Haley.Henry Wine Bar Invites Boston Into A World Of Half-Bottles And Tinned Fish

Posted August 11, 2016 by Cheryl Fenton in Eat & Drink
Haley.Henry Photo Credit: Brian Samuels

Located inside the luxury condo building 45 Province, Haley.Henry is a tiny blink-or-you’ll-miss-it spot that will have a big impact on Boston’s wining and dining scene.

Ladies and gentleman, I give you tinned fish and wine.

My backstory: a secret love of tinned fish has earned me the affectionate nickname of “my little old man” from my husband. Herring, sardines, anchovies. I saunter over to the cabinet, grab a tin, unroll the top and dive right in, standing up in the middle of the kitchen. Plates are for amateurs.

When I heard a new wine bar by Barbara Lynch’s Sportello alum Haley Fortier was pairing old world wines with tinned fish, I became giddy. Then I coughed, cleared my throat and complained about my back. Because old man.

This nautically themed space, complete with an old timey diver’s mask at the entrance, feeds on the hot trend of European wine bars serving tins with bread and potato chips. It was my moment to shine. Haley.Henry was making my somewhat embarrassing snack cool. We had to go.

Although there’s a meager section of “by the glass,” just six wines and three Spanish sherries, worry not. That falls right into Haley Fortier’s plan. (Insert evil laugh here.) A self-proclaimed “half-bottle” wine bar, Fortier breaks down the wall surrounding the oft-imposing bottle wine list. She has hand-curated nearly 50 wines from Mediterranean small production vineyards (think Greece, Portugal, Spain). Provided you buy two glasses, you can open any bottle on the list. There’s a board on the wall of uncorked bottles that have now become “by the glass.”

“It’s what we’re about,” says Fortier. “That’s what we hope to do – get people excited about trying new things. [Half bottles] encourage exploration.”

Anchoves from Spain's Cantabrian Sea. Photo Credit: Cheryl Fenton

Anchoves from Spain’s Cantabrian Sea. Photo Credit: Cheryl Fenton

We began with Coteaux du Vendomois Rosé and Filipa Pato Branco blend, refreshing by-the-glass options against the heat. Then we jumped into the half-bottle concept. The wines are broken into clever subsets – Whites taking on groupings like Blush & Bashful (two completely different shades of pink, as Steel Magnolia fans know), Snap Crackle Pop, and Tighty Whities, to name a few. What’s your pleasure for reds – Smoke & Ashes (from which we chose a robust and obscure Greek Douloufakis Dafnios Liatiko to accompany the “foie in a jar”); No Oak, No Joke; and Earth, Wind and Fire.

To accompany your wine, order cheese and charcuterie boards (“Fur, Feathers and Udder Things”), toasts (“Let’s Have a Toast”), salads (“Have a Field Day”), and crudo and ceviche (“Ooh Baby I Like it Raw”). A heavenly standout is the housemade “foie in a jar” topped with blueberries. But the big deal is the tiny fish. Fortier offers a hefty list of tasty morsels, such as Portuguese smoked eels, anchovies from Spain’s Cantabrian Sea, and Washington State smoked oysters in habanero. But this isn’t camping. We watched Chef de cuisine Carolina Curtin (of Menton fame) place the tins on plates just so, and meticulously stack bread, lemon slices and garnishes to perfection.

The space is so tiny (just 686 square feet with 18 bar seats and two four-tops), I can imagine certain nights patrons will be packed like sardines (pun intended). But Fortier utilizes every inch, with wine bottles lining the stairs and tinned fish creating useable wall decor. It’s truly a cozy nook to have a glass (or half-bottle) of wine, indulge in neighborhood chat, and embrace your secret love of things in tins. These are my people.

Haley.Henry is located at 45 Province Street in Boston.