23 Jun Hell of the North, Fitzroy
Hell of the North, the French darling of Fitzroy. The bluestone building housing this bar and bistro is hidden behind greenery, its bright yellow door one of the few hints that there’s something exciting waiting within. Sadly there is little time to appreciate its understated facade, for fear of being caught in another sudden downpour, but the dreadfulness of the weather is quickly forgotten as we snake our way to a cozy corner table by the kitchen.
Neatly broken into sections, the menu at Hell of the North is devoid of lengthy descriptions, consisting instead of a simple list of main ingredients. A twice-cooked cheese souffle begins the proceedings. Surrounded by a neat puddle of parsnip and a wedge of witlof, the souffle has a light, airy interior and a tasty but rounded flavour. Caramelised cloves of garlic explode to release thier softened innards. It’s a convincing start to the meal and it goes down a treat.
After listening to the day’s specials, we’re coaxed into ordering the Bonito Niçoise. The bonito fillets are cooked to perfection, teamed with oozy crumbed fried eggs, salted anchovies and creamy potatoes. It’s a satisfying and flavoursome dish.
Different to what I expected but no less impressive, is the Duck Pot-au-feu, which in fact turns out to be duck cooked three ways. The pan proffers to us a sausage, duck leg confit, and pan-fried breast. The sausage, which also contains hazelnuts, has a very smooth and somewhat packed texture. The juicy delights of the confit leg cannot be denied, and we can’t fault the pan-fried duck, which has retained its pink blush and sports nicely rendered fat and a crispy skin.
One of my favourite cuts of beef is the short rib. Here it’s matched with smooth and smokey celeriac puree and a punchy red wine sauce, freshened up by the piquancy of horseradish and crunchiness of the greens. The short rib almost falls apart as I lift a piece onto my plate. I’m in heaven.
We finish with the milk chocolate dessert. It’s rich and mousse-like, with gingerbread granita added for texture, and raspberries for a tart balance.
Both Hell of the North’s unpretentious frontage and food menu reflects their approach to cooking. Their dishes are thoughtful and restrained, allowing the ingredients speak for themselves. Hell of the North is definitely a place I hope to return to soon.
Hell of the North
135 Greeves St
Fitzroy, VIC, 3065
(03) 9417 6660