Hell of the North
135 Greeves St,
(03) 9417 6660
One Friday night, me and three girlfriends decided to visit Hell of the North, a restaurant and wine bar opened at the Smith Street end of Greeves Street. An unmissable bright yellow doorway invites patrons into a cosy, modern environment with bluestone and timber accents. It’s pretty.
The building is heritage listed, so brothers Christian and Adam Ferrante (Rose Street Artists’ Market) and Mark Grixti (The European/Melbourne Supper Club) acquired the help of Lucas Chirnside of SMLWRLD to transform the space previously known as Lambs go Barrr. Due to a ‘hellish’ time renovating (it took two years for their dream to come to life), the name “Hell of the North” came about, referring to one of the world’s toughest cycling races which takes place in France, with many of the streets cobbled with bluestone.
I walked to Hell of the North after work, and was surprised to find the place near empty, not that I minded: it meant the sommelier had a chance to explain the cocktail my friends were already drinking: the Kir Royale ($12.00). A mix of a beautiful crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) and sparkling wine, it made an excellent choice for a group of girls on a Friday night.
Poor Miss K was stuck working late, so in the interim the two Miss Rs and I ordered the paprika fries ($6.00) and the whitebait served with lemon aioli ($12.00) to share. I knew Miss R#1 wasn’t a huge fan of seafood, but Miss R#2 and I convinced her to try one of the whitebait, which she did with no major complaints. I meanwhile downed a school of the little fishies easily. The paprika fries were delicious also, a must if you are thinking of visiting, as they go down very well with a drink (or two)..
Once Miss K arrived, we each chose a plate to share. My choice was the San Daniel 24 month cured prosciutto, served with a gorgonzola pannacotta ($15.00). A beautifully simple dish I thought, as I am a massive fan of prosciutto and this was a good one. Ensure you get some bread to have with it though, as the lone breadstick served alongside didn’t go far amongst the four of us.
Also ordered was the gnocchi served with slow cooked lamb shank and gremolata ($16.00). Delicious clean flavours served topped with fresh parmesan. I only wish there was more of it.
Miss R#2 ordered the kingfish served atop butter beans & chorizo, with red pepper mohummera ($18.00). The fish was a tad overcooked I thought, and was quite dry, but the flavours were there. I am also loving beans at the moment (see my bean salad), favouring them over boring old mashed potato.
To round out our mains, we had the roast beetroot, fetta, red pepper and lentil salad, served with salsa agresto ($14.00). A nice vegetarian option, the flavours reminded me of a greek salad with the fetta and cucumber ribbons.
As Miss K had missed out on the paprika fries earlier, we orderd the very decadent kipfler potatoes roasted in duck fat ($7.00) from the sides menu. I forgot to get a photo of these though I’m sorry, but I can tell you they were very nice!
Being girls, we ordered two desserts to share between us: the coffee bean pannacotta served with choc chip cookie and espresso sauce ($12.00), and the plum and hazelnut crumble, served with vanilla ice cream ($12.00). They were dainty little dishes, yielding not too much guilt given the size of them. The plum crumble was on the sour side, as I like it, while the pannacotta was beautifully silky, though I thought the biscuits served along side it were a bit stodgy and lacked the refinement of the previous dishes. Definitely room for improvement there.
All in all an enjoyable night. The wait staff were fantastic, guiding us through the menu and expertly answering any questions that we had. One thing I will say for all of the dishes though is that the serves were not particularly generous. Serving dishes, I think, need to be of a decent size to ensure everyone receives a taste. The dishes here are suitable to share between 2 or 3 I think, making Hell of the North on the more expensive side. A beautiful, elegant space though, perfect for a more civilised night out.