Henri restaurant review: A crowd-pleaser with room for privacy

Henri restaurant review: A crowd-pleaser with room for privacy

Unrated throughout the pandemic.

The first time Frederick De Pue encountered a Bonnet rotisserie, he was a 19-12 months-previous doing the job at Le Louis XV, the French dining temple from Alain Ducasse in Monte Carlo. “I was permitted to clear it, not cook” on it, claims the Belgian-born chef, now 45, with a gentle chuckle.

Quickly-forward to 2022 and De Pue’s new downtown restaurant, the Henri. 1 of the few suggestions the chef did not trim from his design and style budget was the three-spit, fuel-powered rotisserie positioned against a handsome blue-and-white tile wall. Invest $50,000 on a one piece of gear and you want people to see it. Noticeable many thanks to an open kitchen, the beautiful machinery transforms piglets, lamb and hen into added points of pleasure at a cafe which is each obtainable and unconventional.

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Quick, name yet another (great) cafe that gives as a lot space for private gatherings as for the dining general public. Entirely 50 {91be0d88bed53b80bf0859f2dedb2d85bb451f7d22b6ebb92a2467e0cbfcbdab} of the Henri is devoted to secluded get-togethers. Further than the bar and 60-seat dining space facing Warner Theatre is a smooth oval kitchen surrounded by 6 venues for web hosting a complete of 120 patrons. The greater rooms are named for the four seasons, have access to a independent bar and listing a $150-for each-man or woman minimum the far more personal Dawn and Dusk involve a $1,200 meals and consume least per environment. Bash planners work with committed staff members to appear up with tailor made menus.

A amazing kitchen equipment and considerable area for private events would not be the attracts they are devoid of solid cooking. De Pue, who also owns the bistro Flamant in Annapolis, did his research forward of opening about winter and made a menu that brings together mass-enchantment food with dishes not all people else is carrying out. Diners sit down to read about steak frites and crab cakes, but also celery root lasagna and suckling pig crepe.

That porcine wrap, a 1st training course, is fantastic. Slices of pork, carved from a piglet stuffed with herbs and slowly but surely cooked on the spit, are sure in a sheer chestnut crepe whose surprising garnish — uncooked pink onion and lime — continue to keep the abundant dish in check out. The Bonnet is also the source of the incredibly great cauliflower “couscous.” De Pue cooks complete heads of the vegetable in the rotisserie, charring the outside but rendering the inside moist. The centre is taken off, finely chopped, seasoned with cranberries and parsley and splayed around sumac-spiked yogurt. Strips of fried parsnips incorporate top and crunch to the colourful bowl.

Just 3 substances go into the creamy crab cakes: crab, mayonnaise and thinly sliced celery root. A shower of delightful little tiles — dehydrated potato chips dusted with mushroom salt — and blood orange dressing fill out the plate.

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Just one visit’s mackerel and apple tartare, so salty it could double as a deer lick, is of late a subtly seasoned tuna tartare blended with the same minced fruit and toasted walnuts and served on a buttermilk dressing dappled with chive oil. (To the Henri’s credit, the charge of the original tartare was taken off when we informed the personnel of the salt assault.)

Every other cafe would seem to serve meatballs, a fantastic use of leftovers (believe trimmings). The Henri resurrects an idea from the chef’s youth — a meatball manufactured with pickled egg — placing it on shredded cabbage and carrot lit with ginger, and circling the orb with spinach coulis. The title “Bird Nest” satisfies the staging and was hatched with little ones in brain, claims the chef.

The most interesting fish dish is sauteed turbot, strewn with fresh herbs to flatter its fragile flesh and propped up on meltingly gentle fennel. The buttery fillet arrives with panisses, finger-extended, fluffy-centered chickpea fritters. The heartiest entree commences with a simple notion, lasagna, and deploys bechamel, black trumpet mushrooms and wild boar to enrich layers of tender egg noodles. I adore it, even nevertheless I really feel my pandemic-limited trousers compressing with each mouthful.

Aspect dishes show believed. A tiny garden of beans — snappy French inexperienced beans, limas and creamy gigante — are stippled with aioli. Hate kale? The Henri could possibly get you to enjoy the sturdy environmentally friendly as it is prepared below, flash-fried to a wisp so the kale shatters in your mouth. The chef says he wished to offer “a European take” on the fried spinach created well known by chef Vikram Sunderam at Rasika in Penn Quarter. De Pue personalizes his variation with pickled pearl onions and a champagne-raisin dressing.

Creamy toddler Dutch potatoes are particularly satisfying. Massaged with duck unwanted fat and garlic, the tubers consider on additional flavor from the drippings of little by little spinning chickens on the rotisserie. But my most popular spit-cooked meat listed here is really lamb, strewn with herbs, brushed with Dijon mustard and introduced as tangy slices. Venison sausage is also very good. You could dilemma the link’s purple solid the coloration is discussed by the fact the floor meat is to start with cooked in red wine.

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De Pue claims he took his time naming the cafe, trying to avoid just about anything affiliated with the legal professionals and lobbyists who animate so significantly of this part of town. The Henri pays homage to De Pue’s Belgian grandfather, a household cook dinner regarded for his tomato soup with meatballs and for hiding sweets in the coats of his grandchildren. The chef claims his grandfather died at 90, but not prior to De Pue acquired to clearly show him renderings of the restaurant, which opened on the web-site of the former Chef Geoff’s.

Built by the proprietor, the dining home is produced cozy with adequate padding to phase a number of, simultaneous pillow fights, blue curtains that match the shade of the sensible menus, and a raised ceiling from which a hive of handsome lights fall — “recycled cardboard,” states the chef of the “chandelier” that will make as substantially of an impact as the exhibition kitchen area. Individuals in lookup of oval tables, for relieve of dialogue, will respect the numerous rounds gracing Henri’s corners. Any dinner is improved by a thing from the bar Capturing Star is daring with rye, fizzy with glowing wine, racy with ginger and fruity with peach.

Desserts look engaging, but they are inclined to be the menu’s weakest hyperlink. I was nervous about my knife breaking the plate supporting a rock-really hard, wine-stained pear with the almond cake, as effectively as the plate with the misnamed speculoos “tart,” which is far more like a bulletproof cookie keeping a bland, pistachio-green globe of white chocolate. Greater to order a nightcap or finish some frites.

The Henri opened at a challenging minute in February. But extra employees returning to their downtown offices this thirty day period implies an ever-livelier bar and restaurant, and a new seek the services of at the Henri: a second occasions coordinator to cope with the crush of fascination in personal entertaining. De Pue is on to a thing, and it is primarily scrumptious.

1301 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. (Entrance on 13th Avenue NW.) 202-989-5881. thehenridc.com. Open up: Indoor eating 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday via Friday and 4 to 11 p.m. each day. Costs: Dinner appetizers $13 to $21, entrees $28 to $46. Seem test: 77 decibels/Have to speak with raised voice. Accessibility: No boundaries at entrance restrooms are ADA-compliant. Pandemic protocols: All personnel are vaccinated, but mask use is optional.