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Had a disappointing dinner at Henry's End last night. Something definitely went wrong. Either the kitchen forgot how to cook, or I've lost all my taste buds.

 

We started with a salad that I thought had artichoke, beets and goat cheese. The waiter brought over what looked like a simple mesclun greens salad with some dollops of goat cheese and crushed nuts. "Isn't this supposed to have artichokes?" he asked. He took it back to the kitchen and returned with some artichokes that had been dumped on top. They tasted as if they had come straight out of a jar. In fact, I don't think the salad was dressed at all.

 

I ordered the wild boar ragout with truffled polenta. Part of their wild game festival. (Everybody dance.) It was basically boar chilli, but without flavor. Looked like diced meat, seared and braised with tomato and onion. The meat was a little dry, but the dish really lacked any meaty, smoky or even spicy flavor. The polenta was served like a scoop of ice cream in the middle. I detected no truffle. (Because it's easy to drizzle some truffle oil on the polenta and pretty impossible not to taste it, I really think the kitchen either screwed up, or I've lost my ability to taste.)

 

My friend had the penne with lobster and cream sauce. This was good. Not surprisingly, it was low on lobster -- seemed to just have a bunch of bits from the legs. But the penne was cooked well and the sauce was rich but not overwhelming.

 

I should add that the restaurant is very charming and comfortable. Service was very friendly. With four glasses of wine, the bill came to $106.

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Popped in last night to get a plate of elk chops before they disappear for the season. It had actually been a couple years since I'd last dined there - on that visit things were a bit off an uninspire

I've love all my tatste buds.

 

Freudian slip?

Gadzooks.

 

Who's this Steve R. person?

 

I was going to cancel our reservation for tomorrow night with Omni/Brows & never go back based on your experience, until your final "Who's this Steve R. person" line. :angry:

 

Seriously, sorry your experience wasnt good. As many know, this is one of my top 5 places to eat and I go very, very regularly. In addition to tomorrow night's dinner there with Omni, we're already reserved for next Tuesday night for another friend's birthday.

 

No excuses for them. They're responsible for plating better. But... just so you know... they give a free "throw away" mixed greens salad in between courses (dressed with a mustard vinigrette) so very few folks order salads there. I've never had the wild boar so I can't comment on whether it's usually better. The penne dish is sometimes my app (1/2 portions available) & I really like it. If you ever go back, I recommend the buffalo rib eye or the elk chops for wild game entrees and the turtle soup as app.; the rabbit strudel is pretty good as well. If you dont want their higher end stuff, the fried chicken is excellent there, as are their other chicken dishes (and most fish).

 

Mention my name and you're guaranteed special treatment. This usually includes being shunned and stuck in a corner.

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Well we're going to Henry's End tomorrow with Steve & Ginny...I've wanted to get there for years, and I'm looking forward to it. It's my understanding that their strength is with meat...

So? Did it suck? :angry:

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No it did not "suck." I started with a game charcuterie plate - sausages were good, mildly gamey and well cooked. The terrine however was not good. Way too much gelatin, and serious overuse of clove/allspice.

 

Pleasant green salad as a mid-course.

 

My main was elk chops. I liked the meat very much and it was also cooked nicely - rare and tender and juicy. But I didn't much care for the parmesan crust all over the chops, and I thought the sauce they were sitting in was too sweet and fruity.

 

Eyebrows had salmon which he liked. I tried Ginny's steak and Steve's buffalo steak and they were both good.

 

We drank some good wine and service could not have been nicer (Ginny & Steve are serious regulars). The room is great - quirky and cozy and full of personality. And it's very comfortable.

 

If Henry's End were in my neighborhood, I'd go all the time. I'd learn what the good things on the menu are, I'd have game specials, and I'd be very happy. That being said, it's not a destination restaurant and I wouldn't recommend that anybody shlep too far to go there. I had wanted to go for years and years, having never made it there when I lived in Park Slope.

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I like having fresh sets of tastebuds going there with us... it gives me insight I no longer have on this place. I'm very comfortable loving it and am not objective in the least. Since we dont cook at home, it's one of 3 or 4 places where the food has become so familiar, it's as if this is the way we make it at home, if that makes sense to anyone.

 

At any rate, it was an average meal there. We've had nights where the kitchen was off quite a bit (I think Lex and Deb were there one of those times: sorry 'bout that) and we've had times where everything clicked and came alive. This was a better indication of the day in/day out functioning of the place.

 

I think Omni's right about the terrine. The piece I tasted wasnt anything I'd recommend either. The owner/chef loves to use allspice, clove and other similar spicings and it didnt work on the terrine. (as an aside: although we didnt have the fried chicken, I think its one of the best around but has a lot of clove, etc in it as well). My pheasant ravioli w/rabbit sausage was light on the sausage, a little thin in the sauce, but very flavorful. Ginny says that her turtle soup was good but lacked the zing it sometimes has. Omni forgot to mention that eyebrows seriously disliked his seafood gumbo. I'm not sure if this is just because he is very picky about the way he likes it or that it wasnt very good... I didnt taste it and have never ordered it.

 

I love the elk chops and this is where the insight of others comes in. I tend to like sweetish sauces and never really thought about it being sweet or fruity. It is... I should alert people about that in the future. Same with the parm. crust. It works for me but may not for others. Ginny's steak was their blackened shell steak, which isnt very spicy but does have a little kick. Again, they serve a seriously sweet apple chutney with it that Omni might not have tasted and probably would have ocassioned comment if she did. My buffalo rib-eye sits in a bourbon sauce that isnt as sweet as the elk but is definitely a factor in the taste. It was particularly good that night... the buffalo can be tough (the elk never is).

 

Bottom line: every neighborhood should have one of these places but most dont. I see it the way I see Blue Ribbon in Park Slope/Village, but I like it much more. It's a very deep menu with at least 20-25 entree choices at all times so I think that, with a little practice, there's stuff there for almost anyone to get addicted to. And the space is always upbeat, warm, friendly but professional, so it's easy to be comfortable even if you're not there as regularly as us. The wine list runs for pages and there are 5 whites/5 reds always available by the glass... be forewarned that it's all domestic. The apple cobbler w/caio bella ice cream aint bad either.

 

With glasses of white wine to start, 4 apps., 4 entrees (game = most expensive items on menu), a bottle of Newton Claret, one dessert (+2-3 others comped), a couple of coffees, tax/tip, it was $140/couple. Very reasonable.

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Oh yeah, the seafood gumbo. I tasted it. I didn't think it was so terrible, but I also wouldn't describe it as good. The whole thing was sort of muddy, with a good amount of heat but not a lot of seafood or seafood taste. Eyebrows loves gumbo, so the bar is set high for him - it was probably not the smartest thing for him to order.

 

I'd stick with steak, fried chicken, meatloaf...stuff like that. And again, I'd be thrilled to have this in my neighorhood.

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This has convinced me that the next time we go to a concert at the Barge, we have to stop here for dinner as an alternative to Noodle Pudding. (Forget about pizza at Grimaldi's; once was enough.) Thanks, all. :angry:

 

Grimaldi's sucks. I take a lot of crap for regularly saying that and bursting balloons on Chowhounds. 5 Front is good and almost next door to Bargemusic... but you probably already know that. We're at Noodle Pudding more often than even Henry's End. We love that too (great liver w/onions; nice pastas, and a line caught Montauk sea bass that's always meaty and fresh). Henry's End and Noodle Pudding are a great one two punch on that block.

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Henry's End was a dependable choice when I lived at the Eagle Warehouse in BH...that was in 1986-91...has it changed hands or is it the same set of owners. Great staying power. that is truely one neighborhood that will always be very special to me...maybe because the boys were born there, that idyllic time of play groups and strollers and days in the park. I seriously need to visit.

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Henry's End was a dependable choice when I lived at the Eagle Warehouse in BH...that was in 1986-91...has it changed hands or is it the same set of owners. Great staying power. that is truely one neighborhood that will always be very special to me...maybe because the boys were born there, that idyllic time of play groups and strollers and days in the park. I seriously need to visit.

 

Not the same "set" of owners, as Gary has been in California for years and Harvey doesnt seem to have an interest any longer. But Mark is still the basic owner and chef & remembers you. And, of course, Bonnie's still there as well. :angry:

 

Come visit.

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