New York Times - Dining In /Dining Out
In Bawlmer, Hon, Crab Is King
February 19, 2003
Henninger's décor is eclectic, to say the least, featuring old black-and-white publicity photos of strippers alongside a tapestry portrait of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King. The food has ambition. When I stopped in, the menu included fried oysters on a bed of spinach with fennel and Pernod sauce, cooked by Jayne Vieth, and thin-sliced brisket of beef, deftly smoked by her husband, Kenny. The two of them own the little place.
- By R. W. APPLE Jr.

Zagat Resturaunt Survey
Not only is this picturesque Fells Point tavern a "great local hideout" with some imported beers, but it also boasts "delicious", "original" New American fare, including "excellent" desserts; its "low-key", "arty" intimacy equally suits hip daters and "timid out-of-town" relations, but with less than a dozen tables and a "no-reservations" policy (except for large parties), going early is a cool idea for all.

Citysearch - Restaurant Review
The Scene
This classy tavern is one of Baltimore's hidden gems. The '40s vibe recalls times gone by with black-and-white photographs, oldies tunes and World War II memorabilia. It's a combination that works: Henninger's regulars keep coming back for more.

The Food
You'll be hard-pressed to have a bad meal here. Mouthwatering entrees range from spicy pepper-encrusted tuna to grilled filet mignon in a delicious Zinfandel sauce. Don't skip the unique appetizers: barbecued bacon-wrapped shrimp and pan-fried breaded oysters in fennel-Pernod cream sauce are two of the best. The wine list is nicely varied and reasonably priced, with each bottle hand-chosen by the owner. Whatever you choose for dinner, save room for dessert and Henninger's coffee, a delightful blend of chicory and cinnamon.

Don't Skip Dessert ...
Try the homemade Key lime pie with real whipped cream instead.

Romance Is in the Air
Looking to propose to your significant other? Pop the cork, then pop the question. Plaques above the tables signify the spots where many couples became engaged at Henninger's.
- Rachele Lawton

Best of Citysearch
Nominated for:
Best Romantic Restaurant

Best of 2001

2001 Editorial Winner:
Best Romantic Restaurant

Wine and Dine Baltimore
In days past, Baltimoreans would frequent the friendly neighborhood tavern for a satisfying meal and the last scuttlebutt.
Well, fortunately, this tradition has been beautifully preserved within the cozy quarters of Henninger's Tavern.

The quintessential Fell's Point dining experience, Henninger's Tavern serves up a diverse selection of new American entrees that have consistently earned glowing reviews. Since 1989, the menu has included everything from fresh seafood in rich, creamy sauces, to indulgent new desserts.

Henninger's is as rich in atmosphere as it is in flavor. Inside its century old building, World War I veterans exchanged war stories when it served as a VFW club. An authentic wall mural of a soldier charging into battle is a fascinating reminder of those times. During prohibition, the bar was converted into a candy store that was actually a front for gambling and sin. A historical influence that becomes obvious when you sip Henninger's expertly mixed martinis.

Henninger's comfy bar, complete with stamped tin ceiling, is always swinging with the very best in 60's soul and jazz. You may even find yourself putting off dinner to peruse the lively walls that hold the owners collection of vintage photos.

For those people that are still as interested in a restaurant's character as they are its food, Henninger's Tavern is the place to go. Immersed in history, Henninger's upholds the neighborhood tavern tradition with taste and originality. It's a small restaurant that's big on charm.

Baltimore City Paper - Henninger's Delivers Much More Than Its Name Promises
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, thought Juliet, but would anyone pay $30 a dozen if roses were called dillwads? Would Juliet still love Romeo if he was named Larry? No, names matter, else the Walters would still be a gallery and Queen Latifah would be Dana Owens.

It had been a while since I dined there, but for a long while, Henninger's Tavern was a restaurant I was eager to recommend, or I would when I could remember its name. The kind of place that Henninger's is--an exceedingly intimate, lovingly managed small restaurant--feels nothing like a Henninger's Tavern. A place called Henninger's should be a big, bumptious sprawling affair, where the waiters wear funny buttons and where you drop your business card in a bowl for a chance at a free happy hour.

Henninger's, on a recent return visit, was as attractive and welcoming as I remembered, as it was for a friend who recalled that Henninger's was his favorite restaurant for second dates--a concept that I found interesting, if only in theory. If only Romeo and Juliet had agreed to meet for dinner at Henninger's, she could have waited at the sweet little bar, where the winsome bartender would be much better company than some dumb friar. And if Juliet got hungry (teenagers!), she could eat from the menu of items available only at the bar--maybe an oyster sandwich.

But then, there's every reason to move into the adjacent dining room, which is sweetly formal on first glance but that, on further investigation, reveals a curator's eye for mixing high art with kitschy memorabilia. The eight or so tables are close enough for neighboring diners to advise you on your menu selections, and music--perhaps a Louis Jordan recording--plays quietly, setting the mood for a great evening, highlighted, of course, by a great meal. And Henninger's delivers.

Before leaving Romeo and Juliet behind, I will invoke their memory once more, or at least their sensational bad timing. Henninger's changes its menu seasonally, and we dined there, as it turned out, on one of the last days of the winter menu. A new menu is in the works and may debut, we were told, as soon as Valentine's Day.

Nevertheless, the appetizers we tried, Texas barbecue shrimp ($7.75) and the pan-fried breaded oysters ($7.25), are signature presentations here and among my favorite appetizers period. They're not going anywhere soon. On the first, five large shrimp come wrapped in smoked bacon, brushed with a tangy sauce, and served over a bed of warm cucumber salad. It's a great mix of sweet and salty flavors that does what appetizers are intended to do--wake up your tongue. And the plump oysters, breaded adroitly, are served on spinach with a cream of Pernod and fennel. More great flavors. And if I tell you that Henninger's Caesar salad ($4.75) belongs in the front ranks of such efforts in Baltimore, I mean to damn it with faint praise. It's OK.

Henninger's lists only eight entrées on its winter dinner menu, and no specials were offered on the night we dined there. Vegetarians would have found nothing to choose from, although people who call themselves vegetarians but eat fish would have had a choice of tuna, mahimahi, and salmon ($17), the last of which--our selection--was baked and served with lemon-garlic orzo and rapini, aka broccoli rabe. All in all, a thoughtful presentation of a mild fish that sometimes suffers from overenterprising chefs.

Crab cakes ($22.50) will surely make it onto the spring menu. They're golden and truly lumpy, and the accompanying slaw is the good tart kind, with its ingredients actually identifiable by sight and taste. On the other hand, the pan-seared veal chop ($25) might presumably not remain much past Presidents' Day. Too bad, because Henninger's version--endorsed by the anniversary couple at the next table--was satisfying, in a big-appetite kind of way. Served with polenta, flavored with (not enough) pancetta, and served with roasted fennel and Madeira pan sauce, it was woodsy and robust but never heavy.

Dinner was not inexpensive here, and although it would have been possible to make a meal from a few of the appetizers, Henninger's is probably best enjoyed when you're fully willing to devote your credit and your attention, while keeping in mind that a less expensive menu is available at the bar. Keep your eyes out for that spring menu, too.
- Richard Gorelick