Inside of Berkeley's Graduate Hotel on Durant Avenue is Henry's, a new restaurant that has reinvented itself under some high-profile guidance. Once an old-school Cal game day hangout, the bar and restaurant has transformed itself into what Berkeley never knew it needed: a modern food and drink hall that fits right into the current Bay Area restaurant ethos. 

The Graduate Hotel, formerly the Hotel Durant, recently renovated the longtime hangout of Cal fans into a trendy dinner hotspot that retains its convivial drinking atmosphere. Leading this facelift is the partnership between Chad Robertson, Liz Prueitt, and Chris Kronner.

The People

One of the leaders, Chris Kronner of Oakland’s Kronnerburger restaurant, brings his simple, yet refined, cooking and menu composition to the new space. Alongside his signature burgers, Kronner’s contribution is seen in the wonderfully modern vegetable dishes and overall farm-to-table style fare. With him, he brings one of his cooks, Justin Huffman, to be co-executive chef alongside Jeffrey Hayden. Hayden was the former chef de cuisine at San Francisco’s popular Del Popolo pizzeria. 

The other two leaders, Chad Robertson and Liz Prueitt of the famous Tartine Bakery and Tartine Manufactory in San Francisco, bring their extraordinary breads and buns to Henry’s, making it the only place in the East Bay to serve the nationally renowned items. 

The Menu

Emma Sroat

With such strong culinary backing, the menu opening Henry's has something for everyone. Henry's aims to please all of Berkeley with hip, accessible fare. There are small plate snacks such as toast with bone marrow or marinated feta, burgers, and large plate mains, including roasted chicken and lamb leg. For the meatless diner, there is also a wide selection of vegetable dishes: roasted Maitake mushrooms, charred cabbage, and smoked carrot salad. No matter what kind of diner or party you are, Henry's has something to please everybody. 

The Space

Emma Sroat

Adding to the success of the culinary renovation, the new aesthetic of the space feels fresh and sleek. The cavernous, dim dining room attached to the bar strikes the balance between a friendly food hall and a sophisticated drinking den. The ambience of friends meeting each other and groups conglomerating enlivens the air, making the whole experience feel like a party.

Emma Sroat

For those who want a quieter environment, there is also a separate dining room attached. With large windows lining the Durant Avenue sidewalk, the room offers surroundings conducive to family gatherings and calming dinners.

This reopening of a longtime Berkeley hangout marks a new point in the East Bay's dining scene. It has been some time since culinary personalities of this caliber have attempted a project outside of San Francisco. While the East Bay is rich with niche restaurants, it lacks the attention of trendsetting power that exists in other parts of the Bay Area. Henry's reinvention points to Berkeley's future as the next up-and-coming food destination of the Bay Area.

Next time you are looking for a fun place to have dinner with your parents, be trendy with friends, or grab drinks alongside some composed dishes, check out Henry's. The diversity of the menu, the coolness of the space, and the cheerful atmosphere make Henry's the prime candidate for Berkeley's next neighborhood gem.