Roald Dahl fans will know Henry Sugar as the guy who robbed casinos by ‘seeing through’ playing cards (a short story that caused some of us, not naming any names, to spend many late nights practicing with a deck and a candle). For everyone else, it’s Carlton North’s new bistro and wine bar, a saucy little number from Michael Baker (Hell Of The North) and Daniel Mason (Cookie and The Toff).
Henry isn’t going for the culinary fireworks. The menu is slim and compact, and most of the dishes only feature a handful of ingredients. It’s rustic food, but with some smarts. You can tell a lot of thought has gone into each plate. Take the squid (listed as simply ‘squid, chorizo, ink sauce): it arrives on a bone-white plate, black and glistening, almost like it’s about to pulse itself out the door. Cut inside and you’ll find the well-seasoned chorizo and herb mix. Simple, smart and delicious.
The roast pumpkin with shiso, puffed black rice and sesame is a winner for veggos, but we’ve got our eye on the beef cheek: slow-cooked to tender perfection and doused in sweet pedro ximinez. The drinks list is just as considered. Mason and Baker have opted for a curated cellar, stocked with minimal intervention wines, small-batch local brewers and fruity cocktails mixed with house-made sodas.
The whole thing is stripped back, pared down, unfussy. Throw in some moody candlelight and you’ve got the North’s new #1 date night venue.
Image credit: Jess Prince