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Restaurant Review: Henrietta...s Breakfast Food Not Worth the Price

Menu Lacks Consistency in Quality

By Chen Zhao, Erica Koval, Jiji Gu, 
Yaa-Lirng Tu, and Sally Lou

Henrietta’s Table

The Charles Hotel

One Bennett St.

Cambridge, MA 02138

(617) 661-5005

As freshmen, five pajama-clad MIT students began a tradition of starting off their weekend mornings with coffee, eggs, waffles, and friendly conversation. Two years later, after consuming more plates of chocolate chip pancakes than we can count, we’ve decided to share our experiences with the rest of the MIT community by reviewing the many restaurants around Boston that offer their patrons hearty brunches.

This Monday, the five of us took advantage of the extra day off to pay a visit to Henrietta’s Table, a hotel restaurant in Harvard Square popular with tourists and the business crowd. Henrietta’s bills its own food as “Fresh from the Farm and Honest to Goodness Home Cooking.”

The menu contains all the expected traditional breakfast fare, with entrees ranging from $4.25 for a combo that includes one egg, breakfast meat, potato, and bread to a $14 sirloin steak and eggs meal. If you care to splurge, the juices (though pricey at $3.25 a glass) are freshly squeezed and delicious.

We started our meal with a basket of assorted pastries of our choice for about eight dollars, which was a real deal, considering each would have been almost half that price anywhere else. We chose the sticky bun, croissant, Danish, pumpkin break, and banana walnut bread. The croissant was soft and melt-in-your-mouth light, while the sticky bun (something like a syrupy Danish with walnuts) will sweeten your teeth with caramel goodness. The banana walnut bread was also particularly good, and reminiscent of a grandparent’s special treat. The basket was filling enough not to require a main meal but inexpensive enough to give us the option. This was everybody’s favorite, and highly recommended for dining with friends.

For our entrees, we ordered separate meals. After the great success of the pastries, the waffles and French toast paled in comparison. Erica chose the malted Belgian waffle with a side of homemade apple butter ($8), which came with the traditional powdered sugar and maple syrup. The waffle was pretty good — though slightly flaky — but the waiter never brought the butter, which might have made the difference. Chen ordered Henrietta’s cinnamon cranberry French toast ($9), but it unfortunately did not measure up to less fancy versions that are available elsewhere. The toast was too soggy in the middle, and the flavor of the cranberries was overbearing.

On the other hand, the meat and eggs meals were more satisfying. Ling had the one egg combo, served with applewood smoked bacon, potatoes, and cranberry walnut bread. The potatoes were cooked with a good blend of crispy outside and soft inside, and though they were slightly under-salted, they provided a perfect balance for the slightly over-salty bacon. Jiji had the house smoked salmon, tomato, onion, chive cream cheese and toast (substituted for the bagel) for $10.50. The burnt toast was a disappointment, but the other parts of the meal were quite appetizing, especially the chive cream cheese, which was very flavorful, but light enough not to overwhelm the various breads it accompanied.

Sally ordered the red flannel hash, poached eggs with hollandaise sauce, and cranberry walnut toast ($9). This was an interesting old-fashioned meal. The hash was somewhat dry but still good, and though Sally discovered too late her dislike for poached eggs, they were appreciated by other members of the group. Her toast was the best part of the meal. This sentiment is echoed by Henrietta’s dinner patrons, who have created such a demand for the complimentary cranberry bread that it is now sold separately in the front marketplace.

Supposedly named for a 1200-pound pig at Martha’s Vineyard, this place uses unmistakably Cape Cod d cor to create an atmosphere that is vaguely upscale, but bright and cheery enough to fend off stuffiness. Artistic photographs of various wildflowers and cooking herbs, together with the lovely open kitchen and bar, are illuminated in the warm sunlight that shines through the large glass windows from the courtyard outside. A statue of Henrietta greets you at the entrance, and many more cute stuffed imitations line the small market not far within. Kids can read one of the various children’s books while adults browse the jars of homemade jellies and bars of fragrant soaps. With reservations, especially recommended for lunch and dinner, we were seated quickly.

Henrietta’s service was acceptable, but certainly not remarkable. We waited about half an hour for our food, but the waiter, other than forgetting the butter, made up for this by being attentive with the juices and coffees.

Overall, Henrietta’s is a good choice for taking parents or out-of-town guests out for breakfast or brunch, but not great for a group of friends looking for a easy way to fill up. The food quality, excluding the exceptionally tasty pastries, did not quite justify the prices.

In addition to a daily breakfast, Henrietta’s also serves a pricey $39 Sunday brunch buffet, a slightly more affordable $24 three-course brunch, and daily lunches and dinners.