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Chez Henri, bar? dining room? recs?

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shellicopter Jul 28, 2009 01:52 PM

I know there are posts about this but I specifically am looking for recs. I just booked a table for my boyfriend's birthday on Thursday and am trying to decide if it would be better to go to the dining room or if its really worth it to sit at the bar and try the famous cubans. As long as the bar is nice and there are other good options (I was thinking the oysters sounded good as he loves oysters) I think we'd be okay with the bar. It's his 25th birthday so maybe we would fit in better with the crowd there? How do the two compare? Any things to not miss or avoid at either location? Thanks!

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    autopi Jul 28, 2009 02:07 PM

    i haven't eaten in the dining room in quite awhile, so can't venture a good comparison. that said, one of my favorite cambridge pastimes is bellying up to the bar for a periodista and cubano. in my opinion, the cubano really is that good.

    the bar can get crowded (it's quite small) and loud, so that might be worth keeping in mind. it's a bar, and it's in cambridge, so yeah the demographic is the Future Tweeds of America.

    1. capeanne Jul 28, 2009 02:46 PM

      We haven't been in the DR for ages either but if you sit in the bar you have your choice of bar or DR menu and there ( in addition to the cubano) is always something tempting on both..I am particularly fond of the fritters of the night There are 3 two-tops and 1 four-top in the bar but you need to get there early if you want table bar dining.

      1 Reply
      1. re: capeanne
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        autopi Jul 28, 2009 04:11 PM

        yes, good point--you can order off the regular menu at the bar if you're so inclined, but you can't order off the bar menu if you're in the dining room.

      2. lissy Jul 28, 2009 03:49 PM

        I've only ever sat in the bar area and the Cuban is tasty for sure!

        1. t
          the modern serf Jul 28, 2009 08:04 PM

          one of the first meals i had based on a chowhound rec. was at the bar at chez henri. we split a couple of the snacks - the "study in chiles" sticks out, if they're - plus drinks and dessert. the bill was quite a bit less than a bottle of wine and two dinners would have been.
          this was late december, so im guessing the pumpkin creme brulee is not part of the summer menu, but i still use that as the baseline of what a good creme brulee can be.

          1. z
            zach272 Jul 28, 2009 09:51 PM

            The bar is small, but there are still individual tables for two in there; I'd say the ambience is quite suitable for a birthday dinner - it's just cozier than the dining room. In my experience, the clientele doesn't differ too much between the bar and the dining room.

            Personally, I think it's worth sitting in the bar just so you have the option of ordering the thoroughly amazing cubano (as autopi pointed out, you can't get the bar menu in the dining room). but if you feel like having a bit more space/privacy, consider the dining room. either way, you'll do fine.

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              pollystyrene Jul 29, 2009 12:28 AM

              The bar is dark, cozy, and more rustic than chic. If I remember, they have little x-mas lights up in the bar area, so it's festive in that sense. I've never eaten in the dining room because it looks like a downscale hotel dining room to me; very different from the bar. Since you'll be there on a Thursday, you shouldn't have to wait long for a table. The last time I was there on a Saturday at about 9:00, we only waited about 10 minutes, and the time flew because of the delicious Periodista I had while waiting.

              1. C. Hamster Jul 29, 2009 07:46 AM

                One more vote for the bar.

                1. franksnbeans Jul 29, 2009 08:11 AM

                  Bar is fun, drinks cold, Cubano delicious. As someone else noted, you can order off the dining room menu at the bar as well. Also, was there a week or two ago, and had a great prix-fixe on a Monday night. Don't know how often it changes, but this was a $39 deal that included (I think -- the details got a bit fuzzy after the martini) an app, a (deconstructed -- claws and tail) lobster dinner w/chorizo, corn, etc., and then a dessert. All good stuff; good value.

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                    shellicopter Jul 29, 2009 08:25 AM

                    Thanks for all the advice, it looks like we'll most likely be hitting up the bar, sounds perfect...any thoughts on the veggie cubano while we're at it? I'll try to report back!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: shellicopter
                      yumyum Jul 29, 2009 10:10 AM

                      I like the bar too, and while I've never had it, I've heard the veggie cubano is very worthy of your time and tastebuds. I like the empanadas and the duck tamales too. Have fun!

                    2. s
                      shellicopter Nov 18, 2010 09:50 AM

                      I'm off to Chez Henri tonight and realized I never wrote back about my last experience there...clearly good since I'm going back! Thanks for all the recs, we did sit at the bar, meaning at a table in the bar room, and were treated to incredible service. I ordered a delicious mojito and we shared oysters, ceviche, and the delectable meaty greasy cubano...perfect though a few more pickles would have been nice to cut the grease! In addition I had attempted to reserve on open table (though you can't actually reserve for the bar) and wrote a note about it being a birthday...without saying anything the server came out with a delicious cheesecake with fresh berry compote and a candle...complimentary of course...it was really special and a really nice experience overall. I'm excited to go back tonight, taking my mom this time, and looking for any other great dishes to try if anyone has ideas. Thanks!

                      -----
                      Chez Henri
                      1 Shepard Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: shellicopter
                        j
                        jet lagged Nov 18, 2010 10:17 AM

                        The main dining room is expensive and not much better if at all then mediocre (dry chicken, fatty (not in a good way) steak, too much salt- but the bar is excellent.......

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                        CookieLee Nov 19, 2010 03:55 AM

                        I think it's pretty telling that when I posted for recs about the dining room, NOT ONE PERSON responded. I had to eat in the dr, I was w. a large party, and I was v. disappointed in the food and the service. Eat at the bar.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: CookieLee
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                          Gabatta Nov 19, 2010 05:05 AM

                          The one time we ate in the dining room, the service and food were fine. I just think it's silly that they won't serve the cuban in the dining room.

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