Test Drives

tartareBeef tartare with nasturtium and rye

So what do we need to know about Henrietta?

It's certainly one of the biggest openings of the year and right now is the only restaurant you'll be able to find Ollie Dabbous cooking (at least until he opens his next new venture). The bar and restaurant take up the whole ground floor and part of the first floor of the Henrietta Hotel - the first UK hotel from super hip Experimental Group (we stayed in their Grand Pigalle hotel in Paris 

The bar and restaurant take up the whole ground floor and part of the first floor of the Henrietta Hotel - the first UK hotel from super hip Experimental Group (we stayed in their Grand Pigalle hotel in Paris earlier this year).

Where is it?

The Henrietta Hotel is - yes, on Henrietta Street, right next to Frenchie, with Leicester Square as the nearest tube. The sign is a little on the understated side, so keep an eye out for it. 

flatbreadGrilled flatbread with crab, garlic butter and coastal herbs

Where should we meet friends for a drink first?

There's no shortage of bars around here, but finding one that's any good is a slightly harder call. You could nip to Rules in the street next door for decent cocktails, the Lamb & Flag on Rose Street is a decent boozer or head to Maiden Lane for a glass of decent wine at Sibarita. Of course, there is a smallish bar at the entrance, featuring cocktails by cocktail historians and multi-award winning mixologists Jared Brown and Anistatia Miller. We paired ours with a snack of toasted pecans with honey and

So, where should we sit?

This is a hard one. While the restaurant is still bedding in, it looks as though they're keeping the diners to the ground floor - which has a direct view of the impressively gilded kitchen. However, we think that the upstairs room (which has its own bar) would be lovely during the day with the natural light coming in through the huge skylight. Residents get to have breakfast there. 

There are quite a few larger tables that would be good for groups too and we liked how well spaced out the room was - it's beautifully-designed as you'd expect from these guys.

fishRoast seabass with warm tarama broth and courgette ribbons

What's the food like?

Crikey, this was a hard menu to choose from - not because we didn't know what we wanted, but because we wanted everything.

In the end, we had to ask Maitre D' Dinos Tagkalos (who you may remember from Dabbous) to help whittle down our choices. And, as we didn't have a duff dish among them, we're going to list out exactly what we had in case you want to do the same:

  • Radishes with tarama (£3.50) - best value snack in WC2? It's a contender
  • Grilled flatbread with crab, garlic butter and coastal herbs (£10) - there are two other flatbread choices in this section of the menu, but we reckon we made the best choice 
  • Sheep milk curd with grillottes and marigold shoots on a crunchy pistachio base (£8) - almost enough to turn us vegetarian were it not for the next course...
  • Beef tartare with nasturtium and rye (£11) - a must-have for Dabbous fans as there's a touch of whisky and tobacco in the beef
  • Roast seabass with warm tarama broth and courgette ribbons (£19) - early summer on a plate.
  • Barbecued quail with fenugreek, toasted wheat, almonds and clover (£18) - all presented on a skewer, none of that flailing at the quail here

For dessert, there was only one choice for us. We stopped in our tracks when we saw the menu featured warm madeleines cooked to order and served with Chantilly cream (£8). They were as heavenly as expected. But we did feel compelled to order the chocolate truffles infused with pencil shavings (£3) which evoke schooltime pencil chewing and are about as odd as you could expect. We think these will be the sole divisive element of the menu in a Marmite way (but they're definitely worth a try). 

madelinesWarm madelines with chantilly cream

To drink?

To avoid any 125ml nonsense (we really aren't fans of the small wine serving), we asked our lovely Italian sommelier to pick a bottle for us - her choice of a 2014 Rully from  Domaine Vincent Dureuil Janthial  (£54) was spot on.

Overall thoughts:

London is going through a golden era of wonderful, idiosyncratic restaurant openings and Henrietta may just be the icing on the cake. First, there's the wonderful food paired with a lightness of touch in the service. And on top of that, it's pretty decently priced for this level of cooking in this part of town. We left highly impressed and think they've a huge hit on their hands.

What: Henrietta

Where: 14-15 Henrietta St, London WC2E 8QH

How to book: Book online or call 020 3794 5314

Find out more about Henrietta.

Hot Dinners were invited to Henrietta. Prices were correct at the time of writing. 

 

 
 

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