A beach café in Escazú? You could call that a misnomer, but Henry’s Beach Café and Grill has an oceanic feel, thanks to creative owners Henry and Jennifer Hane. The upshot of a beachcombing expedition is evident in the décor; credulous customers are transported to the seashore, with nothing lacking but the sound of the waves. Surf boards, a boat, brightly painted fish and even a sculptured wave are just part of the multifarious array decorating the corrugated tin and bamboo-walled restaurant.
The New Orleans theme is depicted with colorful blow-ups of Creole re-cipes. Barrels and beer crates are am-ong an amazing assortment of other funky paraphernalia.
“We even raided Henry’s wardrobe,” laughs Jennifer, as she points to some tacky underwear, T-shirts and socks strung up on clothes lines above the large semi-circular bar.
A recently opened hotspot, there’s no denying Henry’s is a Sports Bar. A fullsized screen covers one wall, TV’s hang in every corner and the blaring 1980’s music can be excruciating to the unaccustomed ear. If you’re not there to watch a game or mix and mingle, but crave quiet conversation, then walk across the plaza to The Balcony Lounge (TT Aug. 1, 2003) also owned by the Hanes.
IT was a Saturday night and the biggest team outing to date. Ten of us arrived early – luckily – as later the establishment was jammed to the rafters. Our young waiter appeared slightly nonplussed, as we moved tables and closed the balcony doors against the chilly night air.
Once settled, he took our drink orders that ranged from draft beer, lemonade, deemed “excellent and not drowned in sugar,” a palatable house wine, Margaritas, a frozen banana Daiquiri, plus vodka and pineapple juice. “Too much ice and not enough vodka,” was the comment. The Margaritas, a house specialty, are served in large fish-bowl-shaped glasses and come in 13 fruity flavors, ¢1,650-2,250 ($3.92-5.35). Classic Margaritas were ordered and enjoyed, as was the tall banana Daiquiri also trimmed with salt around the rim, strange but interesting, ¢1,650 ($3.92).
This was a team munch that lived up to its friendly tradition. Place your order, pass your plate, pick and taste, do not waste, and comment accordingly!
“OUR menu offers a fusion of Cajun and Creole cooking found in New Orleans, plus usual bar favorites,” Jennifer explained.
We soon discovered, with the Hanes at the helm, most have a few extra ingredients, giving them that special flavor.
From a large selection of appetizers the crispy calamari were tender and delicious.
Henry’s sexy mushrooms – what makes a mushroom sexy? That’s bewilderment, but they were a delicacy anyway. A mountain of tempting onion rings and spicy fried olives disappeared like lightning. The above were all deep-fried in a light, crispy, zesty batter and arrived piping hot. Prices ranged from ¢1,300 to ¢2,500 ($3.92-$5.35). The calypso ceviche ¢2,100 ($5), with an addition of mango and avocado was delectable. The tortilla soup ¢1,500 ($3.60) met with approval, but the potato skins were disappointing and the Po-Boy New Orleans-style fried fish sandwich ¢2,500 ($5.35) uninspiring. The mango chicken salad was enormous and appeased a team member – on a health food kick – who grumbled about the amount of fried foods among the appetizers.
THE tasty blackened chicken fettuccini ¢2,500 ($6) proved too salty for most palates. A very generous portion of New Orleans BBQ shrimp came with the highly praised spicy boiled new potatoes smothered in fresh rosemary. The piquant blackened tilapia ¢3,300 ($7.85) was hot, spicy and highly recommended for lovers of Cajun cooking.
“We can’t get catfish here, so had to adapt the recipe,” said Jennifer.
Only one team member found room for the yummy pecan pie ¢1,500 ($3.58), obviously worth leaving space for in the future.
The Hanes should be applauded for opening yet another restaurant that is wheelchair accessible.
Enter by The Balcony Lounge elevator. Centro Com-mercial San Rafael de Escazú: 100 meters west of Plaza Colonial. 11.30 a.m. – midnight, Mon.-Thurs.; 11.30 – 2 a.m., Fri.-Sat. For more info, call 289-6250.