When I heard of Hell of the North, the name didn’t quite stick. I knew I made a booking at a place with a yellow door… but I just couldn’t remember where. Maybe its because I like the northside, so Hell just doesn’t resonate in the same sentence. Or maybe my memory is just getting worse.
Conveniently located just off Smith St, it had a kinda hip-chalet-in-the-mountains feel to it- well, whatever that feel is. All blue stone walls (it’s a converted heritage building) and dark wood, it was nice to imagine yourself huddled in a bar in the middle of nowhere. The first main room is broken up by the central bar; turning the corner you find a large communal table perfect for groups, almost like a private dining area. And behind the main room are more tables you can spy through the cute peephole (or maybe you just call it a window). Its great that you can imagine the setout of the house, pre-restaurant in ye olden days. The only slight design flaw, was relayed to me by my birthday companion, S who reported being sandwiched in the bathroom, which was too narrow for two people to slide past…
“You want to go which way?”
…oh; is that your ass against mine?
When we arrived at 6pm on a Friday, the place was quiet but we were able to appreciate the decor before it was packed by 7. It helps that it’s backed up by some pretty impressive food too. It’s another share plate menu so bring along your less-greedy and less-stingy dining companions.
To start off: the Scallops with Artichokes Barigoule ($17), 4 plump darlings with a flavoursome stew of fine vegetables. It was a good start.
Next up was the Slow Cooked Wagyu Brisket with Pomme Puree and Sauce Borderlaise ($25). I probably enjoyed this the most, with the sauce Borderlaise (read: red wine, butter, shallots) rich and well executed, addictive on the palate with the just falling apart brisket. It was brought together by the creamy Pomme Puree, or as myself and S appreciated it as, 50% potato, 50% butter. I overheard the waitress on the table next to us saying they braise it for 48 hours. I wish I had 48 hours to braise beef.
The last savouries were the Roast Lamp Rump, Stuffed Zucchini Flowers, Cous Cous, Anchovy Jus ($24). I did enjoy this dish, but I didn’t expect the zucchini flowers to be stuffed with lamb, which somehow contradicted the lightness the flower would have otherwise imparted. The giant cous cous added a great texture compared to the usual fluffy stuff, being more gelatinous and slippery. We also ordered a side of Greens with Pecorino ($8) to green things up a bit.
At first I wasn’t too excited by the desert we ordered, Salted Caramel Mousse with Quince and Marsala Sorbet. That’s because i didn’t know it came with a ginger snap tuile, two types of crumb, and coffee mingling against the dark slate. On its own, each component didn’t wow, but together… aaah so good. The elements played off each other gracefully, making for a dessert that wasn’t too sweet. Respect.
With yet another good-looking restaurant in the Brunswick St/Smith street area, this is an attractive option for a cosy dinner, good food and impressive surrounds. Service was attentive and friendly. Go for the good food, comforting ambience, thick dinner napkins… just don’t get sandwiched in the bathroom.
Hell of the North
135 Greeves St