Hammer & Tong good for more than brunch

Hammer & Tong
Enter from Westgarth St.
Rear 412 Brunswick St
Fitzroy, VIC 03065

(03) 9041 6033

What do you get when two ex-Vue de Monde expats decide to open their own restaurant? A casual yet sophisticated eatery of an exceptionally high standard in the back streets of Fitzroy.

Hammer and Tong opened at the start of 2013 in the space that was previously The Brix. “They had very good taste,” says owner Dennis Ferreira of the previous inhabitants. “We basically got handed this very beautiful restaurant.” So the space was left virtually untouched when they moved in – same large windows, same open kitchen, same plants, even the same crockery. But Ferriera and chef Simon Ward have made the space their own, serving up Modern Australian fare with an Asian leaning.

While many may know the place as an excellent spot for breakfast and lunch, it’s worth noting they also have an excellent dinner menu from Tuesday through Saturday nights. The cocktail list is definitely worth a mention – all the classics are there like a Tom Collins, Boston Sour or Kamikaze, a steal at $15.00 each.

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The menu is designed to share, broken into small dishes and large dishes with a couple of sides. Since opening, the soft shell crab burger ($14.00) from the small dishes menu has been a staple. It’s a dish that pops up on a lot of menus around Melbourne, some good some bad, but this is definitely one of the better ones. The crab is crispy, the roll is fresh, and the whole thing will leave you wanting more.

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The smoked duck yolk and potato with chicken crackling & aruga caviar ($20.00) is a good example of what happens when gourmets do bar food. Drag your crispy chicken skin through the silky-smooth mash potato, breaking the egg yolk and scooping up some caviar as you go. It’s a real treat and just what you’d expect from guys like this.

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From the larger dishes, the Lebanese eggplant & paneer curry with angel hair chilli ($20.00) comes served with a grain salad to keep things interesting. Even though it’s vegetarian, the meaty eggplant and paneer are sure to leave you satisfied. It’s quite a light curry, not bogged down with heavy cream, with fresh flavours and a subtle hit of chilli.

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The twice cooked crispy pork, blood orange & star anise jus with curry spiced brussel sprouts and kale chips ($26.00) is one of the more ‘classic’ dishes on offer. The beautifully fatty pork with crispy crackling is well-balanced by the nutritious kale and brussel sprouts.

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But no meal would be complete without the hand cut chips with truffle mayonnaise ($9.50), the decadent truffle a subtle reminder of where these guys have come from. Never tried truffle mayonnaise? This is a good place to start.

MFF_HammerTong_Chips

To finish, the roasted coconut pannacotta with splice curd, kaffir lime and maluka honey flakes ($14.00) is as delicious as it is beautiful. Served in a petri-dish with a good wobble, the splice curd and matcha powder cut through the creamy coconut flavour.

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If you thought Brunswick st is only a place for hipsters and cheap eats you’d be wrong. Hammer &  Tong brings to the area a sophisticated eatery with serious pedigree. It’s a good place to take friends for a special occasion with cocktails, or for an intimate, casual dinner for two when you’re trying to impress.

Hammer & Tong on Urbanspoon

Posted in Fitzroy, Northern, Reviews | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

RSPCA’s Cupcake Day

MFF_Header_RSPCAToday is the RSPCA’s annual cupcake day, and so we have a special guest post from Sister E. RSPCA’s Cupcake Day is held in August every year, with Victorians encouraged to host cupcake fundraisers, such as morning teas and bake-offs, and donate the proceeds to the RSPCA. In 2013, Cupcake Day raised more than $1.2 million across Australia, that helped continue RSPCA’s tireless efforts to fight animal cruelty via their Inspectorate, animal shelters, veterinary clinics and educational services. In Victoria, the RSPCA receives less than 3% government funding and so rely heavily on the kindness and generosity of the public to continue their animal welfare work. So have a go at making some cute looking cupcakes and donate to this worthy cause here! – Sarah

MFF_RSPCA_CupcakesIn the spirit of today being the RSPCA’s Cupcake Day I bring to you a new cupcake creation to add to your repertoire – Cookies n Cream Chocolate Cupcakes… Pet Style!

This recipe is super simple and the icing technique is one of the easiest to do, the equation:
Your Favourite Chocolate Cupcake recipe (my one can be found here) + Your Favourite Vanilla Icing + Chocolate Biscuits = Deliciousness

Get creative with whatever you have in the pantry (or whatever pet you own!): plain biscuits for some golden retrievers, gingersnaps for some ginger cats, coconut for little Snowball… Endless possibilities!

It’s not too late to get involved with the fundraising, you can find all the information and where to donate here rspcacupcakeday.com.au

12 chocolate cupcakes
1 quantity vanilla icing
200g chocolate biscuits
200g large white chocolate buttons
200g small milk chocolate buttons
black, white and pink writing icing

  1. Bake 12 of your favourite chocolate cupcakes and make 1 quantity of your favourite vanilla icing (alternatively, use packet mix).
  2. Crush half the biscuits into your icing and stir to combine.
  3. Slather on around 1.5tbsp of the icing onto each cupcake, using a knife and roughly smoothing it over the top of the cupcake leaving a small border around the edge.
  4. Crush the remaining biscuits into a bowl
  5. Take each cupcake and dip it icing first into the bowl and lightly press down to stick the crumbs to the icing, you can be pretty rough with this!
  6. Then turn the cupcake onto a slight angle, dip and turn, so to coat the edges of the icing
  7. Once the icing is completely covered you can mold the icing with your hand and extra crumbs if need be, as I said, this technique is almost fool-proof!
  8. Cut the large white buttons into triangles for cat ears or in semi-circles for dog ears. Push into the cupcakes before piping the eyes, whiskers and mouth and adding a small chocolate button for the nose as pictured.

Makes 12

Posted in Dessert/Sweet, Recipes | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Punch Lane turns 20

Punch Lane
43 Little Bourke St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
(03) 9639 4944

In a time where it’s all about pop ups, rapidly changing food trends and no booking policies, it’s nice to see a Melbourne icon stand the test of time. Last week, Punch Lane in Melbourne’s Paris end celebrated 20 years with a small group of friends, family and media, a significant feat in a city where Gordan Ramsay and Manu Feildel failed to make it stick.

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Owner Martin Pirc has clearly worked out what Melbournians want, foregoing the evolving food trends and sticking to quality food and excellent service. Established in 1995, Punch Lane was ahead of it’s time, helping pioneer Melbourne’s renowned ‘laneway dining’ culture: “It happened unknowingly at the time, or maybe it was just by chance or luck… Being young, perhaps naïve and maybe even a little lucky, I settled upon the perfect set of circumstances with a corner block, an old red brick building of a bygone era and licensing laws that allowed you to be more flexible. I think a lot of this, and probably a lot of my career, has been intuitive. It just felt like the right combination of things for me.”

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Having undergone a recent renovation, the space remains as it was with dark timber, moody lighting, and rows upon rows of wine bottles that decorate the walls, creating a space that is sophisticated yet relaxed.

The seasonal European menu is short and carefully selected. Enjoy a glass of wine at the bar with a Prawn bonbon with chilli salt & lime ($5.00 each), Sheep’s haloumi with peppered raisins ($8.00) or pancetta wrapped dates with blue cheese ($6.00). Otherwise sit down and relax and choose off the full menu.

Entrees such as crispy quail, golden raisin & caper salad ($21.00), slow cooked salmon with caramelised yoghurt, bois boudran & sorrel ($21.00), or wagyu carpaccio with truffle dressing ($22.50) will whet your appetite before launching into mains like Black Angus scotch fillet ($42.00),  Roast Aylesbury duck breast ($39.00) or Barramundi and clams in “Aqua Pazza” aka crazy water ($38.00). Just ensure you save room for dessert.

But if you really can’t decide, opt for the “five course tour of the Punch Lane menu” for $74.00 a head.

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It’s not often a restaurant makes it to 20 years so when it does it speaks for itself. Catering to business lunches, after work drinks, group celebrations or intimate dinners for two, Punch Lane is landmark in Melbourne’s culinary landscape.

Punch Lane on Urbanspoon

Posted in CBD, Reviews | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Snag yourself a sailor in the middle of Hawthorn

Hello Sailor
89 Auburn Rd
Hawthorn, VIC 3122
(03) 9813 5560

Former naval medic Wade Nicholson-Doyle always dreamed of going into hospitality. So after spending the last decade at sea he’s finally found his land legs and opened the tiny cafe along Auburn rd called Hello Sailor. Naturally the place has a subtle nautical theme, with wooden planks and photos of sailors adorning the walls, and copper pipe light fittings hanging above the long cement counter than runs the entire length of the cafe. It’s a beautiful space, with gentle tones and timber combining to create a serene atmosphere.

The seasonal menu devised by MKR star Josh Geardand is short and sweet. It reads like a guide to Melbourne’s hottest suppliers: Seven Seeds coffee, Storm in a Teacup teas, Prana Chai, Mork Hot Chocolate, Cannings free range meats, fresh vegetables and fruit from the Yarra Valley, and fresh Victoria Market Juice. The bread is from Noisette and is available for purchase mid week and through the weekend.

The food is simple and tasty. The Salmon bagel with creme fraiche, dill and capers is bang on trend ($17.50), and come served with a side salad of mixed greens and radish. The salad, while a nice addition, comes dressed in a sweet emulsion that would have been better with more tang to cut through the richness of the salmon. But that’s me being picky.

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The crepe with mascarpone and berry compote is an elegant rendition of weekend pancakes ($16.50). It’s a nice enough dish, sure to keep many sweet tooths satisfied, but what lets it down is that the berries are obviously frozen. It’s a shame for a menu that’s supposedly seasonal.

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Hello Sailor is a warm, welcoming space with staff that are friendly and helpful. While the menu is decent, it lacks the refinement that you see at Melbourne’s top brunch spots, but will otherwise keep the less finicky happy. Even so, you’ll more than likely need to wait for a table during peak times so be sure to get in early. Though the coffee is Seven Seeds, it tends to be on the mild side so be sure to ask for it strong. But if you normally err on the strong side, maybe this isn’t the place for you.

Hello Sailor on Urbanspoon

Posted in Eastern, Hawthorn, Reviews | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

My Other Brother is a twin

My Other Brother
586 Burke Rd
Camberwell, VIC 3124
enter at rear
(03) 9804 0155

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On the wrong side of Burke Rd facing the carpark home to the Sunday Camberwell Market is My Other Brother. The food is your usual Melbourne brunch fare, with owner Julien Moussi’s mum making the labneh for some of the dishes. The coffee is top notch, available either cold drip, filter, syphon, or V60 pourover as well as your usual offerings using the house blend Moody Sister. Talk about keeping it in the family.

You may recognise the space as the former Carpark Cafe, but it’s had a facelift. With the capacity to fit over 100 patrons, the space is bright and airy, with your typical Melbourne styling: pale timber, white subway tiles, and a large central table for communal dining.

The menu too is typical Melbourne, with plenty of fan favourites like the ‘McBrother’ (a gourmet version of the McMuffin similar to Porgie’s), or smashed avocado with grilled mushrooms on sourdough. But the problem with copying others is that it leaves you open to comparison, and sadly The Annoying Brother incarnation falls just short of the benchmark.

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It’s the same story for the corn and haloumi fritters with smoked salmon and avocado: not a bad dish but you can find better. The optional poached egg is perfectly cooked, and the salmon and avocado do their bit, but the fritters are stodgy, leaving a crumbled mess on the plate after a few mouthfuls, while the haloumi is MIA.

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With a menu that aims to please everyone, of course there’s bircher museli, but this time it’s with apple and rhubarb, topped with pommegranate and chia seeds. Served fashionably in a jar, the museli sits on a thick layer of rhubarb compote, leaving this dish to straddle the line between breakfast and dessert, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

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It seems Camberwell’s cafes are slowly undergoing a hipster transformation to be more like their northside rivals, but all this copying gives me deja vu. My Other Brother is a decent cafe with good atmosphere and coffee with pretty good food, but lacks originality by Melbourne standards. It’s a carbon copy of all the other popular brunch spots around town. Looks like My Other Brother is a twin.

My Other Brother on Urbanspoon

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