It’s easy to find a restaurant that serves a decent breakfast but difficult to find one that stands head and shoulders above the rest. To enjoy the best morning meal I’ve ever had, the wife and I went to Hell’s Kitchen in downtown Minneapolis, home of lemon ricotta pancakes so perfect they’re worth eternal damnation.
The wife and I first ate at Hell’s Kitchen a year and a half ago, when we were in town with friends for a USC football game. The breakfast was fabulous and hearty, highlighted by my brisket omelette and the aforementioned flapjacks, which were so fluffy and perfectly sweet they required not a bit of syrup. In town again recently for a wedding, a return visit was our top priority (aside from the wedding, of course; congratulations Jess and Eric!).
Game face time: After working out to diminish the guilt of the approaching orgy of cholesterol and coffee, we walked two blocks from our hotel to Hell’s, which is just down the street from the convention center. Every table was full and the waiting area was standing room only, but luckily our friends already staked their claim to a booth that enjoyed a prime view of a TV showing the NFL Draft and a live band that looked and sounded like Peter, Paul & Mary.
As you would imagine by the name, the decor at Hell’s is, um, devilish – the walls are splashed with red and black, and the stage is dominated by a ghoulish statue that looks like a prop from “The Omen.” Portraits hung on the restroom walls show a normal person when viewed from one angle, then a rotting corpse when viewed from another. Every server has a tattoo or piercing that grandmama would consider non-standard. You would be the oddball if you walked in with a popped collar and Hush Puppies, Hoya Saxa.
But the food! Ah yes, that’s why we were there again! And those lemon ricotta pancakes, which were our version of The Cask of Amantillado.
One pattern we noticed was the large number of pregnant women there, including a member of our party. Was there something in the water? In the pancakes?! Put down that fork!
The appetizers could’ve substituted for our main meal. The seven of us shared a gooey cinnamon roll and a chunk of bread pudding.
One friend ordered a bowl of wild rice porridge, which was apparently featured as one of the top 50 breakfasts in the U.S. on some Travel Channel program.
Another friend lived up to his heritage and put Huevos Rancheros on his eating agenda. I had the chicken chow mein scramble.
Just kidding. I ordered the All-American Breakfast (’cause we’re in America, ya feel me?), featuring bison sausage and hash browns. I thought my scrambled eggs were a little too runny, but they suited the wife just fine.
The price tag was comparable to any other restaurant. Breakfast for two cost about $25 minus a nice tip for the server (who didn’t charge us for drinks). If you ever find yourself in the Twin Cities, put Hell’s Kitchen on your list of “must-sees,” alongside Brett Favre’s Crocs and George Mikan’s goggles.