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Jan 25, 2009 05:06 PM

Chez Henri

Has anyone been to Chez Henri lately? I was wondering whether their food is still excellent after all these years. thanks for you input in advance.

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  1. Went Saturday night (1/24) and had a lovely dinner. The service was attentive and enthusiastic on a busy weekend night and what we ordered was grand.
    -tempted by the ceviche of octopus, shrimp and mahi-mahi but on a cold night I wanted good soup
    -Salsify & Celery Root Bisque -- quietly elegant
    -tostones (disks of mashed and fried plantains -- fun!)
    -a cassoulet of white beans, sausage, braised lamb and duck confit -- marvelous one-dish comfort food
    -a prix fixe dinner of pan-roasted (I think) sardines with
    -pork loin(?)
    -banana tart (a MARVEL)
    -chocolate bread pudding -- showy & large with chocolate and caramel sauce I could have bathed in it was so good

    1. Went last weekend to the bar - Off the bar menu, we had a soup - I think it was the salsify bisque - quite excellent and warming in the cold - a salad with bacon that was well executed and shared a Cubano that remains a top 5 sandwich in Boston.

      1. I think Chez Henri confuses a lot of people in that it falls in that weird DMZ between "great upscale neighborhood restaurant" and "full-on dining destination".

        I've been going to Chez Henri for ten years, and at this point, in terms of overall quality for this type of cuisine, I'd argue its dining room has been surpassed by a number of contemporaries in the area (certainly Craigie and Salts, arguably the Blue Room, Rendezvous, EVOO). I also have trouble with the near-$30 entree prices at this "bistro", so I just can't call it good value.

        Having said that, I love the vibe, the food is always tasty and sometimes stellar, and I never fail to leave in the best of moods.

        As Bob Dobalina alluded, the bar menu is utterly outstanding, easily my favorite in the city, and a phenomenal value. As far as I'm concerned, I can't think of too many better dinners anywhere in town than splitting a dozen oysters, a spinach salad with duck tamale, a pressed Cuban sandwich or two, and a few mojitos or periodistas. The only drawback is that the bar is tiny, so getting a table frequently borders on more trouble than it's worth. If I were Paul O'Connell, I'd seriously consider either closing the dining room and expanding the bar/bar menu, or opening up a second branch that only did the bar/bar menu. Since I'm not Paul O'Connell, I guess I'll have to just keep going at off hours.

        1 Reply
        1. re: finlero

          I live within a few blocks of Chez Henri and have eaten there on something like a bi-weekly basis for years. I can truly say it has gotten better recently. I think there's a newish chef who has reenergized the menu, and the old standards remain classics. Plus the pacing has improved. There were times in the past when the lag between app and main course was irksome. That does not seem to be a problem anymore.

          I had the duck tonight.. You gotta love a dish where the sauce is so delicious it forces you to finish all your kale. They've been offering the duck for several seasons now, with a varying series of fruit-based sauces; right now it's cranberry. People next to us were having the cassoulet, and it looked scrumptious. I tried their cassoulet years ago and found it heavy, stolid, and monolithic. This cassoulet looked lighter and smelled so inviting.
          Yes, Chez Henri is still good; I'd say it's better than ever,

        2. The original comment has been removed
          1. I would posit the obviouis, atleast to me, position that Chez Henri expand their minisciscule, but wonderful, bar and and amp up their bar food offerings. I don't know of many Hounds that actually avail themselves of their "finer dining" options, do you?


            1 Reply
            1. re: Harp00n

              I was there for the first time last night, and couldn't agree more: the bar area is where it's at. Radiohead, The Shins, two of the best cocktails I've ever had (75 Rue Germain and Periodista), a veggie cubano, an actual cubano, chocolate bread pudding, a banana cream tart, a dark and cozy atmosphere, and efficient, unobtrusive service. And on a Saturday night at 9:00, we only had to wait 10 minutes for a table, which seemed like nothing while sipping our delicious cocktails and enjoying the vibe. I wasn't prepared for the bartending to be so good; better than Green Street and and far better than Eastern Standard, although the cocktail list isn't extensive.

              I had a gander at the half-full dining room and wondered why they don't just knock the wall down between it and the bar. It looked like an inexpensive hotel dining room, and I was glad to be on the other side.