Heni: Old World fare in Little Burgundy

Heni, meaning jovial in Arabic, takes us on a culinary journey through the SWANA region (Southwest Asia and North Africa), with an inventive menu crafted with mastery and excellence, showcasing Quebecois terroir products. Nestled in the Saint-Henri neighborhood, the restaurant offers a unique experience and a new concept that combines refinement and conviviality.

Owners Soufian Mamlouk (Barley, Lulu Épicerie), Noah Abecassis, Rami El Sabban, and Omar Boubess have meticulously refined the restaurant’s concept. Every detail has been carefully worked out to offer Montrealers an extraordinary experience. The Heni menu is dynamic, paying homage to Quebec’s seasonal harvests through traditional recipes from the cuisine of the Ancient World. We were completely captivated by the delicately crafted flavors and textures of the dishes. Fine ingredients take center stage, expertly handled by Chef Julien Robillard (formerly of Pastel and Executive Chef at Le St-James). “We wanted to revisit our grandparents’ recipes but work them with the products of our new home (Quebec) to represent this rich culture,” notes Noah. They strictly use local products and adapt family recipes to the ingredients available here. This was crucial for them. The menu is bold, modern, and invites you on a journey while preserving the integrity of traditional recipes, without making you feel out of place. Refined preservation techniques are evident, extending to the cocktail menu created by Émile Archambault.

Ancient World wine

The wine list, curated by Rami, is representative of the restaurant’s concept, offering both classic wines and those from the SWANA region and the Ancient World, which are less commonly found on Montreal tables. The owners also own their wine import agency, Sienna Wines, one of the first agencies to primarily import from Lebanon and neighboring regions. The wine list is unparalleled while remaining quite affordable; we strongly recommend trusting the sommelier and indulging in less conventional wines. “We want to tell the story of these regions and producers with bottles that represent our roots and history, and Heni is the perfect vehicle to showcase them,” explains Rami. They also plan to organize events and meet with producers.

Salon Badin

At Heni, hides a hidden gem: Salon Badin, a fantastic lounge offering a unique sensory experience, especially for music and gourmet cocktail enthusiasts. Émile Archambault teams up with Jonas Kempeneers (The Coldroom) to present the ultimate cocktail menu that he has perfected over many years. A total immersion is guaranteed, with unique sound systems, making this the perfect place to enjoy a delicious cocktail while engaging easily in conversations. The cocktail bar, with around twenty seats, is beautifully appointed and luxurious – a simple description wouldn’t do it justice; you have to see it for yourself!

But what truly makes Heni special is the ambiance. The place is stunning; materials ranging from stone to leather, under earthy tones, invite you to sit. As soon as you walk through the door, you are welcomed by a warmth that invites you to relax and savor every moment. At Heni, each meal is a celebration, a moment of sharing and discovery. Because beyond the food and drinks, Heni offers something unique: a true celebration of life.

** Please note that it is still possible to reserve your seats for the two launch evenings at Heni, which will take place on January 12th and 13th.

Photography by Alison Slattery

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