Lady Barbara Judge enjoys a lunchtime treat at Chef Ollie Dabbous’ new venture at Henrietta Hotel in Covent Garden.
I arrived with a great deal of expectation at Henrietta, as it has been well-reviewed already. The space was quite small and quirky, but we found a nice corner table where we could see the open kitchen as well as the other diners, and we were very pleased.
The restaurant is situated within Henrietta Hotel and therefore is open from Monday to Sunday for breakfast, lunch and dinner, so it is a good place to go on Sundays with guests from out of town. However, I dined there on a Saturday and Henrietta definitely ticked all the right boxes.
I was dining with my friend, Dr Catherine Boylan, a specialist on the First World War. We have often dined together in the past, and, on this occasion, we enjoyed the experience very much. I must say, however, that although she likes wine more than I do, and I like dessert more than she does, we both basically like food and often share everything between us.
The restaurant is overseen by Chef Ollie Dabbous, whose restaurant Dabbous in Marylebone was a huge success. I went there when it first opened, and was extremely impressed by his deftness with spices and presentation. He has brought with him to Henrietta the former head chef at Dabbous, Rob Tecwyn, who is carrying on the tradition of interesting and fun food.
For the starter, I ordered beef tartare with nasturtium and rye, and Catherine ordered burrata with wild strawberries, fennel pollen and tarragon. Each of these was interesting and different. The beef tartare could have almost been a main course, as the portion was as generous as it was flavourful, and a bit different from the norm. Catherine’s burrata salad was also delicious and looked as beautiful on the plate as it tasted. As I believe that beautiful food is an art form, this was a lovely picture.
For our main courses, I chose the slow-cooked saddleback pork with melted lardo and shards of Tropea onions that did not in any way overwhelm the simplicity of the pork, which was tender and moist. Catherine had the barbecued quail, which had been marinated before cooking and accompanied by toasted wheat, almonds and clover – really delicious.
Dessert, my absolute favourite course, was ice cream – one of the true pleasures in life – and soft blossom ice cream did it for me. We did share this as I knew that, unusually, I was booked to go to dinner that evening, and two good meals in one day is almost always too much of a good thing. In this case, however, I did manage to do both, and I knew that my scales the next day would tell the tale, but after all, it was Saturday, so I could diet on Sunday knowing that lunch had certainly been worth the calories.
henriettahotel.com / 020 3794 5314
Lady Barbara Judge is currently the Chair of the Institute of Directors and has held many posts across the corporate and charitable sector, including Chairman of the Pension Protection Fund, commissioner of the US Securities and Exchange Commission, and chairman of the UK Atomic Energy Authority. Lady Barbara has always had an abiding love for food, and her frequent international business travels have enabled her to indulge this passion in many top restaurants across the globe. Lady Barbara Judge pays all of her own expenses.