The monopoly tycoons of the 19th century traditionally did their wheeling and dealing at exclusive restaurants, cleverly concealing the fact that they still lived with their parents. Today’s Groupon lets you dine like those shrewd, long-lost captains of industry: for $20, you get $40 worth of upscale French and Cuban fusion cuisine at Chez Henri, located in Cambridge a few blocks from Harvard Square.
A modern French restaurant with a Latin twist, Chez Henri offers an inventive menu of gourmet sandwiches courtesy of Chef Paul O’Connell. Get your taste buds’ attention without licking a TV screen by starting with sopa de ajo verde ($11)—a green garlic soup with stinging nettles, crème fraiche, and serrano ham—or Duxbury oysters on the half shell ($15) served with a cucumber-lime mignonette. The entrees continue the mouth-moistening menagerie of gourmet ingredients with the apple-wood-smoked rainbow trout’s ($27) combination of green-apple nage and celeriac puree, and the Latin vegetable torta ($29) flings huevos manchego, spaghetti squash, and roasted calabaza into the brawny arms of romesco verde and spiced pepitas. Finally, sweeten your bitter, sarcastic teeth with a decadent dessert, such as a plate of artisanal cheeses served with fruit and toasted nuts or a banana tart with a macadamia-nut crust, vanilla crème, toasted coconut, and dark chocolate. All desserts are $9.
At once upscale yet casual, like a tuxedo made of Hawaiian shirts, Chez Henri’s sky-lit dining room, warm lighting, and cheery paintings make it a chic late-night stop for bar fare such as the pressed cuban sandwich ($14), served with a choice of traditional slow-roasted pork or roasted vegetables with cheese. Reservations are highly suggested but not required.
Groupon not valid toward restaurant-week menu.
Chez Henri has received extensive local and national press, including mentions in the New York Times and the Boston Globe. O magazine named it a Foodie’s Choice in Boston, and Food & Wine named it a Best Deal in Boston. Head chef Paul O’Connell has been featured on both Good Morning America and The Early Show. The restaurant has been a consistent winner in Boston magazine’s Best of Boston, including Best Fusion in 2001, Best Bar Food in 2003, Best First Date Restaurant in 2004, Best Neighborhood Restaurant for Porter Square in 2005, and Best Mojito in 2006. Zagat gives Chez Henri’s food a 24. More than 150 OpenTable reviewers give it an average of four stars, as do 149 Yelpers.
> * Chez Henri’s pressed Cuban sandwich is the best we’ve found, especially when combined with a minty rum mojito in a bar scene that’s paradoxically both hip and unpretentious. – Boston
> * The bouillabase [sic] was perhaps the best I have had - rich in flavor and not overwhelming in its size. – An OpenTable reviewer who dined on 04/22/2010
> * The perfect date night restaurant. If this food doesn’t get you a dazzling kiss…well, don’t blame the chef. – Aine F., Yelp
Inside Chez Henri, owner and chef Paul O’Connell draws on his training at Johnson & Wales University to add Caribbean flourishes to classic French fare, earning his restaurant press accolades and seven Best of Boston awards. Appetizers include braised wild-boar sausage served over cabbage escabeche, and the pan-seared flounder entree arrives with house-made chorizo and West Indian spices. Wash down international flavors with signature cocktails and spirits or a pitcher of fruity sangria from the full bar.
Inside Chez Henri’s simply decorated dining room, handblown glass lighting illuminates warmly colored walls, and huge windows proffer views of the bustling streets between Harvard and Porter Squares. Paul and his staff also transport their delicate fare to catered events of up to 400 people, such as weddings, graduations, or the shared birthday of an NFL team made by cloning Joe Montana.