Valentine’s Day 2010 at Chez Henri

Last night, Adam and I continued to celebrate a wonderful Valentine’s day weekend with a dinner at Chez Henri. According to the Company’s website, Chez Henri is a modern French bistro with a Cuban twist. The restaurant is on many of Boston’s “most romantic” lists. We were going to originally go to L’Espalier (have been dying to try the restaurant and this seemed like a special enough occasion) but their special Valentine’s day pre-fixe was nearly $185/person. Nevermind…

I am telling you this, because upon arrival at Chez Henri we were surprised (and annoyed) to find out that they also had a special Valentine’s day menu. And you guessed it, it was more expensive!! I saw Adam started to sweat a little after that. Way to screw unsuspecting guys trying to impress their dates on this day of love, Chez Henri! I told him I don’t mind if we just pay for the dinner out of our joint account. He calmed down a bit after that. I saw a couple next to us that went through a similar shock upon being seated (there is no mention of the regular menu being unavailable on Valentine’s day on the restaurant’s website) and they clearly struggled with these price tags. Not cool, not cool. This is why we usually stay in on Valentine’s day and cook a special meal together (wasn’t an option this year, but we’ll resume this tradition in 2011). All right, so enough about this unpleasant unexpected twist. Let’s get to the atmosphere, the food, the service, and the whole experience after that. :)

This was our first time at Chez Henri. I think it’s hard to define “romantic” because everyone I am sure has a different idea of what that is. To me, the restaurant must have dim lighting, be small (i.e. cozy) with maybe some candles as part of the decor. The lights were definitely dim at Chez Henri but it didn’t scream romantic to me. The lights were really colorful (trying to be fun with that Cuban twist?) and that is not my idea of romantic. I wish I took a picture of it so you don’t think I’m a crazy person but the dim lights in fact do not lend themselves to good photos.

Despite a special Valentine’s Day menu, everything sounded delicious. Adam missed out on the french onion soup but the arugula salad caught his eye. It caught my eye as well, but since we always try to order different things so we can try each others’, I attempted to order the tuna tartar (nope – onions in the mix), then the mushroom soup (also had onions)… In fact, everything except for the arugula salad had onions!! It seemed to me that because it was Valentine’s day the chef was also going to be somewhat inflexible. Our waitress was extremely sweet but she pretty much gave me one option for a starter. There was no: “We can take onions out of this or that”… nope, I was “forced” to get the arugula salad. Good thing it sounded good to me already 😀

Before our starters arrived, we were served some warm and hearty multi-grain bread with butter. It was really good – very nutty. Adam and I both loved it. I had one slice. :)

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We also ordered a bottle of Cotturi Sandocino cabernet. It was a little too sweet for my taste but I still enjoyed it with the meal. I probably had about 2 glasses.

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Arugula salad with duck confit, shaved beets, peppered anjou pear and cabrales cheese

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The salad was great! It was really well balanced – I love arugula with citrusy dressings and it paired well with the roasted beets, sweet pear wedges and the duck. I don’t like blue cheese so I took that off my plate right away and the radicchio was way too bitter. Regardless, Adam and I both got the salad and thought it was a great starter – nothing too out of the box or extraordinary but well executed.

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For my main course I went with the tuna au poivre, syrah reduction, creamer potatoes with smoke braised pork belly tossed with kale. The waitress highly recommended this dish (and the lobster pasta) and said it was one of the lighter options. Still a good amount of oil/butter on it but it didn’t seem greasy.

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This dish was once again really well executed. The tuna was perfectly cooked, the potatoes were delicious, the kale was the best! I really could taste the pork belly “juices.” I wish there was more kale! 😀

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I enjoyed my entree, but once again thought it was nothing special compared to other meals I’ve had in other restaurants. It was very traditional – I was looking for the advertised Cuban twist. Not so much. Adam’s wood grilled filet mignon with potato gratin dish was out of this world though! Incredible, in fact!! There were copious amounts of butter but it was all worth it. That is a meal we would come back for, even at Valentine’s day prices.

No worries, there was one more course (my favorite) to wow us. I needed a chocolate cake. Yes, needed. 😉

Boca negra with cava macerated strawberries

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This was a small but very dense flourless chocolate cake. It was amazing. Super rich and perfectly balanced by the fresh (cava syrup sweetened) strawberries. The cacao nibs added a welcomed crunch and a tiny bit of bitterness. Very, very good. I love finishing meals on such a happy high note.

All in all, Adam and I enjoyed our Valentine’s Day dinner at Chez Henri. I wished the menu was a little more inspired but perhaps majority of customers crave more traditional fare on Valentine’s Day. The only real downside was the inflated prices but some wine, yummy food and love in the air helped us get over it. :mrgreen: I would say this should be a a big no-no for restaurants, though (a warming should suffice so customers know what they’re getting themselves into)! We may be back to Chez Henri for a taste of their famous cuban sandwiches.

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15 comments to Valentine’s Day 2010 at Chez Henri

  • What a lovely looking restaurant! It looks like you had a great Valentine’s weekend!

  • Beautiful dinner out. I especially love your hair!

  • Love your hair! Glad you had a nice nice out even though the food wasn’t 100% on point. I hate when they can’t take things out of dishes – to me it screams made ahead of time, NOT made to order! I too don’t like blue cheese, enough that I wouldn’t be able to just pick it out. At least you finished on a high note with chocolate cake :)
    P.S. I baked something right up your alley today (pics aren’t on my blog yet, I’m trying to get my work done first) – Mascarpone Brownies with Espresso Ganache… rich and fudgy, the way brownies are meant to be!

  • Thanks for the review. Your salad looked really yummy and the bread too! I want to go to L’Espalier so bad!!

  • Looks like you´ve had a great V-day dinner!
    Over all, it´s great that you and Adam could enjoy each other´s company. So sweet :)
    Have a great day!
    Brazilian XOXO´s,
    Gabriela
    P.S.: Loved your hair! You look beautiful :)

  • Can’t believe those prices!! Looks delicious though. I usually find that pricier restaurants have smaller portions (ironically) did you find this??

  • Ugh, that’s so annoying they didn’t let you know about the special menu beforehand – that definitely influences your decision on where to go! The food all sounds great though, so we’ll have to check it out. Glad you had a great VDay!

  • Liz

    I hate when restaurants jack up the prices for Valentine’s Day too! Sounds like you were able to move past it and enjoy a great evening.

  • It looks like it was a delicious dinner but the next time you want to splurge I definitely recommend L’Espalier! My husband and I went there for our anniversary dinner in June. We did the seasonal degustation menu paired with wine. It was the most expensive but also the most memorable meal!

  • I hate prix-fix menus. My food tastes are not as refined as those of others (I’m incredibly picky) and it would be a really awkward situation for me!

    I’m glad you enjoyed the meal though!

  • Elina

    Thanks all for your compliments on my hair. 😀 I think I may start leaving it curly more often.

  • sister inna

    AHA! good hair after all i see 😉
    the cake looks yum. i hate it when restaurants do that price switch-aroo on you. that would be enough to get them “blacklisted” in my household hehe

  • You have different accounts? How do you work that?

    Looks like a yummy dinner but sucks that the menu was preset! My husband and I almost got caught into that too but we decided not to go to that restaurant (one we wanted to try) on Valentines Day so that we could actually get what we wanted on the menu.

  • Elina

    Diana – we have our checks direct deposited into our joint account and then at the beginning of every month we each transfer a set amount into our personal accounts for shopping, gifts, etc (we pay for mortgage, utility bills, groceries, regular meals out, etc. out of the joint account). This way I can buy a million gym pants and fun make-up without “asking for permission” and Adam can go gamble with his money (he loves poker with his buddies) and I don’t care at all. It’s also, for obvious reasons, good for gifts. We’ve done this for over a year now and really love this arrangement.

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