Hey hey, everybody! Summer is finally here, and Mastication Monologues has another new restaurant review hot off the presses. While it seems like I’ve been focusing a lot on fried chicken joints and burger stands lately, today’s post takes a turn for the more genteel in the form of brunch at M. Henry.
There are plenty of words that have entered the English language in the form of portmanteaus such as spork, frienemy, and the never-ending parade of celebrity couples like Brangelina, Kimye, and TomKat. However, “brunch” has been around a bit longer than these limelight hoggers, and frankly I think it has offered a lot more to the world than they have. Case in point, Punch magazine in England in 1895 first coined the term as a “Sunday meal for Saturday night carousers” that “Puts yourself in a good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow human beings, it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week.” Truer words have never been spoken, so I was led to M. Henry by Janice to see if their amazing brunch could do all of the above. It seemed like it could based on the 20 minute wait we had to endure to finally get a table in the back room. The interior of the establishment was tastefully decorated along with a full bakery section that greeted us complete with homemade granola, pies, and sweet rolls. So we sat down in the bustling backroom, and I got acquainted with the menu. If you love breakfast/brunch as much as I do, then you’ll need plenty of time to pour over the selection of mouth-watering options ranging from different egg dishes, bread based dishes, and tons of sides and vegan-friendly noms. We started our meal off with a half order of the out of this world bread pudding ($5.75 half/$6.95 full). Janice was over the moon about it, so I was curious to see if I’d be in orbit as well. It came out, and it looked unlike any bread pudding I’ve seen. The actual pudding was buried underneath a mountain of blood-red peach slices and plump raspberries. So I took a few spoonfuls of the fruit and some chunks of the vanilla brioche pudding. Upon eating it, I was greeted with a blast of rich vanilla flavor of the bread pudding along with the semi-sweet notes of the peaches. The raspberries also were fresh and slightly tart that provided a nice contrast to the mellow pudding, but the seeds were a bit of a pain. Although the ingredients were good, the presentation brought the entire dish down. The main sticking point for me was the fruit juice that all of the ingredients were swimming in. This caused the already soft bread pudding to become soggy. I don’t know if we went there for the senior early bird special since they were trying to soften up our food for our dentures, but I personally prefer my bread pudding to have a bit more fortitude than the delicious but mushy pudding they served us. If they served it on a plate with just a drizzling of the fruit juices, similar to other bread pudding recipes I’ve tried and seen, instead of a biblical flood, then it would be considerably better. Once finished, the waiter was back to take our order. After much deliberation, I settled for their acclaimed bliss cakes ($9.95) with a side of candied applewood bacon ($3.75), and Janice got the black bean cakes and huevos borrachos ($9.95). I was looking around at people eating bliss cakes in the dining room, and they looked like they were enjoying them greatly. So I was quite excited to tuck into them when they were finally placed in front of me. It looked like a plate out of Martha Stewart’s kitchen, and the first bite was delectable. The top hotcake had a crust of brown sugar and oats for a sweet crunch for a great flavor and texture contrast to the fruity and fluffy pancakes. After that first bite, I delved further into my meal, and my initial excitement gave way to a similar ennui that I experienced with the bread pudding. Once again, M. Henry believed that stewing bread products in its own juices would somehow improve the quality of the meal. This destroyed the bottom flapjack, and the creamy mascarpone cheese between the pancakes didn’t help. I’m sure it was a good idea on the drawing board, but they should cool it with the fruit juices. I definitely wasn’t crestfallen when I tried and subsequently destroyed my candied bacon. Normally, I’m not a crispy bacon kind of guy, but these monster-sized strips were special. M. Henry took a basic bacon strip and combined the salty, smoky flavor profile with a perfect coating of sugar to redeem an otherwise disappointing meal. I tried some of Janice’s dish, mainly the huevos borrachos or “drunk eggs”, and I really should have ordered those. Not only was the tortillas homemade, fresh, and thick, but the adobo mixed with the chorizo, sour cream, and avocado was a thick, south-of-the-border fiesta that couldn’t be any more at home in my mouth. Que rico!
By the end of the meal, I was indifferent to my experience at M. Henry. I think I just chose incorrectly, but they do care a lot about the quality of the ingredients that they use. That is for certain. I’m sure there are other places in Andersonville that serve brunch, like Lady Gregory’s, but I wouldn’t say to completely avoid M. Henry’s. It’s worth a shot.