Thursday, February 17, 2011

Restaurant review: Bistro Henry, Manchester, VT

Each winter, my husband and I take at least one trip to Stratton to ski. Over the years we've tried a number of restaurants in the area. We had a few favorites but for some reason, last year most of them disappointed us. So when we went up this year, we wanted to try some new places. Good thing we did, because now we have a new favorite.

We've passed Bistro Henry a zillion times. It's right on the road to the mountain and we've looked at the menu but for some reason never went. We finally decided to give it a go on a Friday night a couple weeks ago. We made a reservation and were promptly seated by the host (who was also the sommelier). The dining room has a quaint, country look and feel - warm and cozy on a cold winter night.

The menu offers lots of classic French dishes along with a few oddities like Szechuan pork dumplings and tuna with pad Thai noodles. We stuck with the French food (but a guy at the table next to us was raving about the tuna.)

I chose the two items on the menu that they seemed very confident about, some might even say a little cocky. I started with "Our really, really, good lobster bisque, really." I wondered if it would live up to their boasting. You know what? It was better than really really good. It was the best lobster bisque I've ever had. Ever. Chunks of moist lobster in a creamy bisque that tasted like... LOBSTER!

For dinner I chose "Duck our way." I thought it was an interesting name because what if I didn't like duck their way? What if I wanted it my way? The description of the dish is as boastful as that of the bisque: "Medium rare breast & crispy leg, green peppercorn sauce. The best. No kidding." The duck was cooked perfectly - per-fect-ly. Crispy skin, fat rendered just right. My only issue was I would have liked just a little more bite in the green peppercorn sauce.

Jeff started with scallops - his favorite. They were served with apples, apple cider beurre blanc and crunchy fried onions. I took a bite and they were excellent, even if I'm not big on scallops.

For dinner, he had grilled veal tournedos with mushroom sauce and truffle butter. Like my duck, it was perfectly cooked and it had all that delicious richness that anything with mushrooms and truffles should.

The restaurant has a nice wine list with bottles across a wide range of prices. The sommelier is friendly and knowledgeable - he recommended a bottle for us and we loved it.

During the meal only one thing really bugged me. And it happened in the bathroom (don't worry! keep reading!) In every stall and on the mirrors, there was a flyer. It talked about a bad review they'd received and how you shouldn't listen to it and how you should tell your friends if you like them. It was written by a guy named Justin... 10 years ago!

So I get that bad reviews can hurt a restaurant. Especially one that turns up high in search results. But Bistro Henry is good - really good. And most of the other reviews I've seen online say so. We will go back - probably every year when we're at Stratton. So my only comment to Bistro Henry: Forget Justin. Your food is good - really good. I'll tell my friends. I'll come back. Let the confidence you show on your menu shine through and Justin won't matter.

Bistro Henry on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I live in Manchester and I agree with you 100%. The food is exceptional. Never had a bad experience. We especially like the "Nines". Its has been featured on Thursday nights and for nine dollars you can get tasting plates to keep or share of different menu items and specials.

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