How many cool cafes can one suburb hold? Fitzroy already has a wealth of great places to get your coffee and brunch on but you can add another one to the list with the recent opening of Hammer and Tong. I first went there for brunch with my friend Magda and then I was invited back to check out Hammer and Tong’s new Spring menu for dinner.
The cafe is communist by name but the most sharing you have to do is of your table. The fit out is that industrial, warehouse chic which is so Fitzroy and staff play along with their hipster uniform of beards and skinny jeans.
Nothing new or startling here but both the food and coffee are excellent at Hammer and Tong. The pretentiously named “baked eggs in tomato fondue” ($18) is actually brilliant. The eggs are hidden in a layer of cheesy manchego goodness and served up with slices of spicy chorizo and flat bread to mop up the rich, tomato sauce.
Hammer and Tong uses top shelf ingredients which shine through in its breakfast dishes. The poached egg and bacon muffin with hollandaise sauce ($17) is all the better for the juicy slab of Istra bacon which is the star of the show.
The super cool looking Kees van der Western Spirit coffee machine delivered a smooth latte ($3.80) with a great finish made with Dukes coffee and the hipster staff were not too hip to produce a “magic” as well. For those of you who don’t know (like me) a magic has a ratio of 1:4 between the espresso and textured milk.
When I returned to Hammer and Tong for dinner I discovered that, like brunch, the evening menu is full of surprises. The food is quite technical but still tasty. Take the duck egg yolk which is cooked at 62c and then served with asparagus, truffles and croutons made from brioche. I have a mantra that everything tastes better with brioche and it was certainly true in this case. Another highlight was the melt in the mouth wagyu beef teamed with gloriously rich bone marrow and a tart vinaigrette.
Hammer & Tong brings food with a difference and a little bit of fun to Fitzroy’s cafe scene. I’ll be back for the pancakes with popping candy.
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Gourmet Chick has visited Hammer and Tong twice, once anonymously s a paying customer and once by invitation.
Details: Hammer & Tong, 412 Brunswick St Fitzroy 3065 (Ph 03 9041 6033) Open Tues – Sat 7am – late, Sun 8am-5pm.