Hey Downtown Crossing: You have a cozy new neighbor.
This Friday sees the opening of haley.henry, a slick and charming wine bar with a modest footprint but big ideas. The spot is the first solo venture from Haley Fortier, fresh off eight years of front-of-house experience at Barbara Lynch's Sportello. Fortier's goal is to create an inviting neighborhood spot with a thoughtfully curated wine list; there's also a crudo- and charcuterie-focused menu devised by Menton alum chef Carolina Curtin. The funky, nautical space is also anchored by an extensive tinned fish program, a personal passion of Fortier's.
That's the quick take. But now, here's everything you need to know about your alluring new Downtown hangout for wine bottles, cheese boards and some pretty spectacular sardines.
45 Province St.; 617-208-6000
It's a (very) intimate space.
If you're looking for a quaint little date spot in Downtown Crossing, this is it. Haley.henry inhabits a ground-floor space in a luxury condo tower, seating just 18 at its bar and eight more at two tables. This isn't the kind of spot where you settle in for a hearty supper; rather, Fortier wants guests to think of henry.haley as a neighborhood wine bar that welcomes guests to casually share an excellent bottle with a light nosh. "There are a few wine bars in Cambridge and Somerville, but we don't really have many in Boston proper," says Fortier. "I always felt there was a huge need for that."
This is a "half-bottle" wine bar.
"I want us to be known as a half-bottle bar, more than for glass pours," says Fortier, who has assembled a list of nearly 50 wines reflecting primarily old world, Mediterranean producers. The selections hop from Greece to Italy to Portugal and beyond, with an eye toward "fresh, crisp minerality." She also installed a peg board where servers can hand write updated names of currently-uncorked bottles available for other guests to try by the glass. It's a fun way of finding out what your bar mates are drinking and "encourages interactivity," says Fortier.
You're going to discover the wonderful world of tinned fish.
Tinned fish menus are popular in European wine bars but unusual to find in Boston. Back Bay's just-opened Saltie Girl (previously featured here) and haley.henry could help turn Hub-dwellers on to the idea, which is really all about overcoming "perceptions," says Fortier, who fell in love with tinned fish programs while living in Spain. The tins are served with bread and potato chips for spreading.
Landlubbers will love it too.
Don't worry if tinned fish don't bait your interest. There's much more to the menu devised by chef Carolina Curtin, fellow alum of the Barbara Lynch Gruppo: She previously worked at Lynch's Fort Point fine dining destination Menton, as well as Sycamore and Liquid Art House. You'll find cheese and charcuterie boards, rotating paninis, composed salads featuring fresh veggies like roasted carrots and a small menu of toasts, like the selection seen here with "foie in a jar" topped with borage (starflower) and blueberries.
There's a surprisingly sweet story to its name.
Okay, the root of the "Haley" half of the name is pretty self-evident. But what of "Henry"? "My parents had five girls," explains Fortier, who grew up in the White Mountains region of New Hampshire. "My sisters and I share the same middle name as my mother. But my father never had a son. His middle name is Henry, so I named it for him." Aww. We'll reflect on that sentiment while diving into the spot's seafood, like this sea trout toe with cultured Butter and radish on toast.