Henry's Great Alaskan Restaurant opened a week ago, and chalk one up for the nightlife crowd: This place has a huge bar.
Henry's is on Old Seward Highway, just one block north of Dimond Boulevard. Ads have described it as "upscale casual" and boasted of bountiful food portions but also mentioned beer and wine availability.
Where a trailer park once stood, you'll now find an airy, open establishment with exposed wood-beam ceilings and dozens of dangling golden light fixtures dotted with faux jewels and crystals.
We scooted past the smiling hostess and headed for the big bar area. It takes up about half the room. Pull a stool up to the long, oval bar, nestle into a booth or select a seat at one of the many tall tables that border the room.
Henry's is an offshoot of a same-named place in Kodiak. Pals from that island tell me the restaurant-bar is smack in the center of town and faithfully frequented for its good food and sports bar-esque atmosphere.
Anchorage's Henry's lacks the sporty vibe, but that's fine. This place had a rather empty feel when we visited -- not for lack of customers, but for its absence of decor. It was a sign of a work in progress. The bartender told us management has plans to add paintings and memorabilia to the walls and a big-screen TV to the bar area.
The joint is nonsmoking, except for a patio on the build- ing's west end. Soon that outdoor space will be equipped with heaters. That's good news for smokers and shows foresight, with indoor smoking a no-no after July 1, 2007.
The massive menu touts such standard fare as burgers and pasta on up to steak and seafood. Appetizers run from $4.25 for fries to $11.25 for smoked salmon, crackers and cream cheese. The beer and wine selection is generous. There are a dozen beers on tap, with domestics such as Budweiser selling for $4.25 a pint or $13 a pitcher and premiums like Alaskan Brewing Co. products going for $4.75 a pint or $15 a pitcher.
About 30 wines are available by the glass, most selling for between $7 and $9. Also, Henry's advertises a seldom-used bargain for bar-hoppers known as a corkage fee: Bring in your own bottle of wine or champagne, and for a fee, they serve it to you. For a 750-milliliter bottle, the additional cost is $10. It leaps to $15 for a 1.5-liter bottle.
Also, the bartender said, the joint's libation options will soon expand to include mixed drinks. Cheers to that!
Henry's is a nice bar to buzz by on a first or second date or for an early-evening rallying spot with friends. The fact that it's just a block from Al's Great Alaskan Inn and Asia Gardens is a bonus.
-- by Katie Pesznecker