The first thing I noticed when I walked into Helen in the Heights for dinner on a Friday night was the laidback atmosphere and friendly faces. It was still relatively early, so I was able to be seated right away with two of my friends.
While the restaurant has small wooden tables through its center, the wall features a lengthy booth that curves at the end with regular wooden tables and chairs on the other side. The curve in the booth gave a comfortable seating arrangement for three people without having to take up a bigger table.
Water glasses waited empty on the table and when the server asked if we wanted regular water or sparkling I guessed that the sparkling water wasn’t complimentary. I was right, much to the dismay of my friend, who did opt for the sparkling water.
The appetizers ranged from marinated olives to grilled octopus, but because we couldn’t resist fresh pita bread we ordered the Trio of Dips with an extra side of pita. The pita was cut into small triangles and tasted fresh. The dips change depending on when you go, but my favorite was the chickpea hummus because of its simplicity. It had a chunky texture, which I found I preferred over the typical smooth hummus you can find elsewhere.
Our server was extremely helpful in breaking down each entrée we showed interest in and made accommodations for us. One friend ordered the Frixos Catch “Plaki” Style and was able to request that the head and tail of the fish stay off her plate.
I ordered the Feta Brined Chicken that came with baby courgettes, olive oil and herb-roasted potatoes, and pickled tomato vinaigrette. The server sold it to me when she explained how the chicken is marinated for hours in feta and different spices and then grilled with olive oil and more spices.
The chicken was delicious with the seasoning boosting each bite, while the vinaigrette beneath the chicken and sides gave it an extra flavor that complemented but didn’t overtake it. Some of the baby courgettes were chopped in spears, while others where sliced into wide strips and rolled into little flowers. They were covered in olive oil, which didn’t bother me. The roasted potatoes resembled thin chips and I found I enjoyed the light crispiness of each potato.
To top off the evening I ordered a Baklava Sundae, which isn’t just fun to say, but good to eat. It comes with housemade vanilla ice cream topped with pecan baklava and chocolate sauce. It’s a very small serving, so don’t plan to share.
Everything was timely, from our water glasses being refilled to our entrées being set on the table not long after we ordered. This caused an already dimly lit, casual atmosphere to lean even more into a relaxed dinner experience.
Helen’s is more upscale in price, but as long as you know that before going it’s a recommended experience.
Helen in the Heights
Address: 1111 Studewood, Ste. B
Hours: 11 a.m.–4 p.m., 5–10 p.m. Tuesday–Thursday, 11 a.m.–4 p.m., 5–11 p.m. Friday–Saturday, 11 a.m.–4 p.m., 5–9 p.m. Sunday
Entrée Pricing: $16-$36
Senior discount: No
Healthy options: Yes
Star of the show: Feta Brined Chicken