Sunday, August 07, 2011

Henrietta's Table (Manners)

Last night we ate at Henrietta's Table in Harvard Square. We've been there quite a few times; they do a great Sunday brunch buffet, and the regular menu involves comfort-food staples (roast chicken, pot roast) and local ingredients.

At my previous visit, for lunch with my friend Jean, she had a beautifully subtle chilled carrot and ginger soup, and I had a three-foot-high slice of the fluffiest quiche I've ever tasted.

Last night's visit started with salads. For The Boy, red oak leaf/fennel/Westfield Farm goat cheese/blackberry, flavors that sang together. Love the daring color scheme, too. Reminds me of my wardrobe.

Red oak leaf, goat cheese, fennel, blackberries

For me, watermelon/arugula/feta, with grilled red onion and a pleasantly tart cranberry vinaigrette:

Arugula, feta, watermelon salad

The cheese was lovely, and went salt-and-pepper with the arugula. But ... but. The watermelon was full of seeds, which wasn't cool; I spent too much time trying to spit them gracefully over The Boy's shoulder. And the salad greens included more than a few yellow-spotteds (you can just see one top-right in the above shot), which suggests someone wasn't paying close attention to what was going on the plate.

The mains were a good recovery, though. I went for striped bass with julienned Drumlin Farm cucumbers and — best invention evar — cheese-and-tomato mashed potato. Which, come fall comfort-food weather, I will crave fortnightly.

Bass with cheese-and-tomato potato

The Boy ordered smoked, roasted pork shoulder with pork sausage, beans and greens. It was a little too spicy for my still-baby tastebuds, but The Boy described it as "like Redbones, but fresher and better."

Pork and beans, Henrietta's Table

No problem there, right?

Well, not with the food. But yes with the fact that when our server initially took our order, which included cocktails and wine, he brought all the drinks out together.

So the wine sat and warmed up while we drank our martinis and ate the salad (a slight pause between gin and greens would have been nice, but hey). Apparently it didn't occur to the server that we didn't intend to double-fist our drinks. Sure, he didn't know we wanted the wine to go with our mains, but then again he didn't ask.

This isn't the first time I've felt that the service at Henrietta's Table is wonky. When Jean and I went for lunch, we were halfway through our apps when our entrées came out, leaving us to figure out whether to cram down the rest of one dish before the second got cold, or abandon the appetizer altogether.

Don't get me wrong; the servers aren't bad. They're friendly and positive and seem to be having a good time. So I don't know whether the issue is in the kitchen, or whether there's a breakdown in communication that means the staff isn't aware of who should be doing what.

I should go back a few more times to investigate. At least as long as they have strawberry-basil ice cream on the menu ...

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12:43 AM  

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