Into Shelley’s Belly: Henry’s Tavern

The signage (left); ambience (right) photos by Matthew Shelley

We all have that friend, the absurdly athletic, easy going good man who lets nothing shake his handsome feathers. He knows how to prepare duck a l’orange or a roast beef sandwich on rye. He smokes cigars but doesn’t inhale, and he knows who Arthur Rimbaud is. He also possesses a keen ability to construct objects from wood, hammer nails, and comfort a woman. Well, Plano has a new candidate to fill the shoes of said friend, and its name is Henry’s Tavern. Henry’s Tavern’s was born in Portland, Oregon; a place Dallas would be wise to consider tailoring its style towards… just, you know, a little.

Jump for some fun.

The dark and stormy cucumber-spiced martini (left); habanero-peach margarita (right)

As a media guest, I embarked on a tasting journey of every menu item, and on my way I noticed they have 100 taps available. Even the most discerning brew hound will sweat at the sight of such a magnificent array of suds. Ok, Henry, I am starting to think we have a future. They also make some well-crafted cocktails that are mixed with care. I especially enjoyed the cucumber cocktail and the spicy margarita with a bit of peach to offset the traditional margarita tartness of lemon and lime. The impressive scratch menu, as the chef calls it, continues the fruitful fall into these masculine arms of this man cave enchantment. I’ll not bandy about any longer. Here we go into the belly.

Prawns, beef, chicken

Everything on the menu is made in house, as the previously mentioned scratch menu would imply. There are some items that still need some tenderness and love, but there are also many that unsheathe my tongue from its holster to lay down some smack. The twisted soft pretzels were hearty, but not especially fantastic. They were a little chewy and the sauce was struggling with an identity crisis. The spicy ahi tuna roll had a good amount of kick, but again, was nothing I remember in my dreams. The country fried wings on a cheddar and chive waffle with maple syrup and ranch was a playful crunchy dance, but the star of the appetizers was the no-bean chili with corn bread. I often prefer larger chunks of meat in my chili, but this delicate little meat soup was a surprisingly bold dish, and the cornbread, which is made with cream corn to make it oh-so-moist, was effing tremendous.  I doubled down on this one. Of the entrees – the stand outs were the pizzas, which were light, crispy, topped with goodness, and had the feel of rustic non-sauciness; the smoked rib eye, which was extremely virile, tender, and accompanied by a beautifully sauced jalapeno cheddar potato cake; and the stuffed burger, which was magnificently cooked, freshly supplied, and savory at all ends. My favorite dish, though, which even surprises me, was the kung pao prawns. They were juicy and delicate with lovely little veggies and simple white rice. I was taken aback at first taste and then wiped down my mouth after I finished the plate.

Pretzels (left); chili (right)

The final punch came from the handmade ice cream sandwich. With fresh baked chocolate cake, this little slugger was a deluge of sweetness perfectly set to cleanse the palette. Henry’s tavern is a man paradise. It provides the go-to spot for game watching and if you’re lucky enough to have a lady with you, she won’t feel left out in the rain when it comes to the menu.  With all its manly charm, the tavern is still a sleek, modern place that is surely lady friendly. Plano men, you may consider yourselves lucky.

Three little pigs artisan sandwich (left); Hank’s stuffed burger (right)
The handmade ice cream sandwich, in your face
Truffled ‘shrooms pizza with soft egg (left); Mesquite smoked BBQ swine (right)