There are unique restaurants and bars, and then there are dining and drinking spots that are so off-the-wall in their uniqueness that they can be tough to describe. And such is the case with Henry's Patio, an easy-to-miss spot in an industrial and commercial part of Malden that is about as far from downtown as you can get. One look at its location and exterior and the term "dive bar" immediately comes to mind, but not only does it serve food (which, according to some, automatically disqualifies it from being a dive), but it actually offers a few high-end dishes that tend to be found in Boston's most refined eateries. Confused? You aren't the only one.
Not too long ago, the space on Broadway in which Henry's Patio resides was home to a bar called The Patio on Broadway, which was indeed closer to a dive bar or perhaps more accurately, a neighborhood watering hole. Some of the remnants of The Patio on Broadway still exist--including signs out front that continue to show that name--and much of the interior remains intact, with a bar area that certainly has dive bar written all over it. But look more closely and there are some elegant touches here, including tables with white tablecloths to the left and right of the far end of the bar, silverware that is tucked into dinner napkins rather than placed on top of paper napkins (or no napkins at all), and lighting that isn't overly harsh--or nonexistent as is the case with some watering holes. The "patio" part of the name comes from a back patio that has a bit of privacy and is a nice spot on a warm summer night, as long as the westerly winds aren't blowing too hard.
Generally, the menu at Henry's Patio has similarities to many of the great "just north of downtown Boston" watering holes such as Newbridge Cafe and Floramo's in Chelsea, The Line and Stewart's Pub in Everett, Kelley Square Pub in East Boston. and Pearl Street Station in Malden, that is, a mix of pub grub, Italian-American faves, and grill items, but as indicated earlier, there is also a major twist (more on that in a bit). Nachos, house-made pita chips with spinach and artichoke dip, wings, potato skins, French onion soup, clam chowder, hamburgers, mushroom burgers, steak tips, pizza, and calzones can be found on both the regular menu and the "specials" menu, with the char-grilled burgers being outstanding, the mushroom burgers being just as impressive, the calzones having a tremendous crust and being almost too big (the half-calzone is big enough for two), and the steak tips having the zingy type of marinade that one would expect from a place that's located in the heart of steak tip country. The burgers, potato skins, et al also share some space on the menu with some real head-scratchers for this kind of place, including a chateaubriand for two that costs a bit under $60, escargot which is offered as a special, a rack of lamb with mint and pepper jelly, grilled swordfish, and filet mignon with bearnaise sauce. A children's menu is available at Henry's Patio, while drinks include a handful of beers and wines along with a decent selection of hard liquor from the bar.
So what exactly is Henry's Patio? Is it a dive bar? Is it a neighborhood joint? Is it an upscale restaurant? Is it a fine-dining spot? Well, even though the place offers some gourmet dishes, it is probably safe to say that this is more of a neighborhood joint that definitely has a lot in common with the Newbridge or Kelley Square Pub. But even those comparisons aren't quite accurate because Henry's is really unlike any other dining and drinking spot in the Boston area, and one that no one seems to know about. If you're into true hidden gems and oddball spots, this little roadside place in Malden is definitely one to consider.
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