpoint the day. With any opening that we do, we allow the staff to tell us based on their knowledge and their readiness. We're doing friends and family and those sort of procedures right now, and as soon as we get through with that I'll know when. It will be sometime later next week, that you can say for sure.
And at that point would people who aren't seeing shows be able to come in for dinner? Absolutely. The whole idea of this restaurant is that it's an independent restaurant that will be open seven days a week. Once we're going full force it will be lunch and dinner and we'll have brunch on Sundays. There's 200 shows a year that they're planning on booking, and those are days that people should just be very careful to make sure they make a reservation, because we'll hopefully be very busy with show goers also. Once the doors open, it's kind of like going to a ball game. I have a feeling we'll have a big exodus going to the show and then hopefully another round of people coming in from the neighborhood.
Can you tell us about your inspiration for the menu? I'm working with Marcellus Coleman, he's the chef here, and I'm the consulting chef. He's a very talented guy and I've known him a long time. He's worked at Aureole, Abe and Arthur's and Alias in New York, and here in Boston he worked at Clio and No. 9 Park when he was younger. It's been a pleasure to watch him grow up and mature in the restaurant business. He's just very, very talented, a very creative cook and very versatile.
The genesis for the restaurant and for the menu really came from the owners of The Bowery Presents, the owners of The Sinclair. What they wanted was a nice addition to their music venue. This is their first time being in the restaurant business and so they gave us a list of some of their favorite places around the country and places that they've just been that they were influenced by, so some of it is influenced by New York, some by California, some by New Orleans. They've really travelled and because of their musical ties they've seen a lot and I think the most important aspect that they gave me as the driving force of the menu is that the place is approachable.
I remember you said that music was part of the design process when you did Tico. This time around, was the restaurant directly influenced by the fact that this is also a music venue? Well certainly the design had to take it into account because you have live bands playing and you want this place to still feel independent when the show goes on, so the owners took great strides in making sure that the acoustics were excellent in the venue: a lot of soundproofing. And then the design of the restaurant as well, so that we are part of it and yet still separate.
Any menu items that you're excited about? I'm excited about it all. I've been here cooking with these guys every day. We were here on Christmas Eve until about six o'clock, and then we finally went home. For me, when I look at the menu, I'm a little jealous. They've got so many dishes that he's created, and we've all worked hard together, but there's so many good things on there. If you want to have a bunch of small plates and just go to the concert, that's absolutely an option. But his entrees too are really, really delicious. He has this great slow-cooked steak that I just love, where he's using bavette, which is seared and cooked beautifully. He's got these delicious fried oysters as one of the first courses with a spicy remoulade, some of the best deviled eggs I've ever. A lot of it is recognizable and approachable but done in a very fresh, very delicious, well-executed manner. I'm really excited to see him cook here.
Have you consulted for other restaurants before? I have. I don't do it a lot, but I've consulted with a few other restaurants before. Right now - it's not open yet - but I'm working on a project for Dartmouth college in Hanover, New Hampshire a the Hanover Inn. They're building a signature restaurant there in the inn and the college hired me to help create that. So I don't do a lot of projects like that, but I enjoy it. It's a little different, to be completely honest, than owning your own place where everything starts and finishes with you, but when you're consulting, your name is still attached, so you have to make sure that you're giving them all the same time, recipes and guidance that you would if it was your own restaurant.
Have you seen any shows yet at The Sinclair? I was there on opening night when Concrete Blond came in, and we were scattering to get ready, so I've only seen glimpses, but there are a lot of shows that are coming up that are really great. It's not a gigantic venue, it holds about 525 people, and all the sightlines are really great. And there's three bars inside the venue - it's a really cool place. The reason I did this, to be a hundred percent honest, is I was really impressed. I had known people from Bowery Presents from their New York and Philadelphia venues, and I was really impressed with the type of shows they put on but also the type of hospitality they showed the concert goer.
Often I think it's "ah, it's a ticket" - they got your money, they sort of herd you. It was a different experience with them, and I spoke with some of my friends in the music business about that, and they all had the same thing to say. Having those kind of references from artists who go and play there, saying that these guys were great guys and they really took care of them on the road, that made a difference to me. Plus music is a huge hobby of mine, so it was sort of a natural to say yes.
And other projects in the works for you? You know, we're always looking at what's next for our company, wanting to stay nimble and current. We've got a lot on our plate right now, so for right now we're just working on getting The Sinclair open and focusing on all of our restaurants for 2013, and just working on that. And if something comes and it's good I wouldn't say we're done by any stretch. We'll keep building restaurants.