Sometimes your friends and loved ones seem hell bent on drawing you into their first world dramas. Your Great Aunt needs help writing a strongly worded email to Greenwich Council about the nightly cat orgies outside her bungalow. Natalie needs your help in deciphering why her latest internet beau doesn’t reply to her messages within a five-minute window. And Gareth won’t stop sending screenshots of him trolling Leave voters on Twitter. It’s at this time you need to draw strength from this Polish proverb: ‘not my circus, not my monkeys’. Politely excuse yourself from their dramas, and book a table at Henrietta.
Henrietta is a modern European restaurant in Covent Garden, hidden inside a boutique hotel by the same name. After passing through the monkey circus outside on the street to get to it, a zen-like feeling will come over you as you walk inside. The space is small but beautiful, and looks like a Georgian townhouse had a baby with a copy of Vogue Italia. An extended lobby bar transitions into the restaurant space, and thanks to a sky light, it also feels like you’re hanging out in an uber sophisticated and chilled conservatory.
The seasonal menu at Henrietta has been created in consultation with the innovator of ‘accessible posh nosh in a cool setting’ Ollie Dabbous, and the result is... accessible posh flowery modern Euro cuisine in a cool setting.
And when we say ‘flowery’, we mean that actual flowers and grass appear on most of the dishes. This might sound pretentious, but it works here because without the flowery fuss, the dishes might look plain or even a bit ugly in comparison to their surroundings. For example, the saddleback pork is a stunning dish of Iberico pork wrapped in melted lardo. Yes, that’s pork wrapped in melted pig fat. And yes, it’s a dream. Is it a looker without those flowers? Not really. Would you eat it anyway? Of course. Do the flowers make it taste better? No, but we appreciate the effort.
As for the rest of the menu, underneath the foraged things you’ll find fresh, well-seasoned, and light food. Even if you start your meal with a crab-topped flatbread and end with 10 portions of the Madeleines (which, by the way, are worth the fifteen minute wait every time), you won’t feel weighed down. And when you add the excellent cocktails (designed by the folks behind The Experimental Cocktail Club), attentive service, and the sheer bliss of feeling tucked away from the outside world, you can’t help but wonder - why do cats keep shagging specifically outside Aunt Maggie’s bungalow?
There are a number of flatbreads on the menu here, and our favourite is the one with sweet fresh crab and butter. It’s great way to kick off a meal here. Yes, there are flowers on it.
This is probably the poshest egg mayonnaise you’re ever going to eat. It comes with some nice blanched white asparagus.
At least they warn you in the name that there will be green and flower stuff happening. Underneath that is a lovely beef tartare, and the rye adds an interesting bready texture to it.
An excellent piece of pork wrapped in the thinnest of melted Italian fat. Pretty epic. The flowers make an appearance here too.
These may be better than the ones they serve at St. John. There, we said it. While our mouths were full.