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Dinner at Henry's is the best meal we've had all year

We check out Henry's, a very special wine bar and shop that offers a selection of rare vino and a seasonal menu of inventive and delicious small plates.

Henry's: What's the vibe

If you find yourself in the Trinity Bellwoods area, you might have noticed a new spot beyond the sliding doors at 922 Queen Street West. Take a peek inside and you’ll find not only a charming restaurant-cum-wine bar but also a bottle shop and private dining space.

Previously home to longstanding Spanish restaurant Carmen and Argentinian spot Tanto, the space has been reimagined as a sleek and airy destination for rare wines and fantastically creative small plates of seasonal fare.

Henry’s is the brainchild of Roxanne and Ben Hodson, effortlessly cool partners in life and now in business who, outside of this venture, own an events company and wine agency respectively (adopt us?). They knew they wanted to sell wine in some capacity and after much consideration — and since the AGCO requires that bottle shops sell food — they landed on this concept. “We thought about making it a sandwich shop, but that just seemed like a waste of a beautiful space,” says Ben.

Henry's: What's on the menu

White walls, chic minimal light fixtures and gold-green banquettes make this a laid-back place to grab a glass of something international and delicious, but Henry’s’ modest, unfussy nature also means that the food has nowhere to hide. Luckily for our rumbling bellies, it more than delivers.

Chef Kevin Le might be young, but his resume (Noma, Canis, Frilu) is as sophisticated and layered as his menu of creative plates. From mind-bending vegan ceviche dishes that’ll have you scratching your head and licking your plate to a Vietnamese-inspired beef tartare that gelatinizes a phở broth and presents itself as a delicate tart, it’s artful but, importantly, it just tastes really, really good.

With less than 20 items, you can make a dent in Le’s globally inspired menu of sharing plates. Though his cooking background skews Nordic-Japanese, you definitely won’t want to miss the pasta made in-house every day. I tried the tortelli served with corn, leek and a miso sauce which I had to be physically restrained from wiping up with my finger.

Henry's: What else

Slip behind the velvet curtain next to the bar and you’ll find the Wine Shop. With a central table that can seat 10-14 guests for private events and tastings and walls flanked with rare and beautiful international bottles, the room turns me into an emoji with hearts for eyes.

Henry's wine bar | The wine shop and private dining space

As you would expect, wine is a huge focus here. Ben, who heads up wine agency Brix and Mortar, leads the program and aims to rotate the wine list every 7-10 days. Henry's is also able to get its hands on some rare bottles: Don't be surprised if you're one of the few Canadians to try a unique bottle of red from Burgundy, for example. As a result, every visit is a little different — but make sure you grab a glass (or bottle to take home) while you have the chance. “The philosophy is that we want the room to be cozy, but the wine list is evolved.”

Dinner and drinks for two: around $150

922 Queen St. W., henrystoronto.ca

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