Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cafe Henri

Perhaps I was feeling nostalgic because just a year ago I was living it up in the beautiful City of Lights, but the idea of French food seemed tre fantastique last night. Though French food isn't known for being particularly veg friendly, it wasn't going to stop me from visiting LIC fave, Cafe Henri, on 50th Avenue. Known for their variety of crepes, and apparently the best brunch in this part of Queens, I was certain there would be at least a couple vegetarian options.

And sure, there are a couple veggie options- some salads, a hard boiled egg sandwich, a cheese plate, and a ratatouille crepe and a goat cheese-mushroom crepe. Vegans, you're up le sheet's creek without a paddle. And vegetarians, be warned, there's a "no substitutions" disclaimer on the menu by the sandwiches, so if you're like me and disdain the idea of hard boiled eggs on bread, you're stuck too if you want a sandwich. Cafe Henri has a tiny kitchen, but still, I can't see how a restaurant could be so inflexible.

En avant! We split a cheese plate to start- some type of pungent blue, a creamy and mild brie, some rather average thin slices of gruyere, and a chunk of unsalted mozzarella, along with some grapes, mint, tiny diced tomatoes, and chopped walnuts. I thought it was strange that our waitress didn't tell us what cheeses we were served and that it wasn't listed on the menu. Hmm. With a so-so variety of cheese, I guess I can imagine why.

The ratatouille crepe I ordered more than made up for everything else. Both the crepe and the ratatouille were hearty and perfectly satisfying- this must be the French answer to American comfort food like mac & cheese. Cafe Henri's ratatouille is less sweet, and more herbal- the flavor of the parsley and thyme really came through- and the crepe was just slightly crisp at the edges. With the crepe and a side salad, I was surprisingly full before the end of dinner, and unfortunately, did not sample some of the lovely sounding dessert offerings, like a classic chocolate souffle.

If I compare the food at Cafe Henri to a quaint cafe outside the Lourve, then the decor is more like funky St. Germain in style. Bright blue door and window frames with funky orange-gold-ish brushed walls, and more traditional looking bistro tables and chairs, I can see how one could easily lose a few hours sipping a glass of sancerre, and watching the, um, scenery of 50th Avenue. Either way, for a little taste of Paris, I'll visit Cafe Henri again for their famed brunch. French toast anyone?

Cafe Henri, 10-10 50th Avenue, between Vernon & Jackson Aves, LIC, 718-383-9315

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