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“Bar Henry, by Guest Reviewer Kathleen Squires”

  Occasion: Cuisine: Area: Cost: Rating:
  Night Out New American West Village Moderate Good

“I know this great little place in the Village…” Once upon a time, it’ wasn’t unusual to overhear that phrase. It would be spoken by someone with a tip on a cool, clandestine joint. Somewhere that Don Draper’s beatnik girlfriend, Midge, might meet him on a night out, perhaps. A place that locals would keep afloat with their loyalty, and very few “squares” might ever stumble in, possibly. Nowadays, however, the culture of Yelping, Tweeting, Chowhounds make those insidery spots increasingly rare. Let’s face it: it’s near impossible that someone ever mentions a spot that no one’s ever heard of anymore.

But there’s a little basement spot on Houston Street that brings those days back, even if it isn’t so hard-to-find. Bar Henry is unobtrusive except for its neon signage. Down a flight of stairs, a long, narrow, brick-lined space welcomes with its old-fashioned bohemian charm, trimmed with a black-and-white Italian marble floor, brass chandeliers, a shiny copper ceiling and a mahogany bar that dates back to 1890s. Tipplers crowd around the antique bar, which dominates the front room, for keenly mixed cocktails like the Tiger Tail, a blend of bourbon, Benedictine, ginger ale and lemon juice ($12). But the real regulars are there for the wine list, 200 bottles precisely chosen by John Slover, who oenophiles know well from Blue Hill and Cru. It’s a taster’s paradise, highlighted by 12 wines by the glass ($7-$14), 22 half-bottles, and a program that offers the option to buy a half pouring of 100 full bottles off their “market” list.

The spot’s name, and the cluster upfront, might be a little misleading—for it is more than just a bar. A dining room awaits in back, decked out in plush red velvet banquet chairs, tulip lights and tablecloths dressing up the brick and wood surroundings.    

The menu is short and comforting, starting with a few throwbacks like a silken chicken liver mousse ($11) and “be-deviled” eggs, updated with a touch of truffle ($5). Here’s the inside track to ordering here: the chef is from Mexico, so dishes with Latin touches stand out. A short rib taco ($12), for example, was filled with a hearty mound of stewy, smoky meat, tender and well-tended too. A touch of crème fraiche balanced the tang and acid while adding an alluring creaminess to a refreshing gazpacho ($8) ... [more, click below]

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“don't forget Bar Henry's unique wine offerings”

I dined at Bar Henry's two weekends ago after reading out how they offer all their wines by the half bottle. This allows you to try more than one wine instead of ordering a bottle. We loved that option (also loved the taco app - yum!)

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