Henry Lee's, Redfern
Between what seems like an ongoing stream of openings, it's only every so often we face a real contender. The food at Henry Lee's fits this bill for me and is another secret I've never wanted to share so it can remain one of my own. That said, it's been some time since my first discovery of this private, bricked courtyard and word seems to have now spread.
Henry Lee's, is a space airy and light, nestled alongside Redfern's Cake Wines cellar door. The service, sometimes too cool for warmth, starts off with a good hunt to find a table and a speedy offer of welcome coffee. With beans supplied by the Little Marionette, coffee here is smooth, rounded and up there with some of my inner-west favourites. Don't be surprised to see the odd guest roaster though. Think of Henry's menu like typical cafe fare like a car with all the shiniest extras thrown in. There's beetroot hommous, squid ink brioche and kohlrabi remoulade if that gives any more indication.
One with a keen eye to spot sardines on any menu, I couldn't look past the pickled sardines on toast. Whilst hesitant the Higgs Bacon Blues Burger may be too sweet with the mention of maple as well as jam, i rest my reluctance hoping the kohlrabi remoulade and pickle would quell any sweetness.
Pickled sardines are gently laid across a beautiful mountain of heirloom tomatoes, fennel, preserved lemon and sumac. No tartness. No Tang. Slightly sweet & balanced, on what looks like the same creamy kohlrabi remoulade featured on Higgs burger. The tomatoes are ripe and beautifully soft. Sadly, sardine's are too often an acquired taste, and they no longer feature on the menu.
The Higgs Burger is visually impressive, and will put any other bacon and egg burger to shame. There are delicate cubes of pickle, that creamy, paprika-laced kohlrabi, runny egg and crispy bacon. There's also this hidden secret - the coffee-infused bacon jam. It's surprisingly different to your expectations and has only a mild, caramelised flavour, not bitter, nor sweet as you may expect reading its contents.
This is stellar food in a sexy space. Sadly, the service is hit and miss. At times a true charm, whilst others your sometimes left along for far too long. Watch for sneaky weekend surcharges on card payments - I'm really not sure who carries cash these days.