haley.henry, Downtown Crossing’s New Wine Bar, Previews at Eat Boutique

Posted December 15, 2015 by Brian Keaney in Business
Haley Henry Wine

Most will not be able to experience haley.henry, Downtown Crossing’s newest wine bar, until they open their doors after the new year.  For a sizeable crowd of lucky diners, however, a preview was in store Friday night at the Eat Boutique. The pop up store in Allston is hosting dozens of artisanal food purveyors during the month of December, and Haley Fortier, a Barbara Lynch Gruppo alumna, was the featured guest at this weekend’s happy hour.

haley.henry, located in a cozy 700 square foot space at 45 Province Street, has seats for 25 and is seeking to be a wine bar with a “fun, really simple” concept. The micro kitchen will not have an open flame, but will serve tinned fish alongside the drinkable fare. Fortier first became interested in tinned fish while in Spain eight years ago, and has spent the last three working to bring her dream to fruition.

The canned victuals include a variety of fish from seven different producers, mostly imported from Spain and Portugal. The menu will feature between seven and 15 different types of sea creatures, including squid, muscles, and octopus. Rounding out the bill of fare will be ceviche, charcuterie, and cheese, with music to enhance the experience.

Shortly before speaking to the assembled crowd, Fortier offered one guest a sample from a can on her display.  She explained that while it “retained the essence of an oyster,” it tasted more like beef jerky.

“It’s not what you expected, is it?” she asked.  “That’s what the bar is all about.”

Having worked for some of the biggest names in the New England restaurant world, Fortier is no stranger to the industry.  With a goal of bringing something slightly different to the city, haley.henry will be serving limited production wines and craft beers, but nothing mass produced, and will have an educated wait staff who can speak to any of them.

Fortier, who has four sisters but no brothers, said her father was never able to give his name to any of his issue.  She honors him by placing his middle name, Henry, after her own on the front door.

The Eat Boutique’s annual Holiday Market is open Wednesday through Sunday until December 20th at 267 Western Ave.  Maggie Battista, the founder and newly published cookbook author, has put together an impressive assortment of chefs, artisans, cookbook authors, and celebrities to draw guests into the space. The building is owned by Harvard University but sat vacant for 20 years, and Battista has transformed it with her own design and renovations, right down to the custom built furniture.

The Holiday Market, Battista explains on her blog, is “really a chance to model out our ideas, aesthetic, and vision in real life, so everyone could see what we want to bring to Boston (and beyond) starting in 2016.”  Battista plans to open a permanent location next year, but continues to offer small batch food gifts online. Her cultivated group of vendors make and sell their own food all over the United States.

The permanent shop will closely resemble the current Holiday Market, which is in its fifth iteration, and Battista is currently scouting locations in Boston and Cambridge. In the meantime, an ever-changing array of vendors are on hand during the day, with food trucks and events several evenings a week, and cookbook author signings held on weekends.