There’s a giddy sense of freedom about driving; the ability to get where you like within your own personal little bubble – music playing, air con on at the perfect temperature, the scenery passing you by. Night Owl and I have been taking advantage of the new lady in our lives – our beloved second-hand Holden Astra we have dubbed “Betsy” – and taken her out exploring to all of our favourite places and to discover more. So far she’s braved the heat of Byron Bay, wound through the hills of the Hunter Valley vineyards, taken us out west-ways for a spot of Lebanese charcoal chicken with many tubs of garlic sauce and a couple of burgers had from a truck in an empty car wash, and trundled slowly along a muddy road in torrential rain past wet sheep and cows on our way out from Minamurra Rainforest. She’s been the best addition to our lives and a scheduled service keeps her 2005 engine purring along nicely.
Because Betsy’s perfect for a drive, I took up the offer of taking a quick trip down south-ways to Cronulla to review Henrys, which is a short walk away from the main Cronulla Beach. I’ve never been to Cronulla before, and thought a late evening drive would be perfect with the cloudless – albeit chilly – weather we have been having lately. I’m glad we didn’t miss the sunset, because it certainly was wonderful on the evening that we visited.
The light faded quickly and sufficiently hungry by this point, we decided to head back up from the beach towards Henrys, As it’s a cooler evening, we are grateful to be hustled to a table of two inside. The decor is simple Hampton’s style – pot plants, patterned chairs, green foliage wallpaper. The menu is a combination of international flavours, with ingredients such as seaweed, habanero mayo, buffalo mozzarella and foie gras, and split into “smalls” and “large” – a menu designed for sharing.
We start with drinks. I have a glass of pinot while Night Owl selects the Black Bulleit ($19) cocktail, a combination of Bulleit rye whiskey, Fee Brothers Black Walnut butters, and maple syrup. It arrives served over a large ice cube in a rocks glass with candied bacon on the side.
Night Owl is a bartender of the more purist variety, and so is a little apprehensive when the waitress invites her to “add as much or little maple syrup as you like”, rather than the maple syrup being stirred and diluted into it as the bartender made her drink. I’m mostly enamoured with the adorable little beaker of maple syrup.
Our Kingfish Crudo ($20) with pink peppercorns, eschallots and rose petals arrives pretty as a picture. The fish is beautifully fresh and only lightly perfumed from the rose petals, which also provide lots of crunch with the peppercorns. My first few bites of the crudo are a little sharply salty for my liking, but as we progress through the dish the saltiness mellows out to a more pleasant consistency.
The Wagyu Beef Tartare ($21) is a little different to what I had been envisioning – I had been thinking small bits of seaweed may have been incorporated into tartare itself, not sheets of nori for wrapping the tartare in! They provided a wonderful pop of umami flavour and it was a very different take on tartare. It also gave me flashbacks of my childhood when I used to get packs of those dried nori sheets in my lunchbox! The minced wagyu itself was very tender, but the sesame oil was almost the barest bit too overwhelming for me.
The last of our small dishes is the Fried Cauliflower ($19) with sheep’s labna, raisins and cumin vinaigrette. It’s the most beautiful warm winter salad you could ever imagine, with pops of tangy, acidic pomegranate. It’s the perfect salad to accompany our large dish of Battered Flathead ($24) with fried potatoes and tartare. The flathead is classically and simply battered: crisp and light batter, the fish moist and flaky inside. It’s the perfect dish for a quiet Sunday evening after a beach stroll.
The concise and simple list of desserts present an enigma and I tentatively enquire with a waitress as to whether the Goat’s Curd Cheesecake is house-made, thinking a huge slab of New-York style cheesecake was going to be dolled out onto a plate before being slid out to us. I need not have worried.
The Goat’s Curd Cheesecake is of the crust-less variety, sitting beneath a quenelle of zesty passionfruit sorbet, scattered with a deliciously moreish almond crumble. I’ve always loved the rich, slight pungency of goat’s milk and goat’s curd, and so despite being full from dinner I greedily scrape the plate clean!
It’s somewhat of a shame that there’s no view of the beach from Henrys yet it’s so close; but in the same vein it also means a slightly quieter, more laid back venue which is perfect for visiting after taking in the waterfront with a stretch of your legs.
1 Ocean Grove Avenue
Cronulla NSW 2230
(02) 9527 0305