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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Melbourne: Three Brunches of 2014 (Hammer & Tong)

Hammer & Tong at Brunswick St, Fitzroy.

My last brunch spot after a skiing trip was at Hammer & Tong.  Still trending on the Melbourne’s top 10 eating list, this place sports your usual Fitzroy vibe with a simple fit out and hipster dressed crew.  As Hammer & Tong was the brainchild of a ex-Vue de Monde chef, my expectations were rather high.  Or if you prefer, astronomical.  

My first dish was Hammer & Tong’s classic Soft Shell Crab burger ($14).

Crispy, with a slight hint of roe between this fluffy bun, it was no surprise that the Soft Shell Crab burger is an instant hit among diners.  It was not because it was unusual, but rather, the combination is a no-brainer. Who hate deep fried stuff between buns!?  Pair that with some mayo and refreshing coleslaw, it was just sensational. to The biggest merit is the deep fried crab which was not dripping in oil!  For $14 bucks though, it was a microscopic meal which means more food required, so I ordered the zucchini and corn fritters ($18) to my meal.

At Hammer & Tong, the fritters were actually crisp unlike the one I had at Mart 130 before!  With one poached egg to merry the lot with the avocado, parmesan and homemade tomato chutney, it was actually a pretty good eat.  BUT, it was again, another microscopic meal.

XL on the other hand ordered the ramen.  Translucent onsen egg, mushrooms, bacon, spring onions on a bacon dashi base.  The intent here was clear from start to end.  Hammer & Tong's use of bacon not only provided a saltiness to the dish, but at the same time a sense of smokiness. A truly unusual dish, but with two bacon elements together, it felt too salty for my liking. But for an brunch place, it was a good attempt.  
Breakfast Ramen; 62c hens egg, bacon, oyster mushroom, spring onion, bacon dashi

At Hammer & Tong, the menu is creative with unique ingredients making their way to the menu.  Soft shell crab, ramen, and duck eggs to mention a few.  But at the end of the day, this place still presents brunch at a level already available in town.  Least to say, brunch here was satisfying.  My biggest dislike though were the microscopic serves.  Without two meals, you go home feeling half the man you were before you walked in. If I had to queue to get in (most did) which was probably gonna be very long at peak hours, I’d be gutted to be served that a burger that pathetic size.  Yay or Nay?  Yay, but with caution.

Looking for Brunch?  Check out my Melbourne Brunches in 2014


 Hammer & Tong on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Melbourne: Three Brunches of 2014 (Operator 25)

Operator 25 at Wills St, Melbourne CBD

If you do not like to queue but have no intentions on sacrificing on quality, where do you go?  Frequented by my fellow Melbourne residents, is Operator 25.  Coming in closer to 11am, it was barely three-quarters full and we easily got a sit inside. Wow, high ceilings and an airy sitting area too? Operator 25 just seems to have it all at that point.  But can the kitchen deliver?    


Greeted and served with no delay, the menu was soon in my hands.  A quick flick and I decided on the Balinese Pulled Pork and Coleslaw on Brioche roll with Sweet Potato Wedges ($19).  Why bother with the staples like the boring big breakfast no?
Biting into that soft buttery brioche was a familiar Balinese taste.  Not it was no Babi Guling or Naughty Nuri’s, instead it tasted like my very own ex-colleague Mei’s Indonesian pork dish with notes of fragrant lemon grass, turmeric and other spices pounded together.   The delicious and tender pulled pork made this roll simply irresistible.   Fresh coriander which also happens to be a favourite herb of mine was there to ensure that the meal never gets to overwhelming due to its meaty nature.  Also, do not forget about the yummy sweet potato wedges.  It was very, I repeat, very delicious. 

My friend KK on the other hand opted for his usual fix, the House Benedict with Grandmother Ham, eggs, and Hollandaise on a Rosti ($15).  Definitely would have ordered that if I knew they used a potato rosti instead of the boring English muffin. 
The Hollandaise here had a runnier texture than usual but was still every bit flavourful.  The Grandmother Ham tasted smokier than usual too but I was not sure whether it was just me being overly sensitive or it actually was.  Was it a yummy bite?  I surely think it was :)!

An eye catching dessert of Vanilla Custard Sago, Rhubarb, Raspberry Foam and Honeycomb/Meringue ($9) gave our brunch a sweet ending.  I do not remember seeing a dessert so pretty ever for a price below $10.  This might be a first in a very long time indeed! And boy did it taste good.
Mild in sweetness, the dessert was bursting from the natural sweetness of the rhubarb and honeycomb/meringue.  Pair it with the sour berry foam and it was all very well-balanced.  Bite into the bouncy textures of the little sago pearl, roll it around, have another spoon of the airy foam.  Repeat.  Nirvana achieved.

Operator 25 was a surprise candidate for me, but for my Melbourne friends it was simply another day in the big city.  If mainstream delights like the Hardware Société does not score well in your books, here is where you belong.  Not regrets for sure.  In fact, this was my top brunch in this big city.  For 2 people with a dessert to share would have costed no more than $26/27.  (No guarantee of queue-less weekends!)

Looking for Brunch?  Check out my Melbourne Brunches in 2014

Operator25 on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Melbourne: Three Brunches of 2014 (Hardware Société)

Ever since I visited Melbourne 7 years ago, I have envied the lifestyle here.  Shopping and eating usually came tops but after NYC, I found that exploring the little lane ways that divides the city into small navigable plots was an even more enjoyable thing to do as a tourist as you never know what lies behind the next corner.   Putting likes aside, my most recent trip here is proof to why Melbourne is easily the brunch capital of Australia.  If you plan on visiting Melbourne, this 3-part breakfast/brunch post is WenY's verdict on the city's 3 hot spots!  With queues out of the door by 8 at most of them, you have been warned.  Go or not to go?  Your choice ;)!

Hardware Société at Hardware Ln, Melbourne CBD
My first stop at 7.30 in the morning was Melbourne’s top brunch spot, the Hardware Société.  I scanned the little eatery and found that it was no surprise that this place had hour long queues during weekends as it only seats 30-40 people.  However, solo dining in this “French” spot is a breeze at that time and I was immediately seated at the bar.

My breakfast was quick to arrive that morning and no it was not their famous baked eggs (too boring!). Instead I opted for a dish of crisp pork belly .  Damn it was good. For starters, the pork belly had the right seasoning and was soft through with its the skin crisp just right.  It did not have that bubbled crackling but a smooth crisp shard which had no intention of sticking between your teeth.  For presentation which I press hard at times, the eggs were picture perfect with its runny yolk trickling down ever so slowly onto the plate.  Damn it was a sight to behold. But ultimately, pinching bits of the plate and having them together was simply yums.
Pork belly, polenta hash, fried eggs, caramelised onions and aioli $18.

A delicious breakfast and a pot of tea was the right kick-start to my first morning.   But fancy apostrophe naming paired with gargantuan publicity also meant that by 8.20,  queues were out of the door.  As Melbourne’s favourite spot, was it all hype?  Definitely not.  But if I had to queue for a long time, I would rather not.

Looking for Brunch?  Check out my Melbourne Brunches in 2014

The Hardware Société on Urbanspoon