The effortlessly relaxed décor of this Saville Row restaurant reveals little about the style of the food, which is both full of contrasts and entirely captivating
The secret’s out. We’ve been hearing great things about Henry’s restaurant for months now, and not least from The Guardian’s restaurant critic Jay Rayner, who declared it: “A thoroughly lovely expression of the owner”. Unassuming and laid-back, Henry’s feels like one of those hidden gems that flies under the radar to everyone except those in-the-know.
A palette of calming greys, pale yellow and white set against stripped-back original floorboards and simple wooden tables dotted with chic posies offers a wonderfully relaxed backdrop for lunch or dinner. And the light flooding in through the windows only enhances the perfectly Instagrammable setting.
The menus are short, heavily seasonal, and, refreshingly, there’s a fully vegetarian menu of equal stature alongside the regular one, so we decide to mix and match between the two. We’re sad to see there’s no vegetable brûlée on the day we visit – a bit of a Henry Scott signature – but the likes of chocolate tart with Sichuan custard and kalettes suggest a chef who’s not afraid to do things his own way.
Confit duck ravioli with savoy cabbage and sweet pickled ginger
Kalettes with homemade sauerkraut and herb emulsion
With an impressive culinary career to date that started at the Bath Priory via Sydney and back to Claude Bosi’s notoriously tough two-Michelin star Hibiscus, before stints at three Michelin-star Flocons de Sel, Belgium’s outré In de Wulf and Bath’s very own Allium, Henry always knew he wanted to open his own restaurant in Bath. After 10 years of hard graft in some of the best kitchens in the world, he’s finally made that dream a reality – you have to admire his commitment.
Though Henry describes his food as flavour led, rather than aesthetics led, you’d be hard pushed to believe him as the elegant dishes arrive. A confit duck ravioli starter sees one perfectly formed pasta round sitting atop a verdant savoy cabbage sauce. The meltingly-tender duck is seasoned to perfection while the gently pickled cucumber and sweet ginger provide the ideal acidic counterbalance to cut through the richness. It’s gone in three bites. Over the other side of the table, the kalettes – somehow leafier than we’re expecting – come on top of a generous bed of gently piquant sauerkraut and a punchy flavour-packed herb emulsion. Henry is firm that it’s not fine dining, and instead more of a Tuesday or a Wednesday night place, but it is damn fine food.
It’s all going so well, until an ill-judged decision to be virtuous and order the cauliflower main. Sure, it’s charry and plentiful, accompanied by sweet golden beets, bok choy and an intense black garlic and herby purée, but there’s instant food envy as the cod is clocked. Roasted, perfectly flaking and accompanied with pillowy smoked mash, mushroom purée, caramelised salsify, deliciously soft, salty Fowey estuary mussels and finished with a flourish of fried cod skin, it’s exactly the sort of comforting dish you might crave on a biting spring day, or indeed any day. Happily, we make a deal to trade our mains midway and normality resumes.
Nearly defeated by the idea of dessert, we eschew the famed chocolate tart in favour of the seemingly lighter option of vanilla panna cotta. Topped with a shard of sugar and served with a still-warm homemade doughnut, it’s a super sweet combo until you dip your spoon in the eye-popping passion fruit sauce – it makes us wince and smile – before we go back in for more. It’s a clever, brilliantly balanced dessert and the panna cotta element is silky soft and moreish.
Service throughout is friendly, knowledgeable and though, most unusually, we trade wine for water on this particular occasion, the drinks list is well-considered and reasonably priced, with plenty of options from Grüner Veltliner to organic chianti, available by the glass.
It’s very clear that Henry Scott is an inherently talented chef who knows his own mind and is quietly going about his business of putting Bath firmly on the culinary map. Once you know, you know, but we’re still left kicking ourselves that we hadn’t discovered the secret sooner.