For almost a year, I drove back and forth down Brownsboro Road, watching the metamorphosis of the old Mike’s Best building unfold. By June, it had emerged as a restaurant called Henry’s Place. Friends began to dine there and a the buzz about how great it was made me curious – and hungry.
I was fortunate enough to have a behind-the-scenes tour and then dine there last week. I wanted to find out the story behind the metamorphosis and meet the chef, Charles Reed.
Henry’s Place is a welcome addition to the Brownsboro corridor, which, with the closing of Azalea’s, only has a few restaurants.
The location and the existence of Henry’s Place is a fateful event in itself. Chef Reed was on his way to start a job in Augusta, Georgia, when he stopped for a visit with his family in Louisville. While here, his friend Majid Ghavami, owner of Majid’s in Chenoweth Square, asked Chef Reed to help him for a while. Needless to say, he never made it to Augusta, deciding to open his own restaurant here with his partner and brother-in-law, Pat McGinnis, instead.
He was close to opening a diner downtown before the opportunity to buy the Mike’s Best building arose at the last minute. He changed his perspective from a diner to a fine dining restaurant serving Pan-European cuisine, only open for dinner. He named Henry’s Place after Henry Watterson, given the restaurant’s proximity to the Watterson Expressway and as a nod to its namesake, a local Renaissance man in Louisville and editor of the Courier Journal from 1868-1919.
He knew exactly what he wanted, down to the cabinets, the fabric, the dishes, the open kitchen and even the dish room. The site was gutted and everything is new.
When I met him in the early afternoon, I got to see the man at work.
He was making homemade duck egg pasta and starting his Bolognese sauce for the evening.
Dessert plates were being designed and plated in advance with melted chocolate designs.
He makes all his own chocolates and ice creams.
The décor is simple and elegant. It is hard to believe that a couple of years ago, I was ordering meat or getting a Chicken Tetrazzini casserole in this same building. It looks nothing like it did before, save the outer walls.
It has a bistro feel with the open kitchen, booths and few standing tables. The bar is set apart and is an ample size. It is definitely a place you could go for a nice cocktail. The entire restaurant is small, intimate and elegant.
Later that night, my supper club met for dinner there.
We started with a toasted French Loaf with Gorgonzola Dip, which is served to everyone before they order. I could drink this dip with a straw, it was so delicious.
We had the guacamole appetizer, which does not look like your typical guacamole, but tastes incredible.
Most of us had a fish dish for our entree. (Chef Reed prides himself on offering some of the freshest fish in Louisville.) I had Cioppino which arrived in an individual copper pot. The waiter served my portion and then left the pot on the table for me to replenish my bowl. Included in this spicy fish stew were China shrimp, Knuckle lobster, Russian crab, Green Lip mussels and Jingle Bell peppers, served in a tomato-based broth with saffron, red pepper flakes and house herbs. We were all soaking the bread in this broth by the end of the meal.
Below is a photo of the vegetable plate, called Doc’s Vegetable. It looked divine, with butternut squash in caramel, fresh asparagus, chicano tomato, buttered cauliflower, eggplant rotolini and cheddar polenta.
The Ruby Trout was also delicious. Two ladies ordered this and loved it.
And lastly, the Risotto with langoustine, Hass avocado, spinach, house herbs and Romano and truffle cream. Name an ingredient there that is not great.
Our group of nine all loved our dinner and gave it a thumbs up. We will be back.
It is a perfect addition to Brownsboro corridor.
Thank you to Chef Reed for a delightful meal and for taking time out of your busy day for the behind-the-scenes tour.
Henry’s Place is located in Brownsboro Center, where the old Mike’s Best used to be. For more information or to view the menu, visit their website: www.henrysplacelouisville.com.