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. Dine like those shrewd, long-lost captains of industry with today's Groupon: for $20, you get $40 worth of French and Latin fusion cuisine at Chez Henri in Cambridge.
Led by Chef Paul O'Connell, the staff at Chez Henri delivers a menu that artfully meshes French and Latin cuisines. A selection of appetizers inaugurate cross-Atlantic culinary excursions, such as the honduran ceviche with coconut and hearts of palm ($14), or local New England oysters on the half-shell, soaked in mignonette and tomatillo salsa ($15), ideal for making makeshift castanets to woo aphrodisiac-laden dates. A drizzle of basil aioli inspires taste buds to dance atop a seared cod steak, which rests on a savory bed of provençal tomato-lobster fricassee ($32). Panko-breaded côtelettes of Quebec veal simmer on an escarole salad of mushrooms, artichokes, and baby Yukon Gold potatoes ($26). Elaborate desserts ($9 each) serve as sweet dinnercaps, such as the banana tart, whose macadamia-nut crust is packed with vanilla crème, toasted coconut, and dark chocolate
Generous seating, warm lighting, and wood-paneled walls establish a comfortable bistro-like atmosphere for dining and conversation. On warm summer nights, the restaurant's expansive storefront windows swing open to provide a cool breeze and taunt avian gourmands with the rich aroma of fine cuisine.
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.