Dry aged beef and a sensational setting makes for a special meal out at Henry’s.
International standard city-style restaurants are hard to come by in Bali, for pretty obvious reasons . . . we’re not living in a city, after all, so the culinary mind more obviously turns to local fare – call it our ‘sand between the toes’ moment – so it’s refreshing when one comes along and blows the island vibe away.
Henry’s Grill & Bar would fit right in to any city in the world. Located in front of the Aryaduta Kuta Bali hotel, just beside Lippo Mall Kuta, the two-storey modern space features an open kitchen that centers around two custom-made stainless steel grills, with some additional in-house entertainment, such as TV and big screen for live sports events.
It’s the grill that gives the game away. Affectionately known as The Beast, this imposing wood-fired contraption designed by a Texan expatriate is put to work on the restaurant’s signature style fare: dry aged beef.
“At Henry’s,” says executive chef Sydney de Hart, “we work instinctively with the fire and the ingredients. Our menu is entirely powered by wood fire and everything is cooked to order. The kitchen burns a collection of different woods daily to create coals that will then be used to enhance the natural characteristics of the ingredients, and we collaborate with our producers and suppliers to bring you the best produce available each day.”
Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or simply don’t go out to eat), you will be familiar with this latest culinary trend. Dry aging is the process by which large cuts of beef are aged for anywhere from several weeks to several months before being trimmed and cut into steaks. It’s a process that not only helps the steak develop flavour, but also makes it far more tender than it would be completely fresh.
“For Henry`s, says Sydney, “I do minimal of 30 days aging with a maximum of 50 days. The aging process starts in our custom built dry aging room, managed by our own butchers. We add our own touches, including coffee wood charcoal to the aging room, to give the beef its distinctive flavour. When the meat reaches a certain age we move to our Dry Aging Showcase in Henry’s. This gives us daily stock for Henry’s but also helps if guests want to take some home to cook themselves.”
Chef de Hart is no stranger to this process, in case you were wondering. “I first got involved with dry aged beef around 2012,” he told us, “when I was working back home in Amsterdam. We aged beef together with our meat supplier who was passionate about the process. Coming to Bali and having access to good quality Australian prime beef to me was a no brainer.”
It all culminates in spectacularly flavoured steaks, the largest of which impresses with its sheer immensity. “We love putting out our Tomahawk,” says Sydney. “The average serve is a minimum of one kilo, and when that comes out on a wooden platter it’s an impressive sight. Being aged for 30 days, the flavour is as big as the steak.”
Henry`s is a take on a very old process and bringing a modern delivery style to cooking the meat. “We try and stay true to a centuries old way of aging our meat,” says Sydney, “but cooking on high-end modern wood fire grill. We also embrace a similar mindset with some of our side dishes and starters. We use processes like pickling fermentation and smoking in our own smokehouse before the food gets to the table. You’ll not see steamers or ovens in our kitchen.”
Key to this of course is the quality of the meat. “Our Steaks are all sourced from Australia, says Sydney. “Depending on the cut they come from Central Tablelands NSW grass fed or Central Queensland Beef. We do still source some produce locally here in Bali, but this is confined to our green vegetables and fish.”
If all this sounds rather primitive, it is, gloriously so. Yet Henry’s as a restaurant is far from rudimentary in its design. The ambiance – with its semi-circular leather booths and modern design – is welcoming and cutting edge at the same time. The staff is equally well informed and attentive, befitting a great restaurant. Prices are surprisingly low for all this modernity, designed to bring you back for more. After a few icy draft beers and a Tomahawk, you won’t need to be asked twice. Henry’s is a great job well done. You won’t be sorry when you check it out.