Amy McNeilage
There's a seaside vibe to the decor at Henrys.
There's a seaside vibe to the decor at Henrys. Photo: Christopher Pearce

1 Ocean Grove Ave Cronulla, NSW 2230

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Opening hours Wed-Thu 6pm-11.45pm; Fri-Sun noon-11.45pm
Features Accepts bookings, Outdoor seating, Gluten-free options, Vegetarian friendly, Bar, Licensed, Romance-first date, Wheelchair access
Prices Expensive (mains over $40)
Payments eftpos, AMEX, Cash, Visa, Mastercard
Phone 02 9527 0305

Constable Henry Tugwell, considered Cronulla's first policeman, could be seen in 1904 patrolling the beach on horseback, wearing a woollen coat, leather boots and a bowler hat.

He has been called the suburb's original hipster, and it was in tribute to this accidental fashion oracle that Cronulla's newest restaurant and bar, Henrys, was named.

Every aspect of the laid-back, yet sophisticated, venue is designed to reflect the seaside suburb, from the pool party-style house music that plays, to the seafood-heavy menu, to the many outdoor tables to catch the sea breeze.

The plump scallops are perfectly cooked.
The plump scallops are perfectly cooked. Photo: Christopher Pearce

Even the interior is supposed to feel like an extension of the outdoors, with bright green fern wallpaper to match the living ferns outside in pots. This 112-seater is one of a posse of schmick new restaurants to open in recent months on Gerrale Street, which runs parallel to the shoreline, one street back from the sand.

On a balmy night, we are seated under the hanging lights outside. The attentive staff take our drink and food orders at once. The menu, separated into small and large share plates, is unpretentious, with simple flavours designed to complement the seafood and meat.

Drinks-wise, the cocktail menu is creative and well executed. The La Dolce Bitter – gin, Campari, Aperol, amaro, lemon juice and grapefruit juice – is a bitter-sweet concoction that delights this negroni lover. There's also a decent range of well priced local and international beer and wine.

Striking: Rainbow trout and burnt lemon.
Striking: Rainbow trout and burnt lemon. Photo: Christopher Pearce

Our first dish, scallops with peas and caramelised pork jowl, comes out astonishingly fast, arriving before the cocktail. This fast pace, which continues through the meal, is a bit rushed and overwhelming.

Nevertheless, the food is great. The scallops are perfectly cooked, with a vivid pea puree and a small cut of jowl, like a sweet, fatty strip of bacon.

Kingfish is served in thin raw slices, subtly flavoured with finger lime, chives and mandarin, citrusy but without overpowering the fish.

La Dolce Bitter - gin, Campari, Aperol, amaro, lemon and grapefruit.
La Dolce Bitter - gin, Campari, Aperol, amaro, lemon and grapefruit. Photo: Christopher Pearce

This is balanced by a rich and delicious cauliflower salad. It's a huge serve of fried cauliflower doused in creamy sheep's labna and a sweet balsamic dressing, topped with raisins, pomegranate seeds and macadamia nuts.

The rainbow trout main with burnt lemon is strikingly presented, splayed out on a plate with its tail still intact and festooned with capers, almonds, currants and greenery. Executive chef Rafael Tonon, previously at Hugos, Barrio Chino and Fei Jai, says his mother cooked the sweet and salty trout for him when he was growing up in Brazil. His dish more or less follows his mother's recipe, with the currants added as his touch. Other than the trout, the menu has more of a Mexican influence than Brazilian, with crispy flathead taco and yellowfin tuna nachos.

While the menu is mostly seafood, it also offers jerk chicken, a 500g Wagyu flank and, for $110, a 1kg dry aged Black Onyx T-Bone.

There is something to please everyone, which reflects the crowd at Henrys. On the Sunday evening we visit, there are couples on dates, groups of friends drinking beer and a three-generation family.

The food is certainly worth returning for, but I think it is the well-run bar and upbeat atmosphere that will see the place thrive as a popular drinking venue.

THE PICKS Rainbow trout, cauliflower salad, cocktails.

THE LOOK Open and leafy with a laid-back, coastal feel.

THE SERVICE Chatty and attentive.