Gone are the days when you could only eat and drink at prescribed times. Since the relaxing of the licensing laws, premises are open all and every day. Henry’s café and bar offers food or drink whenever the customer wants it, which is all to the good.
The Piccadilly branch (there are two more in London at Liverpool Street and Covent Garden as well as others around the UK) is right on the edge of Mayfair. Opposite Green Park and Buckingham Palace and close to The Ritz, it couldn’t be handier for a stop-off after a hard morning’s shopping in Piccadilly or Bond Street or whizzing round the latest exhibition at the Royal Academy. It’s a big room on two levels, with a long bar. The decor is comforting and gentlemen’s club-like, nothing too modern, nothing flashy, just a smart and welcoming environment for a drink and a meal. During the week Henry’s opens at 8am (Saturday and Sunday from 10am) so you could start with a good breakfast and then do your shopping or sightseeing. As well as the main menu there’s also a brunch menu, a sharers menu and a comprehensive cocktail and wine list. And between courses or drinks you can have access to free Wi-fi.
Lunchtimes show that Henry’s is a good place to rendezvous with friends or family. It is congenial for just a drink while you are awaiting your guest(s) and central enough to make it convenient either to have a drink and a snack or just move on to somewhere else. It’s like your favourite local but without the drawbacks that pubs can have. Henry’s is eminently more civilised, the sort of place where you can take the whole family and big enough to accommodate party bookings large or small. No doubt earnest breakfast meetings, power lunches and serious dinners are the main part of Henry’s business, but tempered with visitors and tourists seeking inner refreshment.
Starting with breakfast there’s a full monty in the all-day breakfast or the traditional English brunch (bacon, sausages, eggs, tomato, mushrooms, hash browns and toast) or a vegetarian brunch with vegetarian sausages, plus eggs several ways, pastries, muffins and tea cakes. For lunch there’s a classic Ploughmans of ham, pork pie, vintage Cheddar and creamy Stilton with pickles and chutney and ciabatta bread, or classic and deli sandwiches and wraps, burgers, pasta dishes and salads. If you’re not too hungry, there are sharing plates (with potato wedges, nachos, antipasti, fish and chips and Greek mezze options) or a Classic platter of assorted bites and dips.
From the starters menu the chilli sauteed scallops (£6.45) make a good choice with succulent king scallops seared with crushed chilli and served on a bed of mixed leaves with a sweet chilli dipping sauce: truly scrumptious. The peppered mushroom and Stilton brioche is almost a meal in itself. Pan-fried mushrooms in a pepper sauce are strewn over the toasted brioche and then topped with melted Stilton which is so delicious it’s impossible not to finish it, cholesterol or no cholesterol.
Main courses include steak and fries, sausages and mash, chicken with mustard and tarragon, shoulder of lamb, chicken or beef curry and Scottish salmon. Henry’s Fish Pie (£10.75) is one of the best, packed with prawns and hearty pieces of cod and smoked haddock cooked in a creamy white sauce with mashed potato piped on top. It comes with a separate dish of fresh seasonal vegetables. Beef and mushroom baked suet pudding (£10.45) may not be to everybody’s taste, but then it’s not every day you find suet pudding on a menu. Not for the faint-hearted, this has chunks of juicy beef with mushrooms cooked in a rich gravy, all packed into in a light suet pudding. Comfort food par excellence served with either mash or fries and an assortment of fresh vegetables, it’s unbeatable as filling top nosh.
For dessert, the Chocolate Puddle Pudding is a chocolate sponge with a rich chocolate sauce and whipped cream, a luscious pudding if ever there was one - unless of course you’re having the chocolate fondue with a warm chocolate fudge sauce into which you dip pieces of strawberry and banana, slices of fudge brownie and sweet waffles. It’s like dying and going to chocolate heaven!
Name your poison at Henry’s from their list of cocktails (£6.45) including long drinks such as Mai Tai, Raspberry Fizz, a Key West Cooler, Long Island Iced Tea, or mojitos, Martinis, short cocktails such as a White Russian, Bellinis, Kir Royale or the classic Champagne cocktail (£8.45). The wine list has glasses from under £4 and bottles from just over £14 to around £23, sparklers from £22 and champagne from £35.95 to £75.95. The Spanish Chardonnay, Ash Tree Estate from Castilla y Leon at £15.45 has a nice, fresh citrus and melon flavours, pale lemon in colour but with a fairly rich finish. To end the meal an Earl Grey tea makes a pleasant change from the usual range of coffees.
The Last Word
The all-day brasserie has become a boon to everybody and Henry’s seems to be high up on the list of recommendable places to go at any time of the day or night for a satisfying meal or just a drink.