In May 2017, when Hotel Durant reopened as the Graduate Berkeley, its restaurant and bar, Henry’s, was still closed. Although Henry’s had a newly refinished floor, it had yet to be revamped like the rest of the historic 144-room hotel, which is located in the Southside neighborhood, a block from UC Berkeley. To the dismay of hotel guests, Cal students, faculty and alumni, along with other fans of the popular pub, they’d have to wait about a year for Henry’s to be up and running once again.
That day finally came last week, on April 12, when Henry’s reopened with a whole new look and a whole new team. Leading the charge is chef Chris Kronner — with the help of Tartine Bakery, executive chefs Jeffrey Hayden and Justin Huffman, general manager Howie Correa and bar consultant Julian Cox — who has reinvented Henry’s into a chic, yet comfortable and casual California bistro.
Kronner told Nosh that he intends for Henry’s to be “welcoming to undergrads,” and to still be a Golden Bear hangout on game days, but, he said, “We really just want it to be for everyone in the East Bay.” With his new rendition of Henry’s, Kronner said he is “hoping to add to the landscape” of Southside restaurants, which is lacking in contemporary California cuisine.
Although the chef is most famous for his namesake burger spot, KronnerBurger on Piedmont Avenue (which still remains closed from a kitchen fire), his fans, some of whom have followed him since his days at the Slow Club and Bar Tartine in San Francisco, know some of his best and most creative dishes are his salads and small plates that are made up of surprising combinations of the freshest of ingredients and are always beautifully composed. Expect more of these types of dishes from Kronner at Henry’s.
The bar program at Henry’s features local beers, wine and cocktails. The large roster of wines-by-the-glass has a heavy focus on offerings by local and natural winemakers. For indecisive cocktail lovers, there’s the Bartender’s Choice, a custom-made drink suited for a particular individual’s taste.
The 100-seat dining room — separated into two distinct areas — was designed by Ashley Hildreth and Luke Foss, who gave the restaurant an understated blue hue, olive green banquettes, marble tables and other decorative choices that are intended to highlight the building’s original 1920s detailing. General manager Correa likens the classic, but relaxed vibe to that of Tosca in San Francisco.
Henry’s is open daily for dinner from 6-10 p.m., with two happy hours from 3-6 p.m. and 10 p.m.-1 a.m. Brunch is served on Fridays through Sundays, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Nosh was invited for a complimentary at Henry’s on opening night. Here’s a look at what we ate.