It’s been a long time since I’ve gone out to eat on Valentine’s Day and Henri is the perfect place for those that enjoy the perks of fine dining without the uptight vibe. Huge front windows grant an amazing view of Millennium Park while the decor feels rich and decadent yet inviting.
Thick leather bar stools line the front bar lending a relaxed feel of the room while pristine white table clothes, light green velvet and leather chairs and booths sit perfectly under crystal chandeliers. I believe it was faux but it may have been real leather that lined the walls of the bathroom. Nice touch.
Service is excellently choreographed so you’re never left long waiting for anything but no one is bothering you when they shouldn’t be.
The Valentine’s menu was a choice of a prix fixe four course or grand tasting with nine courses. We choose the four course and were more than satisfied with taste, presentation and portion.
Albacore Crudo served with light crisps, avocado, drops of pomegranate, hints of candied cilantro, soya pearls and bits of rich confit cippolini. Beautiful presentation and textures added to the pleasure of eating such fresh fish.
The chicken Galantine is served warm with pistachio crisps (they should sell these at Whole Foods). The speckled lettuce is lightly dressed with roasted banana vinaigrette giving a wonderful slightly sweet flavor that complements the acidity in the grapefruit.
The diver scallops were a lively combination of fruit and spice served with endive marmalade, grapefruit gelée, Pimm’s glacé and citrus coriander.
The truffled Gnocchi had a generous shaving of Perigord truffle adding the perfect amount of pungency to this elegant dish. Served with nutty brown beech mushrooms, watercress and classic buerre blanc sauce.
Pheasant Au Vin is a take on the coq au vin with red wine braised pheasant served in a deconstructed style with celery, potato and red pearl onion. The tooth-covered hedgehog mushroom, similar to chanterelles, and chunks of lardon give a solid foundation of rich flavor to this wonderful dish. It’s perfect for a cozy winter dinner.
The Moroccan Spiced Lamb Loin was full of fragrant spices like cumin, coriander and turmeric served with sweet potato, mild tasting knob onion, chermoula marinade, harissa jus lie and refreshing dollops of yoghurt.
Soufflé served warm with a healthy pouring of rich slightly citrus tasting Grand Marnier kalamansi anglaise. The custard sauce was heaven with the light and airy soufflé.
Gâteau St. Honoré is a classic french puff pastry and Henri’s version had praline mousseline and sweet hazelnut nougatine. It was almost too beautiful to eat but we managed to demolish it down to the white chocolate curls.
Pinot Gris Big Table Farm “Wirtz Vineyard” Willamette Valley, Oregon 2012. Fruity taste coupled with spice-like cinnamon notes.
Dessert Wine: Corte Sant’Alda Recioto delle Valpoicella Veneto, Italy 2008. Sweet almost blackberry taste.
After dinner cocktails:
Puritanical Ban served hot and made from Flor de Cana 7 year rum, St. Elizabeth Allspice dram, cinnamon, clove, brown sugar cubes. You stir in the compound butter and cinnamon stick and sit back an enjoy.
Bridge of Sighs is a dramatic drink with an equally dramatic back story and preparation. “Spanning the Rio di Palazzo in Venice, this white limestone bridge connects Doge’s palace with a prison located across the river. After conviction, prisoners would be led across…and catch their last view of Venice before imprisonment. The name…stems from the suggestion that prisoners would let out a sigh as they passed over and enjoyed their last glimpse of the beautiful city.”
Spice-infused reposado tequilla, Benedictine, Amaro Ramazzotti, apple cider and lemon. It smells like a camp fire, tastes like cinnamon and very easy to drink. Check out how it’s made:
The Making of the Puritaical Ban at Henri