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May 18, 2012 11:07 AM

5/16/12 Chez Henri: A Talented Chef is Still Talented

We have been fans of Paul O’Connell since he first began with the impressive Providence( in Brookline) those many years ago. When he closed it and opened Chez Henri at a lower price point, we followed him there. We liked it alot. And after Paul visited Cuba, we liked the new dance card- modern bistro French with Latin . But in recent years, the menu hasn’t drawn us back. Enter CH and a scathing review, service- directed iirc. Then a Groupon opp. I checked out the menu , saw frogs legs and bouillabaisse, and clicked on one coupon.

So this was our early dinner before Justin Townes Earle at the Somv.Thtre on Wednesday. While we were on the lookout for someone of that name, we did not have the- server- from -hell. While her upbeat voice and smiles felt far from authentic, she was far from hell, and she did a fine job of checking on us. The room was still very comfortable and attractive, and it was a lovely Spring day for the front sidewalk window wall to be open.

Paul was off-site this evening, but the food was consistently delicious. While we have always found the Chez Henri soups to be uniquely wow-worthy, we both began with a generous salad with pomegranate dressing , bleu de Basque, and curry spiced pecans . I love frogs legs and never ever see them on menus, so i ordered an entree portion of them with some crispy full flavored kabocha squash polenta wedges on the side. Once I asked for chipotle aioli for the polenta and more garlic lemon creme for the (grossly undersalted but cooked perfectly) frogs legs, I was a very happy camper. My Love declared his bouillabaisse (he orders it everywhere) “ much better than all the others"... “so much going on with the many different seafoods and the vegetables AND the broth". They have always had good reds by the glass, so that worked out well. Btw, they also continue to have their daily 3 course prix fixe (2 menus to choose from) which , in the past, always offered its own comparably alluring dishes. We saw a number of other tempting choices on the just-large-enough menu, so we look forward to returning. And since Gargoyles is no more, it looks like Chez Henri will be our new go-to for pre-show dinners.

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  1. Great Review! We ate there a few weeks ago with a giltcity voucher, service was great and food was even better. I had the bouillabaisse myself and loved it. Full of fish (about 6 or 7 different types) and the broth is good as well. The fish was almost never ending in that pot. Loved the cuban inspiration seen throughout our meal. My fiance had steak frites which was also excellent - very good steak, cooked perfectly. We bought a recent groupon and will be going back soon.

    1. We have never been disappointed at Chez. Service is always fine. Food is always fantastic. Paul is a good friend, and whether he is in the house or not, we are always fed well. No complaints or episodes of bad food or service here.

      1. I enjoyed our post lecture dinner at the bar this past winter. Cubano didn't live up to the hyper but was still tasty. I bought another groupon to use there.

        I just don't get why they don't serve bar menu in dining room or at least add the cubano to that menu. Even sitting in the bar side we had to ask for the bar menu since they only gave us the dinner. Since the bar side was packed and only one table occupied on the dining, I was surprised by the number of people who walked out after being told that they could only order off bar menu at the bar. Just seemed odd.

        4 Replies
        1. re: viperlush

          The answer to your question is $. I think groupon's exclude the bar menu. Even with a groupon they are bringing in more $ from diners in the dining room than diners in the bar.

          1. re: AaronInBoston

            Nope, the groupon only excluded alcohol. And they had no way of knowing if the groups planed to use groupon. Exactly, it comes down to $. I would think that on a cold mid week evening they would rather have occupied tables instead of a basically empty dining room.

            1. re: viperlush

              Correct -- used Groupons more than once in the bar. Especially since drinks are excluded by MA, I don't think it's necessarily true that they would make more money on people in the dining room than the bar. It just depends what and how much people are drinking.

          2. re: viperlush

            we don't want to bore you with restaurant logistics... but there is a method to our madness! however, we do serve the bar menu in the dining every night after 9:30pm and you can always call ahead to be put on the wait list for bar!

          3. thank you so much for the wonderful review!