Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Henry’s: A Remembrance

The first great meal I ever had was at a little place called Henry’s in Bridgehampton, in August of 1999. The restaurant was headed by Paul Del Favero, who had just left Nick and Toni’s to open his own place.

Seven years later I still remember most of the meal, though some of the details have faded away. I had a wonderful mussel soup appetizer and for an entrée, a baby beet salad with quail and foie gras. I was not fond of beets (and still am not), but I ordered the dish because I wanted to try foie gras. The piece of foie gras that I got was a bit small, not much bigger than a quarter, really. But it was great—seared (almost over cooked) on the outside, melting and rich on the inside.

My—then new—wife had a sampler of different pâtés. She hated most of them. It was really funny how much. For an entrée she had a “Delmonico” steak, I believe, which came with a side of marrow in the bone. She loved the steak, wouldn’t touch the marrow. I don’t remember if I did.

I don’t quite recall the desserts. I vaguely remember a crème brulee for myself, something with lemon for my wife.

One highlight of the meal was that my wife kept ordering drinks, didn’t like any of them, and kept giving them to me. I recall a Long Island Iced Tea and at least one glass of wine. I know there were others. I was so inexperienced with food then. When the waiter asked if we wanted any cocktails before dinner, I asked “What do you have?” What a dope.

Henry’s is no longer there. I forget what it is now. I pass by the location, every now and then. I think the place has changed hands a number of times since we were there. Paul Del Favero left at least by 2001 and is now with Bobby Flay at Mesa Las Vegas.

As I said, I don’t like beets. But I did that night. The experience was so great, so much fun, that I enjoyed everything. It was our first time at a good restaurant, my first time for foie gras, lots of drinks, and we were just starting out on our marriage. It is the one meal I’d like to relive, if I could. If I ever meet Del Favero I want to tell him what his restaurant meant to me.

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