Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Henri's Cheese, Wine (and Tables)

I actually thought Henri's existed before it opened. Last fall, my wife and I were taking care of some errands downtown, and we both had the same idea for lunch: a sandwich, but also something completely luscious. Good bread. Really good cheese. Maybe a glass of wine. At the time, I had heard a little bit about Antonelli's and it seemed like just the ticket. So we headed over to Hyde Park, expecting to find a little European bistro with a monumental selection of cheese. What we found was a knee-buckling, awe-inspiring nose-full of pure cheese love to be sure, but there were no tables. No sandwiches. Wine, but no glasses.

Turns out: our perfect little bistro hadn't been born yet. It has now. What we wanted that fall day was Henri's. Pristine and industrial chic, Henri's is built up with weathered wood, exposed stone, concrete and industrial fittings. Simple, multi-paned windows let in a flood of light, but low ceilings and dark woods lend it a cozy feel.





Food options are simple, delicious and limited. It's almost more of a curated collection of food than a restaurant. The wine selection is small, but fabulous. Blue Bottle Coffee is available in individual french press only. Cheeses are beautifully arrayed in a relatively small cooler in front, and they are stunning. The sandwiches are tempting, but I stayed with what looked to me like the core competency - a $10 cheese board - owner's choice. I mention the price for a reason - in an Austin increasingly full of ultra pricey food-centric opportunities I think this may be the best $10 lunch in town.



Everything on my plate - the almonds, the house-made peach mustard, the crusty french baguette - was fantastic; but the standout was the soft goat cheese - Haystack Mountain Snowdrop. Cheese on another scale altogether from almost anything I've had - right on the edge between the fresh bite of a fresh chevre and the sensous goo of a ripe brie. Magic cheese, this was.

It takes a certain amount of bravado to grab the location between Barley Swine and Lick, a certain amount of confidence that you can deliver something extraordinary. Henri's nails it.



Henri's Cheese and Wine on Urbanspoon

3 comments:

from maggie's farm said...

Eli, Henri's should pay you for this lovely post! lol The pics are fabulous and I can't wait to try the soft goat. Cheese, that is.

Chef Dad said...

It sounds great. The wife loves goat cheese and I'm a guy who cooks so charcuterie always gets notice. And you're right, if location is everything then this person has some intestinal fortitude.

Eli Castro said...

Thanks guys! Good cheese so painfully hard to find. Happy to have a source to feed the habit down South.

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