Each time I set foot in Henry’s Place, I feel transported to a haven where life is good. I get a chance to dress up and feel thoroughly taken care of, which I believe is exactly the feeling a restaurant should evoke in a diner.
Their 2nd American Brigade Wine Dinner this evening, which paired 6 courses with selections from the portfolio of Majestic Fine Wines, began with airy, scrumptious garlic bread and a gorgonzola wine sauce with which I may or may not have an unhealthy obsession. Fantastic start.
The 1st course, a roasted lamb saddle St. Nicholas with an heirloom tomato tart, gorgonzola, and natural jus, was spectacular. With just enough fat to add flavor, the tender lamb was perfectly cooked and rolled gently around a combination of carrot, bell pepper, spinach, and onion. The soft, fluffy tart was caramelized beautifully and had a soul-satisfying little bit of pastry at its base that reminded me of the bottom of a pot pie, which is arguably the best part. Served with a pinot noir (Windracer Anderson Valley, 2007) that had a lovely bitterness and a clean finish, the lamb brought out a distinct sweetness in the wine. Said my dinner date, “This might be the best thing I’ve ever had. If it’s not the best, it’s close.” I would gladly order this as my main course. And would growl at anyone who tried to steal a bite. Our waiter swooped in just in time to prevent me from literally licking the plate.
The 2nd course, a Brentwood corn consommé, was unexpectedly light, yet warming and hearty. The perfectly clear broth was bright, citrusy, and nicely salted. Lurking at the bottom of the small bowl for several moments before popping to the surface was a coin of chicken mousseline, the outer layer laced with corn and the inner circle colored bright green with spinach. It held its shape in the broth, but fell apart in the mouth. On the side, a salty Jerez cheese straw corkscrew was crisp and chewy. It struck a simply perfect balance with the broth. The chardonnay (Arrowood Sonoma, 2009) was sweet and very crisp on its own, but the broth brought out a lovely tartness that I much appreciated.
The 3rd course, a Persian lime sorbet with summer melon, sangria, lychee, and chocolate mint was certainly interesting. I expected bold flavor, but was met with something quirky and subtle. Loved the chocolate mint finish, and it definitely cleansed my palate.
The 4th course (Roasted Peking Duck Ballotine with Summer Pole Beans, Beech Mushrooms, Caramelized Spaghetti Squash, and Pommes Boulangeres with Rainier Cherry Duck Demi-Glace), if I really have to choose, was my favorite because it was easily the best duck I have ever had. In fact, this duck is why people eat duck. My page of notes for this course had PERFECT scrawled six times. From the seasoning to the balance of flavors that simultaneously ricocheted off of every part of my palate, it was truly immaculate. Juicy, tender, succulent, and drenched in a rich, sweet, cherry-studded demi-glace that imparted a lovely roundness to the dish, the duck was delectable. The two red wines (Stonestreet Fifth Ridge Red 2006 and Farrier Presshouse Meritage 2008) were thick and very dry, with undertones of oak and earthy fruits. Both complemented the course very well.
The 5th course, a St. Michael oysters salad, was sleek and modern. I loved the actual salad, which was nicely seasoned and consisted of heirloom tomato, fresh beet microgreens, and bean sprouts. My only criticism? (I gotta have ONE, right?!) The blue corn meal/buttermilk-coated and fried oysters on the salad were unnecessary and heavy. They had nice flavor and were creamy and properly cooked, but they overpowered the vegetables. After several protein-heavy courses, I think I just wanted something light and refreshing. A couple diners with whom I spoke loved the oysters, so I suppose my criticism is merely a matter of preference. Overall, it was a delicious plate of food. The sparkling Solletico Prosecco with which it was served smelled sweet, yet tasted dry. It was bright, crisp, and bubbly.
Now, let’s discuss dessert, please, because my reaction to it was, “I don’t want it to end.” Chef Reed clearly has a passion for whimsical desserts that wow diners, and this “Banana Moon Pie” was easily one of my favorite treats ever. With a fantastic variation of textures, there was something new to be discovered in each bite. It arrived at the table so enticingly fragrant that I could nearly taste it before I had even closed my lips around a single spoonful. Chewy dark chocolate enrobed two layers of an airy chocolate mousse that hugged just-ripened banana and a crumbly shortbread pastry base. Resting in a pool of smooth white chocolate sauce, it was a perfect symphony of bitter and sweet. The Riesling (Arrowood Late Harvest, 2007) was a golden and extremely sweet wine. Much like a thick apple cider, with distinct notes of orange, peach, and honey, it was brightened and elevated by the dessert. Just lovely.
Intricate handmade chocolates were brought to the table to finish. They were rich and dark, a perfect semi-sweet, with tender raisins nestled inside.
The meals were well-timed and well-portioned. Also, I appreciate that certain standout items from the menu are integrated into these special wine dinners. Quite a smart hook to ensure repeat customers.
The food is kinda the point of a restaurant, right? If the meals do not shine, do not leave impressions upon the tongues and minds of the diners, even an establishment with the most attentive service and the finest decor is nothing. Henry’s Place gets this. They understand what a dining experience should be, that the heartbeat of a good restaurant is what comes out of the kitchen, and they showcase their outstanding food while providing immaculate service in an atmosphere that simultaneously manages to evoke both comfort and excitement. Why? Because that’s what fine dining is.
Executive Chef Charles Reed truly is a master. Food is his life, and my favorite thing about being a guest at Henry’s Place is that you can taste that in each bite.
Do yourself a favor - put on your best and forget your troubles for an evening at Henry’s Place. Whether for a special occasion or an average Tuesday night, Chef Reed’s cuisine is a gift that one should unwrap and savor at least once. And if he adds tonight’s duck dish to the restaurant menu, at least once a week.
4864 Brownsboro Center
Open for dinner Monday through Saturday from 5 PM to Close
Chef Reed, checks the menu.