Henry Lee’s is one polished establishment. Through the iron gate and past the kitchen with irresistible smells emanating from within, lies a sun-bathed courtyard with enough shade and comfortable seating to keep you entertained for hours.
HL’s was opened in May 2016 byt Aaron and Katherine Devaney and the name comes from the Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds song of the same name. Together with general manager Matt Richardson and head chef Nalini Bettweiser (from Barrio Chino), they developed the interior as a “destination and creative hub for both the residents in the building as well as the local community.”
There’s a lot of talent from the central coast; Aaron and Katherine previously ran bakery Green Tangerine while Matt gained experience at Rojo Rocket and The Glass Onion Society.
Having extremely friendly waitstaff helps as well. Every interaction that my guests and I had with them showed that they have personality and are extremely friendly. The staff were attentive too and it all helped to improve the atmosphere.
Coffee ($3.80) by Little Marionette’s blend, 7 Sanchez. Aaron and Katherine used the brand for Green Tangerine so it was an obvious choice for their new venture. Each cup was more delicious than the last with superb depth and tones.
There’s also a special guest blend: Proud Mary’s (Melbourne) Angel wings. They know their coffee here and you’ll appreciate it. Affogatos ($8) come with a scoop of Serendipity ice cream in the flavour of the week or you can choose iced coffee (served over ice with ice cream milk and Urban Beehive Redfern honey ($7) among others. The beverage list is massive so explore and enjoy.
Two smoothies ($7) are on offer and we sampled them both. The blueberry bang contains blueberries, milk, Greek yoghurt, ice, mint and Urbran Beehive Redfern honey. While the consistency and presentation were great, the flavour was overwhelmingly of mint and not enough of the blueberries. The na-na smoothie on the other hand was fantastic on all fronts. Thrown into the mix was crunchy peanut butter and a decent amount of cinnamon. Spot-on in terms of flavour and delicious banana hit!
The dishes on the menu all attempt to promote sustainability, be seasonal and look beautiful. It was immediately apparent that a huge amount of pride is taken in the entire experience at HL’s. The menu changes every three months but right now there are some very special things to try.
One of my guests ordered the Polly Jean ($19). I didn’t get to taste much of it as she was too busy enjoying to share it with me! The centrepiece of the dish is beetroot and Poor Tom’s gin cured salmon. The beautiful sunset colours looked stunning on the plate and the succulent slices melted in the mouth. Served on the side you’ll find a poached egg, hazelnut dukkah, beetroot puree, fennel, apple, radish and labnneh. The mix of subtle and strong flavours actually worked making this dish a great way for the kitchen show off their knowledge of flavours.
The Warren ($21) is like a deconstructed hash; a harmony of savoury flavours from seasoned potatoes, chorizo, fresh tomato, house pickled fennel, aioli and poached eggs. Once again, the presentation ensured that we had a smile on our faces before even trying the dish. Each element had been prepared with care and this is a meal that I would definitely order again.
I selected the Higgs bacon blues burger ($16) and it was easily my favourite bacon and egg roll that I’ve tried for a long time. Hugely generous slices of organic free range bacon first caught my eye but the hint of maple topped it off! Add some coffee-infused bacon jam (okay that’s pretty hipster but give it a try) and a poached egg and you have an outstanding bacon and egg roll that goes above and beyond. But add smoked paprika, kohirabi remoulade (best described as a chunky mayonnaise to the uninitiated) and cucumber pickle and you’re in flavour heaven. It was soft, crunchy, smokey, sweet and well seasoned. The brioche roll was amazing as were all of the other baked goods that we tried, they were truly additions to the plates and not simply toast on the side.
Other dishes that we didn’t try include Henry’s dream (sourdough topped with house pesto, avocado, heirloom tomato, pickled radish, lemon zest, whipped ricotta and hazelnut dukkah, $18), Club Veg Paradiso (organic grain, seed and nut salad served with pumpkin sourdough, roast mushroom, avocado, artichoke puree, marinated Danish feta, hummus, soft egg, kale and pink grapefruit, $20), kicking against the chicks (sesame karaage chicken burger with Sriracha coleslaw and Kewpie mayonnaise served on a black brioche roll, $16) and many more!
My guests and I uncovered something special when we visited Henry Lee’s. It’s a polished establishment with a clear, defined purpose to serve sustainable dishes with panache and contemporary flair in beautiful surroundings. The team behind it has something to be proud of and SoS will definitely be back.
Overall Rating: 23/25
Address: 16 Eveleigh Street, Redfern
Payment Options: Credit card, EFTPOS, cash