When I was asked to review Henry’s Cafe Bar recently I wasn’t sure what to expect. I have only eaten lunch there once but it was a long time ago but I am a regular when it comes to their wonderful cocktails.
We chose to go on a Friday so that we could experience it on a busy day but we also went early so that it wasn’t so busy that the staff were rushed off their feet. We actually unwittingly picked the time that lots of diners were enjoying a pre-theatre dinner so it was really busy when we arrived but we found a free table and despite the crowds, we were served immediately by a friendly waiter. The menu looked very promising. It was much more refined than we thought it would be and we became very enthusiastic about what was to come.
At 7.15, people started to leave but they left behind many tables full of dirty dishes and glasses. Half an hour later, the tableware was cleared away but there were still crumbs and unlaid tables and a washing up bowl left on one of the tables. I can understand that everyone left together which meant there was lots of work to do in a short time but I would have thought that this would have been anticipated as it happens whenever there is something on at the theatre and that more staff would have been on hand to help.
Nevertheless, the friendly efficient waiter continued to serve and promptly took our orders. Unfortunately, our top two starters were not available so I chose Avocado with Crispy Pancetta and Spinach. Mr V chose the Shallot Tarte Tatin but that wasn’t available either so the waiter offered him a beetroot (rather than shallot) option instead which he politely accepted.
The starters arrived promptly. Mr V’s tarte tatin was beautifully presented but it wasn’t cooked properly. In fact the pastry was raw and he couldn’t eat it.
My avocado with crispy pancetta and spinach was better but the ‘crispy’ pancetta was actually lardons and they were anything but crispy and the dish was quite oily and greasy.
We ordered another cocktail and hoped the mains would be better. Mr V chose Spatchcocked Poussin with Garlic, Thyme & Lemon and I chose the Chicken & Prawn Jambalaya. My Jambalaya was nice. It had a healthy kick to it and it was packed full of meat making it a fair price at £11.95.
Mr V’s main wasn’t quite as described. It was supposed to come with potatoes but the waiter explained it would be served with puy lentils instead. It arrived with puy lentils in a broth with over boiled celery and carrots. The Poussin was very well cooked and fell off the bone which was good but it meant that little pieces of cartilage and bone got lost in the broth making it unpleasant and unnerving to eat.
Feeling disappointed, we moved onto dessert. I soon cheered up when I noticed a Blueberry Cream and Mint Tart but unfortunately, they had run out of that one so I settled for an Apple and Blackberry Crumble and Mr V had a Chocolate Brownie.
Mr V’s brownie was ok but it was a little dry.
My crumble looked nice but it tasted very average and came with a jug of tepid custard that didn’t know whether it was supposed to be hot or cold.
Verdict: All in all, the food was disappointing on this occasion. It’s a real shame because for drinks Henry’s is a real favourite of mine. I used to frequent it as a student for cocktails many years ago and now it is a favourite for after work drinks or on a night out. It’s the kind of place where there is a combination of people wearing suits, jeans or even fancy dress and everyone feels at ease, there is no discrimination.
I like the decor and the staff are always friendly. Our waiter on this visit was excellent but the food just didn’t hit the mark. Henry’s call themselves a Cafe Bar but I’m not sure that this fits with what they are offering. It seems to me that they are trying to do too much and as a result they are serving confit of duck with a bottle of ketchup which just doesn’t work.
For drinks, this is a great choice but with so many other options for dinner, I will be going elsewhere in future.
My Last Mouthful: Chicken & Prawn Jambalaya
We were invited to Henry’s as guests so our meals were complimentary