IÕll get right to the point: steer clear of a potential trap lurking in Manchester, VT: Bistro Henry. Bistro Henry is billed as a casual French bistro. My wife and I went there MLK weekend. As we were being seated, the maitre dÕ offered us a choice between regular water or Pellegrino (an Italian mineral water we both like). We opted for Pellegrino -- neat trick, getting us to order something before we even opened the menu. We then realized that the prices on the menu were much higher than we were expecting (the cheapest entree being $17.00), but having already asked for Pellegrino, we decided not to get up and leave. We figured that weÕd keep the cost down by skipping appetizers and wine.
However, the moment our waitress realized we werenÕt big spenders, both she and the maitre dÕ began to be extremely snotty. It was clear that they were not going to expend any effort on us if we werenÕt going to run up a large bill. We had to ask for a basket of bread, while we could see our waitress puttering around. She was kept touching her hair, and worse, her nose (yuck!). Incidentally, the table next to us ordered several drinks and appetizers, and was engaging the waitress with small talk, but we caught her rolling her eyes the minute her back was turned. Now, our usual approach to table service is that we never mind cheerful incompetence. Screw up everything, but if you really try to get it right and do it with a smile, weÕre prepared to forgive just about any gaffe. But, we will not forgive rudeness.
To make matters worse, the chow sucked. Our steaks were both very tough and flavorless. My steak au poivre was just peppery. The frites were droopy, fried in oil that wasnÕt hot enough. The best food on the plate -- indeed, the only flavorful thing -- was the garnish of sauted snow peas. 2 entres, and a large bottle of Pellegrino came to $52.00. IÕve had excellent meals, including drinks, appetizers, and dessert for less.
All in all, avoid Bistro Henry, and the whole Manchester, VT area -- itÕs too touristy, overdeveloped, and rude. For a better Vermont vacation, head further north, to the Northeast Kingdom area of Vermont, especially to the town of East Burke, and visit our favorite restaurant anywhere -- the River Garden Caf, which IÕve written glowingly of previously in this space.
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