Awhile back, Alex surprised me with a fancy night out to celebrate completing my first semester of grad school. He didn’t tell me where we were going, and instead led me up a dark alleyway off of Smith Street to a large, yellow door. Inside was a dark restaurant, built around a large bar in the center- I still had no idea where we were, or what this places was called! It was only when we sat down at the bar for a cocktail that I discovered the secret that is Hell of the North, a Euro-style restaurant with French inclinations, focused on seasonal ingredients. After a few fantastic cocktails, we settled in with a bottle of wine while perusing the menu. To start, we simply could not overlook the Roquefort croquettes; Alex ordered a french onion soup and we also split a Cheese Soufflé- there were just too many delicious things to choose from! The awesome Roquefort croquettes had a thicker coating than expected, however it paired with the strong funky cheese interior really well. Alex’s french onion soup was “absolutely delicious”- which is high praise coming from a boy who supposedly doesn’t like soup! Finally there was the cheese soufflé- I’ve somehow never had a soufflé before, and this was an amazing introduction! The soufflé was fluffy and light, and paired perfectly with the piperade; a spicy tomato-pepper sauce that originates in the Basque region of France. For mains, Alex had the Lamb Navarin, while I had the Snapper Quenelle with Sauce Nantua. The navarin- a stew from Normandy which combines lamb, turnips and carrots, was rich without being too heavy, and filling without any carbs on the plate. I decided to be adventurous and try the snapper quenelle- oh boy, was it an adventure. The quenelle was like a spongy, fish cake/dumpling…I’m doing a terrible job of describing it, but it was like nothing that I have ever eaten. The texture, the taste, the mouth feel (I can’t believe I actually just used that word not as a joke)- it was all completely new to me, but really delicious. The nantua sauce was a rich, buttery lobster-based sauce- totally indulgent and yet perfect for the quenelle. I am not used to eating food as rich as this, and it took me quite a long time to get through, but I ended up really enjoying it. For sides we had pommes frites and endive & orange salad- the pommes frites were crunchy and delicious, and the salad provided a much needed freshness to cut the richness of our mains. Finally, we ended with a canelle with honey ice cream and honeycomb. The canelle was moist and paired divinely with the rich honeyed ice cream. We left Hell of the North fully satisfied, and pushing our limits in terms of butter and cream consumption (in the best way possible). I hope that all of you can make your way to the beautiful yellow door off of Smith Street, and be equally delighted with what lies inside.
cocktails on cocktails- they were fresh and delicious
Reypenaer Cheese Soufflé, Piperade
French Onion Soup
Navarin of Lamb
Endive & Orange Salad
Poached Snapper Quenelle, Sauce Nantua
Canelle, Honey Ice Cream, Honeycomb