Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Chez Henri - French with a Cuban twist

Ages ago, Nick bought a Groupon for Chez Henri, but for some reason it took us a while to make a reservation.  With our dating anniversary occurring in June, we decided it was time to take a short walk to just outside of Porter Square to enjoy what we thought would be a classic French bistro, but turned out to be an inspired French-Cuban menu.  Walking in, the restaurant has a warm bar area and a dining room that, even with dark walls, is nice and light thanks to the sky lights.

Upon seating we went straight to the drink menu - we were celebrating, after all!  Nick chose the sangria, which was delicious and definitely not too sweet.  I had the Rhum Cocktail Marilene with an 8 year old Haitian rum, muddled lime and Angostura Bitters shaken on the rocks.  This was totally delicious and had a lovely flavor that made you feel a bit vacation-like with the sweetness of the rum.

While looking over the menu we enjoyed some hearty bread full of those lovely air pockets - at least I always think bread tastes better with those!

There were just too many good looking things on the menu, so we ordered a ton!  The first appetizer was the Wood Grilled Squid with a smoked tomato vinaigrette, arugula, paprika and chick peas.  The flavors in this appetizer were amazing.  I loved the smokiness of the squid that was tender and cooked to perfection.  The flavors were only highlighted by the accompaniments.  The textures of everything were surprising and made each bite fun and interesting.  I would not hesitate to order this again, it was sooooo good!

Wood Grilled Squid
We then ordered a soft shell crab salad appetizer special that has such an amazing effect on the plate.  Being New Englanders and all about lobster, soft shell crab sometimes seems like a foreign concept and can be a bit intimidating.  I never actually believed you ate the shell, but you really do!  Once you get over that aspect (which you will - you dont taste it) the flavors are sweet.  Soft shell crab is not something on many menus here in the Boston area, but it is definitely a must order in the talented hands of Chez Henri.

Soft Shell Crab
For dinner I went with the Criollo Bouillabaisse, which is a Latin spiced saffron fish stew with New England fresh shellfish and a chipotle-garlic rouille.  This was an amazing mixture of fish in a delicious broth that I could not get enough of (and managed to play with a bit!).  There were just so many types of fish to choose from - mussels, clams, calamari, shrimp, and crawfish!  So much fun to eat with a great broth that supported all the various types of fish.

Look at you under there...
Help!  I'm Drowning!
Nick had a grilled pork dish with a lovely rice medley that included some fresh fruit and roasted vegetables.  This is one of the items normally listed as part of the prix fixed menu, however, he was able to order it singularly (lucky him!).  The pork was cooked perfectly!  I often find pork to be overcooked when I order it out at a restaurant, but it was prepared perfectly here.

Grilled Pork
For my second drink, I went with our server's recommendation of the Ginger Cosmopolitan, which was a blend of Citron Vodka, Ginger Cognac, cranberry and lime.  A delicious drink to keep the fun meal moving along.

Ginger Cosmopolitan
As a nice transition from dinner to dessert we had a couple of foamy cappuccinos.

For dessert, which we could not resist, I had the Berry Creme Brûlée with a nice biscotti on the side.  Plenty of crust on this oblong bowl (my favorite!).  The berry was a nice accent - more just mixed in rather than really blended to be a part of the creme portion, but this worked for me.  I liked this addition to the traditional dessert.

Creme Brûlée
Nick had the bread pudding that was topped with some vanilla ice cream all in a cream sauce (as you can see we went with our go-to dessert choices).  There was nothing dry about this bread pudding, it was delicious and how bread pudding should taste.

Bread Pudding
We both really enjoyed our experience at Chez Henri.  The restaurant seems to attract a lot of repeat customers, which is understandable as once you taste the excellent food from the inspired menu, it really does draw you back.  All of the reviews I have read about Chez Henri talk about an incredible Cuban sandwich that is only available at the bar - looks like we'll have to make a return trip soon!

Chez Henri on Urbanspoon


  1. I've never been to Chez Henri, but everything looks so good!

  2. I just bought a groupon for here last week, and now I'm glad I did! I've heard amazing things about their Cuban sandwich. Now I also want to try that calamari dish!

  3. I live so close to Chez Henri but rarely make it there. Now I am craving for the Cuban!

  4. Wow what an amazing meal. I absolutely love soft shell crab and am drawn to it immediately when I spot it on a menu. It has been years since I have been to Chez Henri. I think it might be time for a visit.

  5. i want that boulliabaise and those have got to be two of my favorite app choices.

  6. I love that you got so many adventurous dishes. I also stick with the basics at Chez Henri: a mojito, empanadas and a Cuban sandwich to split. Clearly I need to branch out!

  7. I'm friendly with Paul, he's done demos at all of my markets, though I'm ashamed to admit I've never actually eaten at Chez Henri. The dishes he makes for the demos are always fabulous.

  8. I love when chefs do different things with squid, I'd love to try this one! And that pork dish would be right up Jon's alley! Great review!

  9. When I was growing up and before I was into food, my parents would occasionally mention Chez Henri. They loved food but were very fiscally-conscious and rarely dined out. Chez Henri was a once-a-year treat for them.

    This post has reminded me that I've never tried Chez Henri in the year-and-a-half that I've been into food. I must rectify that! And the soft-shell crab looks especially delicious.

  10. I was cracking up at your crawfish pictures and captions!


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