It’s nice to see a restaurant grow, bit by bit, expanding as time passes and needs arise.
When owner-chef Brian Jenkins and his wife, Kerri, opened Sintra in 2003, it was a storefront space with 40-foot ceilings, a loft, and its “front’’ door around the back. In 2007, Jenkins took over some of the adjacent space from vacated deli and added a bar to his thriving restaurant.
Then, last spring, a second, small dining room was added, and, at the same time Sintra secured an all-alcohol liquor license, and voilà! — the restaurant became the fully fleshed out version of a dream.
The 92-seat eatery (which includes 24 seats in a cozy loft room used for private parties or dinner overflow) is pleasingly spare with muted colors, white tablecloths, wooden finishes, and a soaring space overhead. Every object (the utensils on the bread-cutting station, the dishware on the counter in the open kitchen, the stored cutlery) appears to have been chosen with precision and purpose to streamline service. Jenkins, who graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, cut his teeth working at places like Chicago’s Four Seasons, Boston’s Top of the Hub, and Mistral Bistro.
Sintra recently began serving lunch weekdays, and it’s attracting a healthy clientele from the nearby office parks.
The steamed P.E.I. mussels in a spicy tomato sauce ($12) we started with one snowy night last month were beautifully cooked. The medium-sized mollusks were tender and the sauce could have doubled as a spicy tomato soup I would have ordered solo. Great, too, were the shards of grilled, rustic bread that came with the dish.
The poached jumbo shrimp with lemon, horseradish, and cocktail sauce (sold singly for $2.50 each) were served with the chef’s characteristic attention to detail. The small lemon wedge was seedless, trimmed, and perfect, and the cocktail sauce came with a side dollop of horseradish — for those, like me, who always want more. The shrimp was outstanding, and so large that three would exceed the portion control standard for a single serving of protein.
The eggplant slices in the grilled eggplant napoleon ($10) were delicately thin and layered with mozzarella and the sweet zinginess of oven-roasted tomatoes. The little stack was covered with a salad of baby arugula dressed in a sweet balsamic emulsion. (One of us, who at first thought he didn’t like the dish, changed his mind and ate it all.)
A pretty, deep white bowl somehow retained the heat in the capellini with arugula, oven-dried tomato, shards of Parmesan, and garlic oil ($10 for a half portion/$19 for a full portion) down to the last forkful. The simple dish was deeply satisfying and good.
The broccolini that came with the baked haddock ($23) was outstanding. The stalks were caramelized, but not overdone, and flavored with garlic all over. The fish was lovely, too, with a thick crumb topping and a side of wonderful mashed potatoes. A stewed tomato added a contrasting bite to the mix.
For the crispy half duck with basmati rice, bok choy, and sweet soy glaze ($26), the duck skin had its fat rendered off, leaving a crispy salty counterpoint to the moist dark meat of the bird.
The bread pudding ($7) was mouth watering.
I’ve wanted to get back to Sintra for lunch — there’s so much more to Jenkins’s menu — but I keep getting snowed out.