This is the second in a series profiling local chefs and sharing their favorite summer recipes.
Scutra serves the kind of sophisticated food one might be surprised to find outside of a large city, but owner/chef Didier Baugniet and his wife and partner Cesidia Baugniet have been offering their European-style cuisine in Arlington Center for eight years this July.
As a family run business, things have not always been easy, Cesidia Baugniet said. The couple's two children, now 12 and 13 spent many late nights at the restaurant. "They have been here since they were little," said Baugniet. "There were many nights they were sleeping in the restaurant in the corners."
Those days have passed, said Baugniet who feels fortunate to have children who are adventurous eaters. "They will try anything," Baugniet said.
As for Baugniet, she describes her tastes as simple. Born in Italy, she grew up on homecooked food – and plenty of it.
"I am a very simple person to feed, pretty bland, pretty plain, I will try just about everything," she said.
Baugniet is Belgian and his dishes reflect much of the food he grew up around. Some current menu items include honey chamomile glazed salmon filet, marinated turkey tenderloin and appetizers like baked brie bites with fig marmalade wrapped in phyllo on rosemary apple salad.
In addition to the menu, the restaurant itself has changed over the years, expanding from a 36-foot space to almost twice the size. Eighteen months ago, they added a full bar, which has done a lot for business, Baugniet said.
"We still have to turn people away, but it is not as bad as it was when we were smaller," she said.
In addition to business issues, it can also be a challenge to work so directly with someone who is also one's spouse, Baugniet said. "You are by each other's side day and night and if you are angry at night, you are still angry."
Still, being such a family business has its perks, she said. "Every person who comes and works for us for a while becomes like family."
The restaurant does special events like showers and weddings in addition to their regular operating hours, something Baugniet, who has a long history in catering and business enjoys.
Baugniet, who currently lives in Waltham, said Arlington has been an interesting place to have a business. "The town has come a long way," she said.
Here is one of the Baugniet's favorite menu items:
Metal Mussel Plate
Cook Mussels by steaming or boiling until open
Open mussels and disregard half the shell lay the mussel on other half shell and lay in
grooves of metal plate.
Cut an inch off (Garlic Butter log)* of garlic butter and lay on top of mussel
Bake at 400 degrees until the butter is melted, maybe 3-5 minutes
1 Pound of Salted butter softened
1/2 cup of minced garlic
Mix together and form into a log
Keep refrigerated or it can be frozen.
Scutra is located at 92 Summer St. and is open Tuesday-Thursday 5:30-9 p.m.; Fridays 5:30-9:30 p.m. and Saturdays, 5-9:30 p.m.