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The Early Word on Wine Lovers' Favorite, Bar Henry

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Early last month Winston and Carole Kulok (Café Henri, Great Jones Café) opened the doors of Bar Henry, their new project in the former Zinc Bar space. The subterranean locale, like so many places that have popped up around town of late, is meant to evoke old New York (disregard the neon signage). The real draw here is a half bottle wine program devised by John Slover, but there are also plenty of cocktails and a full food menu made up of simple items that skew toward the heavy. There's near unanimous love for what Slover has put together, but comments are mixed when it comes to the food. To the early word:

The Good News: A Yelper and his girlfriend enjoy: "Have tried 3 items on the menu here: chicken, pork chop & burger. The chicken was satisfactory (my girlfriend gave me a bite)--I never order chicken when I go out...but it was cooked well, skin crispy. I had the burger...I was very specific about how I wanted it, exactly medium, and that's how it came, good job and it really was delicious. The pork chop looked good, nicely cooked and pretty with nice browning on the outside. Standouts here are the wines. Cocktails were good, we tried a couple, and they were good, the bartender was a pro...but we were really eager to get to the wine list and explore. Good deal allowing us to get 1/2 bottles, which we did, good to share amongst the 3 of us...we got 3, all reds and all excellent." [Yelp]

The "Fair" News: After praising the service and the wine, another Yelper gets more critical about the pricing and quality of the kitchen offerings: "Apps started at about $10 and went up to about $17 and all were disappointingly miniscule. The chicken liver mousse was nothing more than a small quenelle with a few pieces of bread. The oysters were absolutely fresh but at $2.50 per piece, a bit hefty on the wallet. The Jamon Serrano was thick cut and delish, but we only got three tiny pieces. The be-deviled eggs were also well done, and simple... and again there were only three 1/2 eggs. Thank goodness we stayed away from the short rib and corn taco (because it said "taco" in singular). We split one burger (with its Pat LaFrieda beef we had to try) and it was fair but kinda unexciting and a bit overcooked. The fries were actually a generous portion of shoestring fries and truffle oil. These were very good and gone in 60 seconds. We got a free side of olives and almonds both of which were well... olives and almonds (though the almonds had some citrus zip to them) because they forgot our oysters and our ham. All in all it was a fair experience. Our waiter and his co-waiter seemed over-qualified for their jobs and were very good. I'd probably come back for drinks and maybe a couple of apps but I'm not sure I'd return hungry because I'd probably leave poor." [Yelp]

The Meh News: A less enthusiastic Eater commenter: "decor was decent, service ok but they are working out the kinks so will give them a pass. had a few apps which disappointed - the "serrano" jamon tasted like dry salami. hope the main courses are better." [EaterNY]

The Campanale Likey News: Joe Campanale, owner and beverage director of L'Artusi and dell'anima, tweets his approval: "Bar Henry is a great bar for wine geeks! They will crack open any wine on the list and let you order a half bottle. They list what's open." [Twitter]

The Bad News: There's no mention of the food, but a reader review on NYMag's listing for the restaurant has plenty harsh words about the wine service: "A group of 4 went for drinks and apps before dinner. When I walked out I said never again. As a self described wine bistro I would expect them to be more helpful with a better wine selection. Two of us described what we liked and the waitress and sommelier both recommended something on their “Market” board, which was 2 glasses for $46. It was nothing like what we wanted. When we ordered a second round the sommelier pressured us to buy an even more expensive half bottle. When the bill came the first “2 glasses” ordered were really $46 PER GLASS! This was protested since we were lead to believe it was for both glasses. The response was simply “sorry” and a cheap glass of champagne delivered. No class and no service." [NYMag]

The Amazing (Wine) News: The folks at Wine Chap give an extensive rundown of the wine program and explain why they love it so: "A forward-thinking wine list...We just can’t help glowing with excitement. After all, it isn’t everyday that a restaurant is willing to take a risk like this with 1/3 or more of their potential profit. Beyond [their] “market list,” Bar Henry sports a traditional, full-bottle-only reserve list that is nothing short of impressive in its vintage depth. The majority of the wines hail from the 90s, with a handful or more representing the decade of decadence (see: Motley Crüe). It goes long on Piedmont and Burgundy, with the Northern Rhone and Bordeaux close behind. If you aren’t already wondering how the hell they’ve done it, the selection of Bdx—all originating in either ’85, ’86, or ’89—will have you questioning whether or not a felony was committed in the acquisition of this collection. Quite simply one of most exciting lists to cross our desk in some time." [WineChap]

The "Don't Forget The Cocktails" News: NY Barfly stays away from the wine and decides to give bartender Patrick Costigan's drinks a try: "Even though the fancy European vinos are hogging the spotlight, their cocktail list is also due some attention...The drinks are named after interesting friends of the owner, who is apparently quite the charming raconteur. The Tom Newbold Morgan is a refreshing gin and tonic with the juice from half a lime. The Jay Lung is described as a “collision between a mojito and the classic Hemingway Daiquiri” and was nicely cut with some grapefruit and maraschino liqueur...What would our eponymous cocktail be? The Tiger Tail was our favorite drink of the bunch, but we wouldn’t want to change the feisty name of this bourbon, Benedictine, and ginger ale blend. Their Thera Miranda – a calvados spiked hot toddy - was choice for a cold night. Upon complaining that an Old Fashioned is just a glass full of Bourbon with some cherries in it, Costigan started muddling away and produced a libation that quickly shut us up. We’re pleased to announced that an Old Fashioned is now called NYBarfly Juice. Someone notify the producers of Mad Men." [NYBarfly]

The Twitterific News: Add @nedbenedict to the list of those won over by the wine: "great wines at bar henry tonight - 96 salon, 78 barolo elvio cogno, a perfect 91 cote rotie gentaz dervieux, 89 elio grasso, 97 valentini." [Twitter]
—Gabe Ulla

Bar Henry

90 W. Houston St., New York, NY