Run, don’t walk, don’t pass go, don’t collect $200, just find a direct route to Henrietta’s Table, you will thank me later, I promise. It is located in the Charles Hotel right on the edge of Harvard Square and is a true hidden jewel.
DJ , M, and I had reservations on the evening of Thursday March 13th and truthfully I am surprised that we have not gone back already. It was just such a pleasant experience from the very first moment we arrived.
From their web site:
“Henrietta’s Table prides itself on “Fresh from the Farm and Honest to Goodness Home Cooking.” Chef Davis and his staff are committed to finding the best regional and organically grown produce, not only to support the local farmers and community, but to bring award-winning dishes to our guests.”
This accurately describes the vibe oozing from the restaurant right when you walk through the front door. There is a contagious feeling of pride from the staff perhaps due to the superiorly fresh and local ingredients used in their kitchen. Is it possible to find fault with a restaurant that has a stack of their local farmers on trading cards tied with twine available as a free souvenir for customers?
The decor is very much like a farmhouse with a country feel and although not my personal style, it worked and was not hokey at all. It is very bright with lots of space in between tables so you aren’t forced to be more intimate with your neighbors than you are ready for, which was a step up from our recent experience at Gaslight.
Our waitress was a total sweetheart and seemed almost too happy to be truly genuine but she was legit. She answered a few questions for us, made some recommendations and then told us that the entire menu was available for the 3-course prix-fixe for Restaurant Week. Woot!
DJ and I ordered blood orange martinis and after the first sip, it was very obvious that they were not holding back on the amount of liquor used. Nope, no filler at all. It was delish and not as sweet as you might think. Try it.
The bread basket really stood out and I was not surprised to hear that everything is baked on the premises and of course was accompanied with fresh butter. I half expected to see a farmer’s wife in the open kitchen churning it into squares of perfection with an old fashioned butter churn and plunger. There was a nice assortment in the basket, from sourdough to wheat to my favorite, a raisin and nut bread that was dense and decadent.
There was an extensive cheese menu and natch, we had to partake in some local dairy goodness. We ordered a selection of three that included gouda with hints of lavender, sharp cheddar, and a parmigiano-esque cheese (blanking on the name) but all were very good. The gouda was a bit disappointing since it had a hint of another herb that sort of took the prominence away from the lavender, but still was very unique. Apricot jam accompanied the cheese selection which worked very well.
My first course was a fairly simple but successful salad, specifically with native spinach salad and fresh fruit, Westfield Farm chevre, and a spicy maple pecan vinaigrette dressing. There were pepper-glazed pecans on the top. I have a theory that whenever nuts are used in a salad, you get three maybe four if you are lucky. It is like the restaurant has a nut famine but not Henrietta, she made sure that my salad had a very generous amount of pecans to complement the chevre and fruit. Delish! The chevre was so fresh that I was on the lookout for a goat wandering around. Sadly Billy was nowhere to be found.
A noteworthy observation is that the individual courses were not rushed. You are actually able to enjoy yourself, relax, and savor the freshness of what you are eating. I have no plans to enter a speed-eating competition and I do not appreciate when restaurants assume that you are in training for the next event, not allowing any breathing room before you are ushered out. That was far from the case at Henrietta’s.
For my entree, I ordered a lamb dish, specifically an Elysian Fields Farm’s pulled lamb shank with crispy Vermont smoked bacon, flageolet beans, and organic local feta. The flavors were very interesting and I wish I had not been so full when it arrived so I could have enjoyed more of it. I also got a side of local (of course they were, what did you expect, frozen?) beets and they were quite divine. A mix of red and yellow that were roasted and not swimming in any type of sauce at all, which I appreciated and enjoyed. The lamb was not gamy at all but was succulent and tender. It literally melted in my mouth along with the feta, which tasted so different from what you are used to getting at the grocery store. It was smoother and creamier and not coarse at all. It really made the meal. The beans were a nice touch and I am not a huge fan of bacon but it added a nice smokiness to the dish. I would definitely get this again. The portion was just perfect and even though I only ate about a fifth of my meal, I truly enjoyed every bite.
Unfortunately, dessert was the only disappointment of the evening and after such success, it was not how I wanted to end my experience at Henrietta’s. Any of my friends can tell you that bread pudding is one of my favorite desserts and I was pleased to see that it was an option, specifically chocolate bread pudding with caramelized bananas and vanilla bean ice cream. When it arrived, I have to say that it did not look especially appetizing but more like something left by a cow from one of the local farms. Sorry to be so graphic but I have to be honest. It was fairly bland and not dense but airy which just didn’t work. The vanilla bean ice cream and the caramelized bananas were the saving grace and the small scoop was just enough to sweeten my palate. I left most of the bread pudding which is not usual behavior for me, but it really was nothing special.
Despite the bread pudding, I really can’t say enough praise about Henrietta’s and I plan on going back very soon to sample more of their fresh and local ingredients. I can hear the blood orange margarita calling my name.