From Rundle Street you can see little more than a narrow staircase, plunging into a basement offering a pink glow. As you descend the stairs you are Hellbound, but not to a place of torment and punishment. Despite having an abundance of sinful delights this bar is anything but damned.
The menu is substantial, yet focused. It starts off with “Just a Glass?” I love that it’s a question –like they know you’ll be staying for more. On this list there is something to please everyone with prices ranging from $8 to $17 edging up to $30 for an extravagant red and $81 for “one of the world’s greatest Chardonnays”! A range of fortified wines are also offered by the glass.
Now being a wine bar the focus, clearly is on wine. There are only 2 cocktails on the menu – A reinvented Negroni and The Hellbound Martini, great for those who like theirs dirty. A few beer and ciders are given look in and if the likes of a gin and tonic or a vodka rocks is your thing – they’ve got you covered.
Now…back to the wine. The bottle list sticks to regions. This encourages those who rarely stray from their favourite wine to try a different varietal from that region. The list is long but not overwhelming. The price point – well there is something for every budget.
A couple of drinks in we were ready for some food. Hellbound doesn’t have a kitchen so everything is put together behind the bar. There are little snacks of the likes of crisps, olives and peanuts. The bigger snacks proved to be substantial, tasty and I was overwhelmed by their sophistication given their humble beginnings. We start by smothering thick slices of bread with Whipped Tahini, date butter and chunky hazelnut dukkah. It’s the Hellbound signature dish with good reason. The irresistible fluffy tahini paired with the sweet date butter is a sumptuous match.
Next up a delectable, creamy Burrata with an almost liquid centre is paired with slices of Russian tomato and plum topped with fried curry leaves. Again we use bread to mop up all the components making a tantalizing medley.
We finish off with The Hellbound Sandwich – Layers of pastrami, loads of pickles and seeded mustard in thick soft white bread. It’s bursting with flavour and the side of crisps works nicely for a rustic finish.
What I liked the most was the unpretentious vibe that so many wine bars lack. So it turns out that Hell is actually comfortable and welcoming. If this is the afterlife for a life of sin…sign me up!
Words by Kate Wilkinson
WHERE: 201 Rundle St, Adelaide