Hell’s Kitchen

As I sat waiting for my friend Sue in the new Hell’s Kitchen space, I did have the fleeting thought that I was in hell. Not because of the decor, but because I would never be able to return to Rossi’s (my dearly departed beloved bar and burger purveyor), and reality was smacking me in the face. 

I was relieved that it looked different. The decor is much lighter, in contrast to the dark interior of Rossi’s. The walls have bright red paint, and lots of sand-colored brick. There’s a lot more lighting, too. 

You can descend into Hell’s Kitchen using the elevator, which brings you to the entrance near the former tavern and steakhouse, or using the staircase, which leads to the former Blue Star Room. They call the tavern the “pub” now, and they’ve kept the center bar and the booths. I’m not sure if there’s a difference in menus in the pub area and the main restaurant area or not. We were seated in the previous Blue Star Room, which was easier for me because I’d only been in there a couple times and didn’t have as many memories attached. Still, it was weird to look around.

By the staircase, they have a painted set of rules on the bricks. I had already violated two of them (no swearing and no surly attitudes). But my mood did lighten after I got my food. They really do have excellent food at Hell’s Kitchen, and the place could have done a lot worse with tenants. (I’m thinking of Vegas, when the Drai’s nightclub in the basement of the former Barbary Coast used to be a McDonald’s.)

I ordered my usual, which is an All-American Breakfast and a cup of Mahnomin Porridge. The porridge was fantastic, especially on a cold day. The All-American Breakfast comes with a choice of eggs (scrambled), ham, bison sausage, or bacon (bacon), sourdough or multi-grain toast (sourdough), fresh fruit, and hash browns. I remembered that the menu on the previous location had Rosti potatoes instead of hash browns, so I substituted those instead. I’m really picky about hash browns, and often they sit unattended on my plate, but I devoured the Rosti potatoes, which are a blend of potatoes (duh), bacon, scallions, garlic, onions, parsley, sweet cream, and awesome. The toast comes with a trio of toppings: marmalade, blackberry jam, and peanut butter. The toppings are all homemade and fresh and delicious.  

I almost ordered the toasted sausage bread, but was glad I didn’t because I was stuffed from everything else. I had it the last time I was there (at the previous location), and it was quite tasty. You can’t taste the sausage at all– it’s a sweet, dense  bread with spices and walnuts, like banana bread without the bananas.

I asked about happy hour, and our server said that they had $3 taps, $3.50 house wine, and $5 specialty drinks, plus cheap appetizers. No 2-for-1s like the Blue Star Room, but now that I’ve ripped the band-aid off my grief, I think I’d be willing to give it a try. 

In summary: I will always have a special place in my heart for Rossi’s, but I need to move on, and Hell’s Kitchen serves some damn fine food. It will serve a different purpose than Rossi’s, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s almost better that it’s different, like the caterpillar turning into the butterfly, or something. Also, it it gives me an excuse to start a quest to find the best burger in the Twin Cities.

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