Henrietta Restaurant

Restaurants, Contemporary European Covent Garden
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Henrietta Restaurant

The latest venture from superchef Ollie Dabbous, at a fashionable boutique hotel.

Just what is it that makes this fair maiden so special? Is it her laidback, effortlessly cool service? Her laidback, effortlessly cool vibe? Or her food which, given the setting, is improbably impressive? A bit of all three? Ding-ding, you win.

It’s no surprise, really. Henrietta is the first restaurant in aeons from brilliant, boundary-breaking chef Ollie Dabbous (‘da-boo’, but you knew that). He’s in the process of closing his first two gaffs, leaving him – for now at least – to focus all his attention on just one baby: this one.

It is a hotel restaurant, yes, but one with soul. The boutique building – a knock-through of two Covent Garden townhouses – is the latest from the boys behind the Experimental Cocktail Club and hip hangout Le Grand Pigalle in Paris. And perhaps that’s why, on the night of my visit, it felt like a place to kick back, to unwind. There was a carefree, summery vibe, evoking an upmarket Mediterranean villa. Walls are pale and festooned with mirrors; floors are hexagonally tiled; there’s a soft-toned fresco of a ‘big cat’ on the ceiling. Because who doesn’t want a cat on the ceiling?

Staff had passion and personality. They even had the odd facial piercing (tatts may be an obsolete barometer of a venue’s un-uptightness, but cheek studs are still fairly progressive). They knew the menu inside out; one even promised, with a wink, that a dish would, yes, be ‘life-changing’.

He was talking, of course, about the madeleines. People get weirdly excited about madeleines and I can normally never understand why. Here, I get it. Because the just-baked mini-cakes are so insanely buttery, they taste deep-fried. They’re churros-esque, only the ‘dipping sauce’ happens to be chantilly cream. Eating them is like bingeing on Netflix: you know you should probably stop. But. Just. One. More.

Hold up. I’m getting ahead of myself. What of the savouries? Again, I can’t choose a winner. Was it the steak tartare – fiercely fresh to the point of sweetness – atop a bed of what was billed simply as ‘rye’ that arrived not sliced but as a molehill of crumbs? On top: picture-perfect nasturtium leaves. It’s bound to break insta-hearts. Or perhaps the plate of pink, juicy saddleback pork slices set over a prairie of cracked wheat? Or one of the best vegetarian dishes of the year: smooth, nutmeggy ricotta dumplings in a soup of slightly tart, garlicky buttermilk, studded with fat garden peas, frilly mushrooms and soft chunks of artichoke, then strewn with herbs and flowers? Tell you what. You go. Then you decide.

By: Tania Ballantine


Venue name: Henrietta Restaurant
Address: 14-15 Henrietta Street
Opening hours: Breakfast served 7am-10:30am Mon – Sat; 8am-10.30am Sun; Lunch served midday-2.30pm Mon-Sat; pre-theatre served 5:30pm-6:30pm Mon-Sat; dinner served from 6pm-10pm Mon-Sat; dinner served 6pm-9pm Sun
Transport: Tube: Covent Garden
Price: Dinner for two with drinks and service: around £110.
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