My second visit to Hell Of The North was a planned systematic affront on what I considered some of my favourite places to go in Fitzroy as I was entertaining a blue-blooded cockney that was visiting from Sydney. His missus was at a conference and being the true mate that I am committed my afternoon and evening to not only show him some of the out of the way places in the area but to also get him pissed. Nice guy I am. Knowing that the menu would suit this gentleman, I once again threw open the yellow door with the intention to eat but also knowing that the restaurant and bar would impress.
Although we considered the "Let Us Feed You" option ($65 p/p) we decided to pick and choose from the menu. The cold day demanded that a French Onion soup ($12) would start us off. This was not only hearty but rich and full of flavour which was complemented by a perfect amount of cheese that was in turn part of every spoonful that entered my mouth. There was a great balance of onion and cheese which made this one of the better soups that I have had in a while. Beef Tartare ($17) was the next starter of sorts to follow. The raw meat was not bastardised by any bizarre spices or an unholy trinity of interpretation but instead it was a basic yet brilliant serve that ultimately highlighted the professionalism of the staff who noticed we were running out of bread and brought another round without having to be asked. We were left to drink beer, eat like false prophets and converse in this very attractive space that also includes an outside terrace for dining and drinking.
Along with a quantity of alcohol that even Charlie Sheen would be jealous of, we both ordered the Ox Cheek ($26) with Pommes Puree and a Bordelaise sauce. The highly concentrated and rich sauce was a natural pair with the cheek, which was so tender that it could be cut with not only the back of the knife, which is always a good test, but also your fork. The cockney gentleman that I was with is highly critical of cheek and I had a certain amount of satisfaction in the end that he enjoyed it also. We pondered the intriguing wine list but remained faithful to beer given the early hour.
On both occasions that I found myself at Hell of the North I was impressed by the service and the relaxed but professional attitude. On the first visit I got the opportunity to inspect the sommelier's wine book, enscribed with a pencil and is timeless as the wind. The stories that can be told if those pages could only talk just adds to the allure of this place.
Although you will not find ice cubes in hell or Fitzroy freezing over any time soon, this place is a great escape from the mortal world where you can be excused from being lead from light into darkness.
135 Greeves St., Fitzroy VIC 3065
My Rating: 15.25/20
Value For Money: 3.5/5
e-mail: epicureanofsouthbank (at) gmail (dot) com
When I made this post originally, 93% of the reviewers on Urbanspoon also like Hell of the North.