April 11, 2013 by LJK
Well, now, that was more of a hiatus than I’d anticipated. So! Henry’s on South.
This little place is now open only for dinners after 5, Tuesday through Saturday, as apparently it wasn’t getting enough business at breakfast and lunch (I overheard the winter’s poor weather being blamed). That’s a shame, because their baked breakfast treats were lovely, but as we finally can confirm Henry’s on South is well worth checking out in the evening.
The kiddo and I enjoyed a perfectly delightful meal tonight in the cozy, candlelit space as the skies sent gentle, fine April hail down out in the parking lot. We were greeted at the door immediately, and the service was never confused or awkward, but totally efficient and professional and pleasant. Whatever systemic kinks there may have been in the early days seem to have been smoothed out, perhaps as a result of scaling back to dinner service only. We were there on the early side, and the tables started to fill as we ate; the waiter and owner never seemed rushed or panicky, parties were seated promptly, food was coming and plates being taken away at a reasonable pace.
Our server told us that the entree portions were on the small side and that we might want to supplement with an appetizer, and this seemed like a genuine concern for our well-being, managing expectations rather than attempting to upsell. So we started out with the Italian nosh plate, with could easily have done as an entire meal for one person: generous slices of two kinds of Italian cheese, cantaloupe slices, a fist-sized tangle of thin prosciutto slices, shelled pistachios, two little cubes of an herbed foccacia, and olive oil and vinegar for dipping. The cheeses were piave and pecorino, I think, but they were so similiar in character (semifirm, mild, nutty) they kind of got lost in each other and it would probably be better to feature cheeses that were a bit more different from each other. Otherwise all was fresh and easy to like.
My daughter had the lemon fettucine in a “very cheesy” (her words) lemon cream sauce with capers. Two thin slices of salty, glistening hot-smoked salmon, and a handful of perfectly sautéed strips of super-sweet red pepper were set on top. She happens to be a huge lox fan (she’s her dad’s daughter) and she was wary of the hot-smoked salmon here until I insisted she try it; after her first nibble, all but the chewy outer edge of the flaky and surprisingly moist salmon slices was gone. It was a rich dish, and I think just fine for a chilly not-at-all-springlike night.
I had the April special, a halved sweet yellow pepper stuffed with a fine, mildly spiced loose sausage mixture, with pan-crisped (in butter, probably) Hungarian nokedli, which are basically spaetzle. The nokedli were lightly coated with an incredibly smooth and silky tomato and paprika–based sauce, and everything on the plate came together quite nicely: the sweetness of the tomato, the dusky paprika, the salty sausage stuffing, and the tang of the small dollop of sour cream atop it.
The wine list is interesting, with lots of choices by the glass, and the servers graciously offer tastes in case you’re not sure what you want. I didn’t really know what to expect from the Hungarian dish, so I had the wine that was recommended, a Welschriesling, presumably from Hungary (where it seems that variety is called Olaszrizling). I’d never had a Welschriesling before, but it wasn’t strange at all! Not too dry to pair with the sweet-ish sauce in the dish, it was nevertheless light and fresh. It reminded me a lot of some of the easygoing white wines I bought a great deal of in grocery stores in the Trentino in Italy many years ago, not knowing what the heck they were, just that they were cheap and good with food, and it’s possible that those could have been from the same grape.
According to the restaurant’s Facebook page, the owner is opening up a companion bottle shop and lounge (a what?) around the corner on South Street. And apparently there are plans for patio seating at some point. So while shutting down breakfast and lunch service is a discouraging development it’s certainly possible the place is just rearranging its priorities. Which is fine. We’ll most certainly be there again for dinner.