Judging by the fare at Hell’s Kitchen, I would ascertain that the devil isn’t really a fussy guy, but appreciates small touches and good quality. Apparently, he likes to fill a large hole in his emotional well-being with comfort food.
Perhaps it’s a commentary on my nuclear family, but descending into Hell’s Kitchen’s digs feels a little bit like coming home. The decor is funky. The staff is friendly. The smells emanating from the kitchen are familiar and heartening.
An initial round of cocktails—the “Bloody Hell” bloody mary and the Foxy Fosse (both $8.50)—was all the remaining welcome we needed. I am not typically a fan of bloody marys, but Hell’s Kitchen’s spicy concoction is tarted up with a little beef rub around the rim; garnished with shrimp, pepperoncini, and green olive; and served with a chaser. That turned me into a fan. The Foxy Fosse is a dangerous cocktail, given the speed with which it can be consumed. It’s a light, summery little medley of homemade basil lemonade and ginger-infused Finlandia vodka. I was only mildly apologetic about downing most of it myself.
More converts shall be found among those who try either the Crispy Calamari ($8.50) or the Chicken Wings ($6.95). The calamari was lightly breaded, and I very much appreciated the twist of lemon in the batter—it arrives at your table with no need for the usual citrus ritual. One can order it served with basil aioli for an additional 75 cents, and I’m sure that’s lovely, but with its accompanying homemade jalapeño tartar and cocktail sauce, we were absolutely content. With a garlic teriyaki glaze, the wings were done perfectly—nice and soft on the inside, instead of the often chewy, overdone app—served with celery sticks and blue cheese dressing.
Because Hell’s Kitchen is known for its breakfasts, we were loathe to pass up the opportunity to sample a few, even though it was getting on 7 PM. Luckily, the establishment is a fan of breakfast at any hour, so we feasted on a heaping helping of Huevos Rancheros ($9.95), as well as Lemon Ricotta Hotcakes ($10.50), which were entirely worthy of their cult following. The hotcakes, served with fresh berries, are so flavorful that I saw no need to add the real maple syrup. I absolutely would second the restaurant’s recommendation to try the first bite without. The Huevos Rancheros are layered—a crisp flour tortilla forms the base, which is topped with buttery hash browns, black beans, scrambled eggs, three cheeses, homemade salsa, and sour cream.
Hell’s Kitchen isn’t as known for its dinners, and I suppose with a menu full of breakfast and sandwich options, that’s inevitable. However, one should keep an eye on the daily specials, which is where Chefs/Owners Steve Meyer and Mitch Omer really get creative. We had the Osso Bucco ($15.75), a slow-roasted bison shank over orzo pasta and sweet potato puree. I enjoy bison, and with such great local sources, I always am glad to see it featured.
A trip to Hell’s Kitchen also has a sweet side, found in its dessert menu. Not Your Momma’s Blueberry Pie ($6.50) has a bright pop of fresh farmers market blueberries in a graham cracker crust. We also sampled the Triple Threat ($4.95), a trio of homemade ice cream cookie sandwiches: peanut butter, strawberry, and chocolate. Neither my dining partner nor I could finish any of these lovelies. I’m astonished to see that they were just as delectable a day later.
If you find yourself on your way to Hell’s Kitchen sometime soon (no handbasket required), try everything you can. This from-scratch eatery even makes its own peanut butter, and it is sinfully good. The portions at Hell’s Kitchen overall are a tremendous value for the price.
80 S. 9th St., Mpls.