Cinch Grill –
I never realized that Cinch was where it was until my meal at Gyoza King last week. I parked right in front of the place and walked across the street to Gyoza King without even noticing the place. It was not until after the meal when I was trying to chase down my son on the sidewalk so that I could coax him back into the car that I looked up and noticed the place. At that instant, I witnessed people entering and exiting the restaurant, and I saw that both the interior and exterior dining areas were more or less fully occupied.
‘Interesting’, I thought to myself. The food must not be half bad if there were so many people there. I made a mental note to try the restaurant.
Normally, mental notes to try restaurants are filed away deep in my brain’s memory. I usually don’t recall them until I have run out of ideas or until I feel adventurous enough to try out a random restaurant.
I wasn’t feeling particularly adventurous yesterday and there were still numerous restaurants on my list that I have much more desire to try, but I opted to try out Cinch anyways because, well, I don’t exactly know why…I just thought that I should try it out.
My wife, son, and I were only the second table in the restaurant and they seated us at a tiny wooden square-shaped table that usually accommodates two diners (at most). I really would’ve preferred the extra space that came with a four top, but I am totally not complaining because the rather-tight interior of the restaurant had limited seating. Also, I’m not selfish enough to greedily demand an adult-sized dining space for my four-year-old son.
Within the confines of our cozy little dining space, we ordered four dishes in total. We started with the calamari.
Although the portion size of our order of calamari was not as large as those served up by most other restaurants offering this dish, it was more than enough to satisfy the three of us. Every single piece of calamari was fully enveloped in breading, and the breading was fried to a nice golden crispiness. I thought that the underlying squid rings and tentacles were a little tougher and drier than other versions, but overall I thought that the dish was enjoyable. My wife told me that the calamari had textures and flavours similar to the calamari served at salt crispy chicken street stalls in Taiwan, which she happens to enjoy the heck out of. I concurred with her on the flavour of the calamari. It felt like they borrowed the salt-pepper-msg mix from a salt crispy chicken serving bubble tea place and sprinkled it on the calamari.
After the appetizer came our main lunch dishes. My wife ordered the capellini pescatore.
This pasta dish usually comes with a white wine-olive oil-garlic sauce, but my wife requested that they add some red chilies to the dish to spice up the flavours. Even though the amount of red chilies was nowhere near enough to satisfy my wife, she said that she really liked the flavours of the pasta. Each component of the sauce (other than the chili) was just strong enough to enhance the flavours of the prawns, scallops, and mussels. The juices of the various seafood components also gave back to the sauce. The sauce in turn fully coated each strand of the thin capellini, which was itself nicely cooked to an al dente texture. My wife thought that her pasta dish was well-executed from the top to the bottom, and from the inside to the outside. The only thing she found deficient with the dish was the freshness of the mussels. They had a brininess that was not exactly confidence-inspiring.
My pasta dish was made with minced meat and suffered from none of the freshness-second-guessing of my wife’s seafood pasta. I had the spaghetti bolognese.
I wasn’t expecting a lot from the pasta dishes at this restaurant, and that was the reason behind me ordering such a simple, classic, and cliche pasta dish. I thought that it was the dish that had the least likelihood of being screwed up. After having my first bite, I realized that I was wrong. I didn’t feel I was wrong because they screwed up the dish, I felt I was wrong by not expecting too much from the dish. The dish was tasty, and it was different. It was not as bold, tangy, and meaty as most of the bolognese sauces served elsewhere. It was mild, subtly acidic, sweet, un-salty, and smooth. The minced meat was as enjoyable as a stewed ragout when residing in the light bolognese. I will normally shake the hell out of a salt shaker to release a hurricane of salt crystals onto a dish if I don’t detect an ample amount of saltiness in it. But I didn’t do it with my pasta today. I totally dug the sweetness and forgot about the lack of saltiness. I also dug the almost al dente textures of the pasta which matched well with the subtler sauce. I didn’t mind that each strand of the pasta wasn’t exactly firm and bitey in the middle because it somehow made the pasta feel lighter than a perfectly-cooked al dente pasta. I know a lot of you would scoff at the weak and seemingly inauthentic sauce. I personally liked it, and I would not hesitate to order the dish again if I revisit the restaurant.
We ordered the hamburger sans buns for my son.
Yes, your eyes do not deceive you. The burger did come with supermarket pre-frozen fries. I’ll just say that my son liked them, so couldn’t have been that bad. I ate part of the patty and found its flavors to also be quite generic. I thought that the best part of the dish were the textural contrasts between the firm patty, the bouncy and squeaky mushrooms, and the lean, super-crispy prosciutto-like thin strips of bacon.
Pasta is probably the first image that comes to the minds of most people when they think of an Italian restaurant. Based on that criterion, Cinch provided my wife and I with tasty and enjoyable main dishes for our lunch. The calamari we got was also not that bad. The burger was the only dish we ordered that needed some work, but it was also the lone non-Italian dish we ordered. It was probably included on the menu for the sake of non-Italian-cuisine-diners like my son. Thus, my advice to you would be to order the Italian dishes at the restaurant and steer clear of the non-Italian ones.