Lunch at: Henry at Life Hotel

Of all the restaurants I’ve been to over the years, the ones I remember are the ones that bring something truly special to the table.

No pun intended.

There is a uniqueness to Henry that pours out of the kitchen and into the dining room; from the beats to the plates, there is nothing boring about this spot.

Chef Joseph Johnson (aka “JJ”) has taken control of the kitchen (and music), and he’s created an “Afrocentric” menu, that is as delicious as it is vibrant (I’m an influencer – I take colors of my food very seriously). His Chef de Cuisine, Samantha Davis, is a fine talent as well, and came out to greet us and explain some of the menu. I first met Sam at the NYC Wine & Food Festival, where I was working as a photographer. She stole my heart at the 90’s Flashback Friday event, where she created a take on Dunkaroos, served with a shot of milk.

But I digress.

The menu at Henry may not have Dunkaroos, but it had ALL kinds of other delicious things. Like the oxtail egg roll, bursting with tender chunks of oxtail, green pops of edamame, carrots, and two sauces: au jus (think French Dip), and a chili-peanut hoisin sauce that was like crack. Literally a perfect starter.

Everything bagel roti with smoked salmon? I’ll allow it. Some might scoff at that, but I thought it was a cute take on the NYC staple of bagels with lox and cream cheese. The shrimp and pork dumplings were a little overcooked, but swam in a velvety, pale green curry.

Note: we got the ribs made specifically for this shoot/tasting, but they are not typically offered during lunch service, only dinner.

The ribs look like something straight out of that first scene in the Flintstones and I’m not even being dramatic. The photos do NOT do them justice. I thought they were like small, cute shortribs.



Each one was bigger than my head. Someone should have warned us beforehand. Glazed with that glorious chili peanut sauce that I want to bottle, the ribs are also served with fried millet and edamame, black bean puree and kimchi. Delicious. And made for sharing. Trust me.

If you want to go SLIGHTLY lighter, try the brown bag fried chicken. Comes with a perfectly golden biscuit tucked into the side of the bag, as well as a few packets of Louisiana hot sauce. Presentation aside, this was a home run for me, but I wanted extra salted butter for my biscuit. It felt a little dry without it, but ultimately a great option.

I am so happy that Chef JJ has found himself a new home at Henry and brought it back from the dead. I’ve only known a few chefs in my life that are capable of doing that. And they’re all doing amazing things.

Here’s hoping the success at Henry continues to grow.


Henry at Life Hotel

19 West 31st St

Website: Henry at Life Hotel

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