The tin fish craze is picking up and when we found Haley.henry pop up as a location focused on simple food and natural wine, we had to get a table ASAP! This is a wine bar with a spartan, open kitchen setup (their only cooking materials are lined on the back bar with a small oven, hot plate, and a cutting area) with a serious punch. We’ve been excited to see how they pull off their food and wine presentation in this unique atmosphere!
Founder, Haley Fortier, came from the world of natural wine and tin fish and decided it had a place in Downtown Crossing in Boston. Actually sourcing the tinned fish themselves, Haley put these two things together in a tiny bar, creating an intimate experience where you see the food being prepared and all the bottles getting opened at the bar. We were shoulder to shoulder with our other bar mates, and the conversation naturally flowed between us and the people to our sides around the food they were eating and the wine they were drinking. The approach to serving also impressed us - every bottle on the menu was effectively available as a half bottle. This gave us a lot more freedom with regards to what we could try, and if you scroll down further you'll see that we took full advantage.
Location: If you’re in downtown Boston, it could not be easier to get to! If you’re planning a night on the town or at the theatre, you can easily walk there from here. It's right in the middle of Downtown Crossing, with easy access to the MBTA.
Interior: Tiny space with two bars, one against the window, the other facing the food and wine prep area. Depending on what kind of person you are you may prefer the window for people watching, but if you want more commentary on what you’re eating, definitely opt for the bar. They also have a few tables for larger groups that it seems they take reservations for.
Ambiance: Dark and woody with a killer playlist of retro and new music ranging from EDM to Frank Sinatra. All the tins of fish are on display with the other food and wine options, giving a very open feeling.
Vibe: The place feels almost like a secret and fun location that you meet up with friends you never knew you had. The dark atmosphere invites intimacy, while also having enough going on around you that you could have a first date here and not have it feel awkward at all.
Furniture: Lots of wood, metal and dark leather. Very comfortable cowhide bar stools at the bar (we prefer these) or metal ones at the window.
Stemware: Long-stem gorgeous stemware (didn’t catch the brand). Their go-to is the pinot noir style glass with the flared rim, but have other kinds depending on what kind of wine you’re drinking, including some crazy tall aperitif glasses.
Serving Dishes: Because more dishes are made for sharing, the majority of dishes come out either in a large ceramic bowl or on a tray of slate. All fit the vibe very well.
What We Ordered - Wine
For our initial wines we decided to do a contrast of two Cavas with very different profiles:
Sparkling 1: Avinyo Cava Reserva Brut Nature 2011 - as a reserve, it tasted quite champagne-like with a biscuity flavor, very nice aged coloring and small bubbles.
Sparkling 2: Totus Tuus - in contrast, this cava was a fruity fresh bomb of citrus on the palate.
We did a half-bottle of white so we could go to “Funky Town” on the menu:
White: Minimus SM2 - a mix of Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier, the wine had some fermentation on skins with the acidity of the Sav Blanc coming through initially and the feeling of the Viognier at the end.
For reds, we went with what was already open and tried to keep the selections as funky as possible.
Red 1: Couturri Red - This one was bizarre to be sure, smells like a Port but then has high acidity on the finish to keep you wondering the entire time you’re drinking it.
Red 2: Semplicemente Bellotti Rosso - VERY natural tasting with a light body and a mix of fresh cherries as well as leather and mushrooms.
Keeping the pattern of what’s open and goes with dessert, we had two different selections:
Dessert 1: Niepoort Tawny Port - A standard Tawny with all the flavors you expect like fig, vanilla, caramel, and lots of berries.
Dessert 2: Xi’ipal Syrah - Not as traditional to have a Syrah with dessert, but this one fit the bill with a lot of bodies and a deep fruit character that went perfectly.
BTG List Impression: They have several selections by the glass of each wine type of equal caliber to what is also on their bottle menu.
Bottle List Impression: What’s wonderful with Haley.henry is as long as you commit to two glasses, any bottle can be BTG!
What We Ordered - Food
Appetizer: Really all the plates can be served whenever since this is tapas style, but these were what we started with:
Boquerones - These anchovies marinated in vinegar, olive oil, parsley, and garlic, did not disappoint. They were a great start to the meal and went perfectly with our white selection.
Muva’s Meat Sliders - To move away from just stuffing ourselves with tin fish, our next selection was the meat sliders with prime rib and some outstanding sauces.
Plates: We may have over-ordered on our entrees, for two people this was a LOT of food:
Smoked EEls in 00 - In a “make your own sandwich” tray, thee eels came out with some fresh rolls, lemon wedges, fresh parsley, and aioli sauce, and cracked salt. The eels were delicious by themselves as well as with all the Fixin's.
Lamb Tartare - Integrated with mint, harissa, and capers, this tartare was a pretty heavy dish and went best with our Red 2 selection. If I were to do it again I’d probably leave this one out to make more room for these veggies and tinned fish.
Baharat Carrots - What definitely appeared to be locally sourced carrots in a rich creamy sauce had lovely Middle Eastern seasoning but slightly overpowered the flavors of the carrots.
Brussel Sprouts - Probably my favorite dish. Made with cashew butter and shiitake, the flavoring was outstanding and the sprouts had the exact consistency you’re hoping for in this kind of dish.
Dessert: As if we needed more food and wine, we went ahead and tried out their daily dessert.
Cashew Bar - The dessert is just one thing each day and whatever it is, we recommend you try it. Having not been a big fan of cashew bars before, this one was unbelievably fresh with the melt-in-your-mouth feeling that paired perfectly with our dessert wines.
We will definitely go back to just get a couple of glasses of whatever new wines they’re bringing in and try a new tin. This staff was all incredibly knowledgeable and you know you love a place when you can just tell them, "we just want whatever wines you recommend, and pair it with whatever you think goes best with it." We saw Haley at Raw Wine just a few weeks after our visit, and it's was clear from the wine list that she knows her stuff and will definitely be making an impact on the Boston food and wine scene in the coming years.
45 Province St
Boston MA, 02108
Hours of Operation:
Monday to Thursday: 3 pm to 12 am
Friday: 3 pm to 1 am
Saturdays: 11:30 am to 1 am
Pricing: $$$ - We find the wine pricing to be very reasonable, especially considering you can do half bottles and glasses of whatever is already open. The food can get a bit pricey if you decide to order several things.
Looking for natural wine around Boston? Check out our post on where to find it!
Natural Wine in Boston