Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hell's Kitchen - Duluth, MN

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to going to a touristy place for a meal in Duluth, especially so near Grandma’s compound. All of the touristy magazines and brochures recommend this place for its fun (but evil) atmosphere. We heard you needed to get reservations for the Sunday brunch if you wanted to get in, so we called and set something up, with the thought of canceling if we got a better offer.

I’m glad we didn’t. The place was fun. Apparently on Sunday mornings, the wait staff are allowed to come in their pajamas, which I thought would be hokey, but was simply amusing. We checked out the menu the day before and there were enough fun and awesome looking things on the menu that we lowered our “scared” quotient. I’ve generally found any place that serves bison is a place worth trying. We got there way early, canceled our later reservation and got seated right away.

I ended up with juevos rancheros which came on a tortilla with hasbrowns and black beans. Probably one of the top three juevos breakfasts I’ve ever had. I also ordered a side of thick cut bacon. The waiter actually asked me if I wanted them crispy, and I assured him I didn’t – this is the first time I’ve EVER been asked this. Major props to our waiter.

Gerd decided just to mix and match breakfast side dishes, so she ended up with bison sausage, baguettes with various toppings, weird potatoes, and pit ham. The meal ended up being REALLY good, minus the bison sausage which we had high hopes for. It ended up being kind of strong on the sage and onion portion. Also, don’t believe the hype on their homemade peanut butter.

The atmosphere is kind of hokey/creepy with black drapes and scary stuff and people with border-line costumes and makeup on, but there were enough white-bread tourists in there to lame it up enough that it’s not obnoxious. Check this place out if you get the chance. I understand there’s one in Minneapolis as well, if you’re not up for the drive.

Top 5 good things
1. The juevos were top-notch
2. The wait staff was really fun and responsive – big tips for these guys
3. Great menu, not just for breakfast or lunch
4. Wait staff in pajamas
5. Very generous portions

Bottom 5 things
1. Attracts a pretty vanilla crowd
2. Bread spreads were communal (ie, they came from other tables)
3. Really busy, so we saw some people waiting a long time
4. Wasn’t “hell-y” enough to be evil
5. Bison sausage fell waaay short of expectations

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