On a recent cold, blustery night, a group of friends and I braved the elements to trek into Greenpoint. Our destination was Sindicato de Cocineros, an expansive, airy space lined with dark wood. The cocktails are interesting. But for vegetarians, the Mexican food leaves something to be desired.
Just as I judge the potential of a Mediterranean restaurant on the quality of its baba ghanoush, I consider Guacamole the litmus test of Mexican fare. Sindicato's ($9) was a straightforward version: creamy and well-seasoned, with plenty of lime to balance out the richness of the avocados, but other than that had not much to recommend it, with very little textural contrast or any interesting touches at all, and a meager portion for its nearly ten dollar price tag.
Similarly, an order of Mushroom Tacos ($11 for three tacos) was completely serviceable but also totally forgettable. Three soft corn tortillas came filled with smoky, chewy button mushrooms and a scattering of onions and cilantro; they tasted fine, but again lacked any imaginative use of ingredients such as cheese or avocado that could have brought a lot more texture and interest to the dish. To the restaurant's benefit, it does serve three flavorful, well made house salsas on the side—tangy pineapple, creamy avocado and fiery chipotle—but even liberal applications of those weren't enough to save this dish from its own mediocrity.
Happily, Sindicato does serve one meat-free dish that I would go back for: a Tamal de Chile Poblano ($12), a not-too-heavy, not-too-light steamed bundle of masa harina dough stuffed with rich, nicely seasoned roasted mushrooms and fresh corn kernels that provided an occasional pop of sweetness. A tangy crema on the side brought some welcome acidity to the dish, and a sprinkling of herbal sprouts added freshness.
If you're not too picky about your Mexican food and enjoy a thoughtful cocktail, I'd recommend Sindicato de Cocineros, particularly for its daily happy hour. But if you're looking for authentic preparations and ingredients, skip this one and head to Sunset Park or Bushwick instead.
Sindicato de Cocineros 57 Nassau Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11222 347-422-0727 http://sindicatobrooklyn.com/