My first visit to Henrietta's Table.
What would you recommend to try or avoid from their current menu?
I've read some random reviews online that seems to indicate tendency to over salt and oil?
I've been to the Salts in Cambridge and the Ten Tables in JP, how does Henrietta's compare?
One Bennett St., Cambridge, MA 02138
5 Craigie Circle, Cambridge, MA 02138
I tend to think of Henrietta's as high end utility: a place to go with older relatives or when location is the deciding factor. It's quite good in that capacity, and I'm not bashing it at all, but I don't think it withstands comparison to the other places you mention, which are more in he stratum of Rialto, Henrietta's big sibling.
I never understood why this place is relatively unpopular on CH. I actually think it's one of the best options around for explicitly New England-y food, as well as one of the best places in Harvard Square in its price range. I've had a few dinners there and enjoyed everything I had, as did my companions. Don't recall over seasoning etc. Love the pot roast- how many restaurants in Cambridge serve pot roast? I appreciate that they're doing good versions of frumpy stuff like that with high quality ingredients.
one thing that they do really well is breakfast, it's probably my favorite non-diner breakfast in the area, especially the corned beef hash. I haven't had their weekend mega-brunch but a reliable source tells me it's quite amazing, and worth the high price.
I've never made it to salts or ten tables (tried to go to tt multiple times and couldn't get res, and was turned off by the attitudes of the people I spoke to on phone), but I think Henrietta's is much more casual and with less elaborate food.
I haven't been to HT for dinner, but I agree that they do a really nice breakfast. The hash browns are fabulous, the multigrain pancakes with berries, biscuits, really smoky bacon and ham are really good, and I also like the red flannel hash. The cranberry walnut and the anadama toast are also top notch. Coffee refills can be a bit spotty, but service seems to have been a little more consistent the past couple of times we've been.
I think it is unpopular on Chowhound because it is not very good.
The menus is a kind of faux New England --- old recipes that are themselves not very good to start with, but gussied up with fancy proteins, destroying any redeeming value of traditional nostalgia, while not transcending the lackluster recipes to start with. Combine that with high prices, a nearly insufferable air of pretense about the "local-ness" of the ingredients, a general lack of consistency and poor service (punctuated by the occasionally excellent server) and you might begin to see why many Chowhounders don't like.
However, I do make a special exception for their breakfast. It is less over-priced than any other meal there; the hash browns and corned beef hash are truly excellent, the Flax Snax (flaxseed muffin) is to die for, the grapefruit juice is freshly squeezed, the coffee freshly brewed and the jams on the table pair well with the bread. I've been less impressed with their hotcakes and waffles, but I look forward to their breakfast despite the surly service.
How they can turn out such a terrible brunch while producing such a wonderful breakfast is beyond me.
However, I would recommend avoiding everything on their "supper" menu and instead go there for breakfast. Save dinner for places like Salts and Ten Tables, which are excellent!
5 Craigie Circle, Cambridge, MA 02138
"The menus is a kind of faux New England --- old recipes that are themselves not very good to start with, but gussied up with fancy proteins, destroying any redeeming value of traditional nostalgia, while not transcending the lackluster recipes to start with. Combine that with high prices, a nearly insufferable air of pretense about the 'local-ness' of the ingredients, a general lack of consistency and poor service (punctuated by the occasionally excellent server) and you might begin to see why many Chowhounders don't like."
I'd call the service average -- I've been there a number of occasions and only once had a poor server.
I'm not sure what you find insufferable about local ingredients. Some people are into that for environmental reasons -- it's not more or less pretentious than restaurants who advertise their "organic" offerings. I found the local source idea mentioned on the menu and perhaps hinted at by a server a few times, but I'd hardly call that "pretentious" -- it's useful information for people who want to eat local (usually for ethical reasons), much as a "vegetarian" or "vegan" option appears on many menus these days.
And I have no idea what you mean by "fancy proteins" -- I've had a pretty awesome pork chop, but I would hardly call that "fancy." It's not like they replaced the pork by wild boar or something. Everything is pretty standard protein here -- beef pot roast, roasted chicken, lamb shank, etc. The most exotic meat is duck breast, which is hardly exotic.
The recipes aren't out of this world, but they're pretty good simple variations on standard New England-y fair. If you're into that sort of thing, it's good -- if you like the exotic, this is not the place for you. It's a little expensive for this type of cuisine, but I've never had a dish that was really disappointing (as I've had at restaurants that have similar food that's cheaper).
In fact, the "Yard Sale" that happens on off-nights for dinner is a reasonably good deal, depending on what you order. Appetizer, entree, side dish, and dessert for about $30.
"How they can turn out such a terrible brunch while producing such a wonderful breakfast is beyond me."
Here I have to agree with you, though. The dinners aren't bad, if slightly pricey, but the brunch is hugely overrated. There's a huge variety of food, but almost everything is mediocre. If I'm paying close to $50 for brunch, I'd rather have a few things done well than a huge spread of mediocre food. Here there were a few good things, but some of it was truly awful. About the only redeeming feature was the dessert bar, where you basically can sample most of the normal dinner desserts, many of which aren't bad -- but I don't go to brunch only for dessert.
When my friends and I dined there, over seasoning was definitely not a problem. While I thought my meal was quite good, my DCs actually thought a few items were under-seasoned on their plates. Very simple preparation of foods, but great if you like a natural 'clean' taste to dishes. Works well with locally sourced foods IMO. This place had a simple roasted beets side dish that turned me on to beets.
What I was disappointed in was their drinks. I don't drink alcohol and tried one of their sesaonal cocktails without it. I was hoping for Craigie style mocktail magic and that just didn't happen. They may be great, boozed up, but I know this wasn't meant to be how they are served. Ah well.
I've had dinner there twice after reading positive reviews and been disappointed both times. The sell the "farm-to-table" image very hard, but the cooking just seems uninspired. It feels like they know the location and upscale-rustic vibe will keep the business coming in so they don't put much effort into the food. The menu reads great, but tastes like they're just trying to churn out inoffensive product - there's no love or care going into the food, and even the ingredients don't seem all that top-quality. The food is perfectly fine but definitely doesn't justify the price point.