Our experience at Hell’s Kitchen was far from hellish, but unfortunately it also had no brownies ... but more on that later.
Contrary to popular belief and according to the restaurant sign out front, Hell is upstairs (or this version of hell is) and away from the downstairs laneway hustle and bustle. After settling into the loft style cafe/bar surrounded by artsy decor, and mood lighting, fellow foodie Big Fil shared with us that “this place feels very Melbourne”. HK was well patronised, playing host to an eclectic mix of patrons ranging from suits to casual walk-ins. It’s not hard to see why Hell’s Kitchen is such a popular night spot as well; if you can, be sure to grab a spot by the window so you can observe the passers-by on Centre Place laneway below. If not, any spot will do in this hip, intimate setting.
I have to admit that this visit for me was dessert-motivated as a result of one review that declared Hell’s Kitchen was all about that (gooey chocolate) cake; HK supposedly has a reputation for awesome brownies. However my hopes of enjoying such a decadent dessert were dashed as the waitress informed me that there was no way of guaranteeing a nut-free dessert. As I am generally nut-phobic when it comes to eating out (brazil nuts and almonds specifically are my kryptonite), I was greatly disappointed and was left to ponder how to get my sweet fix.
All was not lost however as HK has a good variety of dishes at reasonable prices with a range of pides, curries, salads and other delectable-sounding mains. This place is a good example of a cafe with a limited menu and good execution, rather than offering copious amounts of dishes of mediocre quality. Our meals as well where delivered without a long wait … but I wouldn’t necessarily come to HK expecting an express feed.
Lamb kofta meatballs: This was a generously sized dish of tasty football shaped lamb kofta meatballs in a tangy Bolognese sauce, sprinkled with shaved parmesan cheese and served with a mound of basmati rice. Very nice!
Malaysian style chickpea curry: The curry had a delightful, mildly fragrant taste but was let down by overcooked chickpeas. Having said that, though, it was the favourite amongst the group of the dishes we tried.
Lamb shank & vegie soup: A little disappointing for the price. The soup was on the thin side and could have used more vegetables and in particular lamb in it. The flavours of carrot and tomato dominated a bit much over the lamb.
My meal of choice was one of the pides; Hell’s pides don’t look like the traditional ones you find in a Turkish take away restaurant, but rather it looked like a Panini or baguette and was apparently of the sourdough kind. This particular pide housed ham, camembert, mustard, sun-dried tomatoes and fresh basil, creating an explosion of flavours and taste. This made up for my brownie disappointment.
About 15 minutes into downing our mains, the waitress came by to inform us that they had run out of brownies and asked if we would like the carrot cake instead; two of us did. Two door step pieces of cake were brought to our table, looking very regal in all their desiccated coconut frosting glory. The true testament of a good carrot cake is its freshness and the moist factor and (according to my fellow foodies) it not only passed said tests but was declared as one of the best carrot cakes they had tasted and would be their reason for returning to Hell’s Kitchen. I myself can’t wait to go back to HK for post work drinks one Friday night and will probably grab one of their pides again.
20 Centre Place
Melbourne VIC 3000
Ph (03) 9654 5755