The Hell of the North is the name given to a one-day, 260km bike event in the north of France, considered to be hellish due to the roads ridden during the race, many of which are cobbled with bluestone. When Adam Ferrante, co-owner of new Fitzroy bistro Hell of the North, was building the interior, it was such hard work that notions of hell sprung to mind. “We made jokes about the project being the Hell of the North,” he laughs. “It just stuck. The majority of the building is bluestone, it’s heritage-listed so it was hard work and we had to be careful to make the right changes.”
Ferrante knows Fitzroy well. His other business is the Rose Street Artists’ Market, which he runs with his brother Christian, and at his new place, he has joined forces with sommelier Mark Grixti, who was at The European for the last three years.
Hell of the North is where the Lambs Go Bar once sat on the Smith Street end of Greeves Street. Now a bar and bistro, Ferrante describes the space as “elegant but casual”.
“The brief was about the idea of a French wine press with the warmth of wood as well as the idea of a crucible, but modern and relaxed.” There’s the warmth of wood with an industrial edge, but they’ve added classic bistro touches, brass and blackened steel to a room that was once on the shabby side.
The space designed by Lucas Chirnside of SMLWRLD is contained, cosy and modern. The food is termed as classic bistro, but don’t think just French. “It’s more international than that,” says Ferrante, “with broad flavours. I think the food component is as important as the drinking one.” Grixti’s wine list is an eclectic mix of mostly European wines.
It’s a good thing, as the Hell of the North is a place where liver pate and steak tartare sit nicely between a bottle of wine with friends.