80 S 9th Street
Just off of Nicollet Mall, we descended the metropolitan hubbub to see Hell’s Kitchen in its fitting new location. The place is enormous and works quite well. It not only fits enough tables to shorten its inevitable weekend wait, but is constructed with large and dramatic fixtures, tables and booths that exude a pleasantly eerie ambiance. Combine the almost frightening decor with deep red carpet and some devilish (plus randomly angelic) pieces of art, and it becomes the perfect setting for a spot entitled Hell’s Kitchen.
“Unique but not fancy; interesting but not fussy,” reads its menu, which is ideal Saturday morning grub for appetites still reeling from a few weeks of gourmet food aplenty. Hell’s is a brunch spot with character that offers more than oatmeal and potatoes without requiring a licensed palate to squeeze every ounce of enjoyment out of any menu item. And, yes, the waiters do wear pajamas … which only makes me feel more comfortable in mine!
I ordered the yogurt with berries, and found the large helping of homemade lemon-flavored vanilla yogurt to be a lighter option that didn’t short on taste. It was served with a menu-described “generous” portion of fresh berries,which is a bit, well, generous, of a description. Nevertheless, the scattering of strawberries and blueberries added extra tart to the lemon zing. I added a side of toast, simply as a vehicle to consume the homemade condiments. The peanut butter was wonderfully gritty and the right amount of salty, and paired well with the Blackberry Jam (which was so good I found it worth eating alone) that included hints of ginger and lemon among the seedless blackberry puree.
My mom’s Vegetable Frittata came like a thick circular pancake made of whipped egg and seasonal veggies, paired with toast and fresh fruit. Several times she raved about the taste, and we all commented on the amount of vegetables included in each bite. Jim’s Huevos Rancheros were cool in presentation alone. A crisp tortilla — stacked with hash browns, spicy black beans, scrambled eggs and cheeses — was toasted and topped with salsa and sour cream. His favorite part was the crunch among the gooeyness, and its ideal mix of spiciness that gave it some heat without detracting from the various flavors. And, we all enjoyed the bottomless coffee in preparation for a full day ahead.
Families, couples and clusters of friends, Hell’s Kitchen is a hot spot for everyone any time of day, though I find it most … er, heavenly, on a lazy weekend morning. No matter your spiritual stance, one visit will have you believing in Hell as a place you want to go.
RATING (out of 5 ♠♠♠♠♠)
Menu Selection: ♠♠♠
Service: ♠♠ 1/2
Food Taste & Presentation: ♠♠♠♠
COMPLETE EXPERIENCE: ♠♠♠♠
Total bill, including tip (for 3 people): $42