Dinner at Henry's
Tuesday, April 6, 2010 at 8:19AM
The Lady Who Lunches in RIP: NYC restaurant cemetary, Restaurant reviews
*This restaurant has since closed

Henry's is the kind of local restaurant that we all wish we had in our own neighborhoods because, most likely, we do not.  You know what I'm talking about: familiar menu items that are much better than Mom's attempts (sorry Mom), a friendly staff that allows diners to linger over their meals and/or coffees, an interior space large enough to comfortably seat upwards of 100+ guests, and floor to ceiling windows that expose the colorful urban canvas of 105th Street and flood the restaurant with sunlight.  The atmosphere at Henry's all but forces guests to relax and enjoy a great meal/cocktail.

Henry's: interior spaceShelley, Dara, and I met at Henry's at 7pm in anticipation of the restaurant's special prix-fixe Seder dinner (*note that Henry's is not a kosher/Jewish restaurant - many restaurants in NYC offer Passover-friendly items on their menus*).  However, once we received the regular dinner service menus, each of us began to wonder, "Would I be a horrible Jew if I chose to order a burger/pork chops/tacos instead of the Seder meal?"  While Dara stayed on course, Shelley and I chose appetizers and entrees from Henry's everyday dinner list, in addition to a cold glass of homemade "guavade" (guava juice + fresh-squeezed lemonade).  Bursting with sweet and tangy notes, the fruit blend paired surprisingly well together.  The cloying taste of the thick guava juice proved to be the perfect balance to the tart lemonade.  

Henry's: guavade (guava juice + lemonade)My matzah-ball soup appetizer and Dara's beautifully-arranged, traditional Seder plate arrived simultaneously.  I was pleased by the shear portion size of the contents in my soup bowl.  The golden chicken broth was thicker, saltier and much more flavorful than most, with notes of garlic and dill.  Chopped root vegetables, including carrots and potatoes, clung to the bottom of the bowl while three fluffy golf-ball-sized matzah balls floated to the top.

Henry's: matzah-ball soupHenry's: Seder plate"You can take the girl out of the Texas border town, but you can't take the Texas border town out of the girl..."  Perhaps this could explain why I chose the taco plate for my entree - at a non-Mexican food restaurant - in NYC.  I'd be a liar if I said that I didn't question my sanity after the waitress took our orders.  However, once our meals arrived, I could not have been happier.  Of the three tacos on my plate, two were composed of tender flank steak and the third, grilled shrimp.  A trio of salsas, quartered lime wedges, and a fragrant salad made with chopped jicama, radish, tomato and cilantro served as accompaniments.  In terms of preference, I enjoyed the steak more than the shrimp.  The gristle-free meat was cooked to a perfect medium-rare and the fresh tortillas that enveloped the taco's ingredients were fresh and sturdy enough to grip the filling without so much as a tear.       

Henry's: taco plateWhile I veered away from ordering the traditional Passover Seder, looking back, I don't think I would have changed a thing about my meal at Henry's.  From the friendly and non-aggressive service we received, my delicious "guavade," the plentiful menu, and our wonderful meal, I would definitely return to Henry's if I found myself in the neighborhood.  While it's not an everyday destination restaurant (meaning that I would not make an extra-special trip here from downtown Manhattan/outer-boroughs), Henry's would be the perfect venue for large group gatherings, a book-club meeting, study group, etc.  There's something so refreshing to be said for a restaurant, in NYC, that allows diners to drink and dine at their own pace, however slow or fast that may be.

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