Like the cocktails it serves at its dueling bars, Henry’s Majestic has a complicated formula with many moving parts that come together to work in unexpected harmony.
This restaurant-bar takes up residence in one of Dallas’ most notoriously jinxed spots, most recently home to Acme Social Club and Acme F&B, and before that, a revolving door of tenants that came and went.
Acme did much to dispel the location’s bad juju by giving it a sweeping makeover, a gift that Henry’s has inherited and done little to alter. The interior is still lined with warm, blocky woods, and a fireplace in the center of the restaurant still serves as a divider between dining room and back bar.
Those woods help dampen the volume when the bar is full, which is frequent. Thanks to good timing and a not-too-shabby cocktail program featuring on-trend techniques such as drinking vinegars and prices topping out at $10, Henry’s has earned a berth in Dallas’ mixology scene, drawing drinkers and bartenders alike.
That doesn’t even get into the heavy-hitter team that owns and runs the place. They include Cindy and Jim Hughes, of Bread Winners and The Quarter; Cindy’s son Andrew Popp; Bread Winners’ chef Adam Kovac; and Rosanne “Roe” DiLeo, who got her 15 minutes as a contestant on Season 13 of Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen.
The partnership is inspired. Opening another branch of Bread Winners so close to the one on McKinney Avenue wouldn’t have made sense. The Hugheses and company get to contribute their vast operational expertise, and DiLeo gets to inject a little edge and spice.
The food feels a little like glorified bar grub, with shared plates such as street tacos ($9) and maple-bourbon meatballs ($10), but done well. Roasted mushroom arancini ($8) — stuffed rice balls — were a good example. They came nine to the order, each the size of a ping-pong ball, arranged in a circle over a thin pool of creamy white sauce, casually littered with long shavings of Parmesan cheese.
The arancini had a golden, shaggy coating that enclosed a solidly packed center of cooked rice, held firm with melted Parmesan cheese and studded with shreds of mushroom and red pepper. They were hearty, crunchy and hot — just the thing to accompany one of Henry’s craft beers on tap.
The menu is wisely composed, with a high-low mix of aspirational items ranging from trout for $18 to an $11 Reuben sandwich. You can get out of here for not much money.
One of the signature items has become the burger ($12), a rich and delectably flavorful specimen, thanks to an ingredient list that included well-marbled Akaushi beef and a layer of flavorful marrow, tucked beneath a cap of creamy aged cheddar. The bun was an eggy brioche, toasted on the grill. Strips of bacon were ultra-crisp, and there were caramelized onions in there, too.
“How do you want it cooked — medium rare?” the waiter asked, as if there were no other answer; and that’s how it came, with blackened edges and a pink-red center.
The burger came with house-made potato chips, slightly thick, and a small but appreciated arugula salad on the side.
Henry’s also wades unflinchingly into the realm of pho ($12) and does this homey soup proud, taking an upscale yet traditional approach. The broth was dark and almost sweet, with a hit of clove. Floating along with a raft of pale white noodles was a variety of cuts of meat including thick chunks of brisket and thin, rare strips of filet. Served on the side was a collection of herbs, fresh lime, red chili paste and a half boiled egg, all to be added according to the diner’s taste.
The only dish that didn’t win us over was the oysters Majestic ($12), a signature item with four oysters on the half shell topped with pancetta and kimchi butter. That sounds like a neat twist, but the pancetta was more like undercooked bacon, and the kimchi butter added an odd saltiness. Dessert wasn’t a favorite, either; a chocolate dessert ($8) that the server described as mud pie was just a mini Bundt cake with a small scoop of overly crystallized lavender ice cream.
One area where Henry’s — named for a family dog — has enjoyed big success is with its weekend brunch, with new favorites such as grilled bread topped with olive oil and avocado ($8) and classics like chicken and waffles. Bread Winners regularly wins awards for its brunch, making one area where Henry’s is a chip off the old block.