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Jul 25, 2011 04:18 PM

Forget anything good you have heard for breakfast/brunch

I have loved, loved, loved Hell's Kitchen in the past. True, I haven't been there since they changed locations. A group of 5 of us went this past Saturday morning. We had 8:45 reservations. Going on line 2 weeks ago, there were reservation options from 7-8:45 and 12:45 and after. After some deliberation, I selected 8:45. We arrived promptly and were quickly seated, as there were only about 5 other tables of diners. By the time our food arrived at 9:15, there was a line and chatter and the lines continued, with a 30-60 minute wait. They simply don't take reservations between 8:45 and 12:45. I would have appreciated them being transparent about that. Our waitress brought us water and was ready to take our order. We hadn't really had a chance to open the menu. I was with others who had never been before....they were looking at the surroundings and soaking things in. Our waitress was gone brusquely. She reappeared perhapds 3 minutes later and then told us the specials in the most incredibly rushed voice you can imagine. it wasn't that they were busy. We began looking at the menu and I mentioned their famous peanut butter, sausage bread, and porridge. We were discussing them because they are unique and one needs to look at the menu descriptions - it isn't like a simple order of scrambled eggs and 2 slices bacon, for example. Again our waitress was back. We ordered beverages and it was clear that she was miffed that we weren't ready to order. Note - we had been sitting for 7 minutes tops! When she came back with our beverages, we ordered. the sense of rushing continued. She'd literally snatch the menu from our hands and be on to the next person before each had placed their order. So it went. Suffice it to say, we were rushed! Our food came in decent time - not fast, but not an overly long wait either. Lemon ricotta pancakes and the special Reeses peanut butter pancakes were declared wonderful. Another guest had the biscuits and gravy. It was plentiful, but the taste was only of spicy sausage and the biscuits were a very thick hard variety that the gravy could not permeate. I ordered one of their menu features - heuvos rancheros. It was luke warm and a pile of globs. I could not cut the tortilla, despite it being served with a steak knife. The overall flavor was from the cloyingly sweet "salsa". It was awful. I was embarassed to have brought guests. I will NEVER go back. Poor service will be trumped by great food and very good food with only good service will be OK with me also. I do not recommend you waste your time on a breakfast or brunch at Hell's Kitchen. Whatever has gone wrong with them?

Hell's Kitchen
80 South 9th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402

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  1. Success, many people follow there is a mentality that if it is busy it is good/

    1. Yup. It's been awful since they moved.

      It's for visitors or those that can appreciate the cheekiness and ignore the poor service and hit or miss food.

      With all the choices in town for good breakfast...

      1 Reply
      1. re: Foureyes137

        The theatre/novelty are great. The menu is fascinating. The execution needs a lot more work all around. They need to pay more attention to detail - on the service, physical space, and food.

      2. :( . Sorry you had a bad experience. This is not boding well for HK.

        At least you still still get some of their signature "to go": peanut butter, bison sausage bread... Or cook it yourself from Damn Good Food.


        1. What I experienced in my recent breakfast at Hell's Kitchen is GREAT food and friendly, efficient service. I loved the porridge and I loved the bread pudding, and the atmosphere only added to the enjoyment. I was treated well throughout, from the hostess at the entrance to the server for my table. Sounds like other members of the OP's party also had GREAT food, since they declared their dishes "wonderful". Hell's Kitchen is a great place with terrific food and a fun attitude, a real local treasure.

          Hell's Kitchen
          80 South 9th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402

          9 Replies
          1. re: nsxtasy

            To clarify: You're a visitor to the Twin Cities, correct? I know my sisters in law think this place is good, but it seems to be because they live in Milwaukee and there is a dearth of good breakfast places there...

            When you have places like Moose & Sadies, Zumbro, Colossal, Tilia, Meritage, Al's, etc to compare to just doesn't hold up for us.

            And finally...a breakfast place without windows...

            1. re: Foureyes137

              I live in Chicago, so of course I don't have any references for comparison. Well, none other than Bongo Room, M. Henry / M. Henrietta, Southport Grocery, Marmalade, Orange, Jam, Kitsch'n, Walker Brothers, Lou Mitchell's, Wishbone, Flo, Toast, Milk 'n' Honey, Hot Chocolate, Kanela Breakfast Club, and Lulu Belle's, as well as breakfast places I've been to in other cities like Griddle Cafe in L.A. (And I'm just mentioning the places open for breakfast every day, without even getting into lunch/dinner places that do brunch on weekends.) I've been to all of those, and Hell's Kitchen is comparable in quality with the best of that group; the food is outstanding, the service is friendly, and the attitude is entertaining. But obviously my opinion doesn't matter, because I'm a visitor from out of town. :rolleyes:

              Incidentally, as far as I can tell, some of the MSP places you mention aren't even open for breakfast during the week, and some have a very conventional, ordinary breakfast menu with the same old eggs and pancakes you find everywhere. So I guess Minneapolis doesn't really have a whole lot of creative breakfast places that are comparable to Hell's Kitchen after all. Too bad - if you had more breakfast places, you might appreciate just how good Hell's Kitchen really is!

              1. re: nsxtasy

                now let's all calm down. maybe everyone's right. :)

                i've said a few times that hk isn't *bad* since it moved-- it's inconsistent. i've certainly gotten the good ol' hk treatment since the move, with excellent, well-executed and inventive food. and on other occasions i've gotten stuff that was dialed in. i miss the fun specials at the old hk, i still remember a lobster benedict with sweet corn hollandaise that was ridiculous from like 10 years ago. but what are you going to do, when your seating capacity suddenly triples or quadruples or quintuples, or whatever? quality will suffer. mitch is still there doing the food, but one person can't execute everything every day no matter how relentlessly obsessed they are. . . and not every cook currently at hk was a founding force there. i'm leaving aside their lunch and dinner menus, which imo are not on the same level as the breakfasts.

                the local vs. visitor thing comes mainly out of a little problem in msp called: a great dearth of decent breakfast places downtown, apart from hotels and apart from hell's kitchen. me being a local, i avoid hk on weekends, i don't want to deal with the lines and the schtick. it's fun once in a while for a change of pace when i've got an out-of-town guest who i know will dig the concept, but as far as the locals are concerned there's plenty of good/excellent brunch elsewhere. but most of us can get around better than a downtown hotel guest who may/may not have a car. regarding some of the other frequently rec-ed local joints, for example al's--sure, al's is great. but it's tiny and inconvenient and you gotta park in dinkytown and they only take cash and your party gets split up into pairs because there is literally 13 stools and there is a waiting line behind seated diners and out the door in all weathers and there is no lingering over your cuppa joe, the waitress has folks waiting for your stool so pay up, bub and let's move your butt out. . . yeah i love al's but there are issues with rec-ing the place to less tenacious hounds for various reasons, and honestly, i avoid thinking about whether al's is worth a cab ride both ways from downtown, or the bus ride time that a visitor could spend in museums, parks, or walking along the riverfront. . . i think most msp hounds feel comfortable rec-ing that a visitor grab a cab or a nice ride bike in order to get to a great local restaurant for *dinner*-- but for breakfast?

                i think that another prob is that with some notable exceptions, the best food in msp is not in restaurants downtown, and the best restaurants downtown don't do breakfast.

                1. re: nsxtasy

                  So, yes?

                  And if we had more places that put ricotta cheese in pancakes and meat in bread I might be able to tell how good it is, but probably not, as it isn't when executed poorly, as it has been the last 5 or 6 times we've been. Arguing about whether it is good won't get us anywhere, however it's fair to say those of us that live here and eat out have eaten there more frequently than someone who lives in Chicago and have broader base of comparison as to what it was and what it is...which is to say, a shadow.

                  We don't have many creative places like your super-awesome list of restaurants (I presume), but it also appears we eat breakfast at home during the week (business travelers in this town alone cannot sustain a breakfast opening unless you are within 6 blocks of a building with more than 15 occupied floors, not to mention when I travel for work...I rarely go eat a giant breakfast before getting to it, but that's me) so when we go out on the weekends, I propose we have to be judicious...I'll take quality and consistency over creative and inconsistent any day..

                  I'm not trying to be a dick about it, just pointing out that there may be a different expectation.

                  1. re: nsxtasy

                    Hi, I agree that you don't have to be a native to know a good breakfast place. I live here, am a Chicago native, and like to think I appreciate creative breakfast places. Wishbone and Bite used to be two of my go-to places for breakfast. But I have to tell you, I've never been impressed with Hell's Kitchen. I've always found it ho hum. So perhaps it's about personal taste and what you personally find interesting. Just an idea.

                    Hell's Kitchen
                    80 South 9th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402

                    1. re: scarter66

                      Curious. Since I don't know how long you've lived here, I'm wondering if you tried HK at its old location and if you found it ho hum then. Or, is your assessment of "ho hum" entirely based on HK at its new location.

                      And, of course, you don't have to reside here to know a good breakfast. And just because a place isn't as good as it used to be or isn't as good as other places, doesn't necessarily make it bad or mean that someone can't have a good experience there, especially if the primarily complaint for those who remember "the way it used to be" is that it's inconsisent. If it's inconsistent, it might be entirely possible to have a great experience there. It sounds like nsxtasy had a great experience and I'm glad she hit them on a good day.


                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        DQ, I've eaten in both locations. And I don't know why it wasn't anything special to me, it just wasn't. The food was fine, just nothing that would make me want to go back. I did really like the feel of the old space though versus the new space.

                    2. re: nsxtasy

                      I lived in Minneapolis for eight years and frequented Hell's Kitchen in both the old and new locations. I've been to HK a few times over the past two years, when I get into town. In my experience, it's always been consistently good.

                      That's all that anyone on this board can report -- their own experiences. It's silly for anyone here to be claiming to speak for some larger "we." Unless they're Borg.

                      Hell's Kitchen
                      80 South 9th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402

                      1. re: Jordan

                        Or unless the "we" is you are your wife. I don't eat breakfast alone unless I'm at a Hampton Inn.

                2. I had reviewed prior posts and asked for downtown breakfast comment to the 'ify' breakfast situation downtown was - someone needs to open something! :) I'll be in town again this coming weekend and may try Firelake. It is interesting...most of the hotels downtown were full to capacity on Saturday night (I know that from talking with the Foshay's front desk) could make some money! I'm not sure if it is implied in some of the messages or not....but, it seemed that HK's menu selection was smaller. ?? We happened to be downtown and those I was travelling with weren't open to a car trip for breakfast. I'm also sorry about recent posts about Maria's. I never got there when it was consistently good. Cheers to all the discussion about this topic - even if it is disagreeable; people's perspectives are fascinating.

                  31 South 7th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: mhcpita

                    I'm going to stick up for Maria's since this is how rumors/reputations develop. I am a reasonably regular customer at Maria's and have not seen a consistency problem with them. I just took a quick look at the archives for the past year and there was a single post about a bad meal there. I'm sorry the poster had a bad experience, but I think that's a long ways away from a conclusion that the place is inconsistent or has gone downhill. (Which, it appears, is a much different case than HK...)

                    If others have had bad experiences at Maria's I'm happy to stand corrected.

                    1. re: bob s

                      Thanks for this post, Bob. That was exactly what I was thinking.