100 Austin Burgers: Henri’s
Lunch: 11am-2pm Mon-Fri. Brunch: 11am-3pm Sat-Sun.
Dinner: 5pm-close Mon-Sat.
April 2016 UPDATE: Henri's suffered a fire April 6 and will be closed until repairs are made. Here's their Facebook message.
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 03.16.16
Henri’s opened primarily as a cheese shop in 2012, then evolved quickly into a spot for wine and light lunches. And then its cheeseburger parlayed a weeknight cameo into a regular gig, landing this bistro of bubbles, flowers and cheeseboards in a 100 Burgers series alongside diners, lunch counters and drive-through windows.
► Henri’s Burger: The two-year cheddar on this two-handed beast is a star in its own right: salty, sharp, as smooth and even as a silk scarf. But the beef it serves rests comfortably in the same rarefied class. It’s juicy and firm, with a tight grain that stands tall enough to support shades of seared elegance, from the mahogany crust to the smoked marble mantle to the coral-hearted core. Henri’s drives home the point with sour-sweet pickled onions, bread-and-butter pickles, Bibb lettuce and good tomatoes. A soft, toasted Easy Tiger roll with grain mustard and aioli makes this burger stand out like a longshoreman at a charity gala. But somehow it still fits in. The price you pay in this genteel environment? Bad kitchen ventilation leaves burger smoke hanging like Beijing haze over the dining room. ($15 with chips or an excellent side salad with mixed greens, radish, pickled onion, fragrant cheese and vinaigrette. $10 on Monday nights.)
► On the side: A board with two cheeses, one meat and condiments like jam, mustard and nuts is $15. But I’ll trade that for a board that puts cheese in a more traditional role: dessert. Ask nicely, and the staff will put together its “Brachetto & Brie” board from the dinner menu even at lunch. It’s a neat row of rich goat’s-milk chocolate tiles, some candied nuts, fragrant local honey, crusty baguette and a wedge of Brie Chatelain from France that’s both lush and delicate. The sweet Italian sparkling ruby wine brachetto is a perfect pairing. Except when they run out. In that case, Bouvet Brut Rosé — with a sharp sparkle and stonefruit blush — is a South Austin suav-ay finish to a fine cheeseburger lunch.
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(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)