Hammer & Tong, Fitzroy

412 Brunswick St Fitzroy | 9401 6033
We went: Sunday June 15 2014 | Verdict: 17/25

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Mon 7am-4pm | Tues – Sat 7am-11pm | Sun  7am-4pm
http://www.hammerandtong.com.au/

In a nutshell: waiting to go there, waiting for a table, waiting for awesome, still waiting… Given the daily queues for this place I doubt this review will hurt them one bit.

Food: four words… SOFT SHELL CRAB BURGER.  Pretty as a picture, if you can leave it long enough to take one. At $12, this could be Melbourne’s best and tastiest brunch bargain.

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We also ordered the duck egg, oyster mushrooms, truffle butter etc. Again, points for presentation, however this one didn’t live up to the hype. It wasn’t offensive – quite the contrary, it was highly edible. It just wasn’t ‘WOW’. The oyster mushrooms seem to be more of a texture choice, not really adding any real taste to the dish.


Lastly, which in hindsight may have been a mistake, we had the corn. Why go to a fancy cafe and order corn, you ask. I think I am a sucker for a well-described dish. This didn’t appear as merely ‘corn’ on the menu, it read bbq corn cob, popcorn butter, pecorino, lime ($9). I think the popcorn butter and pecorino (which I had no idea was cheese) got me. Another underwhelming dish. 3/5

Coffee: didn’t catch the beans they use. I ordered a single origin pour over. It was a little bit hot which caused the coffee to be bitter. It settled down when it cooled and was acceptable. 3/5Image

Vibe: they’re clearly going for uber-cool. Whether they achieve it is debatable. It’s a weird space… narrow and a bit cramped. Wait staff look like they just stepped out of a modelling audition. That said, they are friendly and served us well. The door guy doubles up as a waiter and is pretty frantic as he moves on people once their meals are done and invites new people to fill the void. We got a little tired of waiting, especially when this place doesn’t quite deliver on its reputation. 3/5

Staff: one guy started name dropping, saying he used to work at Vue de Monde. Who cares?! Just make us tasty brunch, dude! 3/5

Ka-ching: < $40 for two pax… surprisingly outstanding value. 5/5Image

 
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Wee Jeanie, Yarraville

50 Anderson Street, Yarraville | 9687 7187
We went: Sun May 25 2014 | Verdict: 21.5/25

menu

Tues – Sat 7am- 4.30pm
Facebook page

In a nutshell: sister cafe of Yarraville staple Cornershop that punches well above its weight for food and coffee.

Food: I had the pulled ham hock ciabatta which was delicious. Served with spicy tomato kusundi, cheddar and cos, this fancy toasty was crunchy and tasty.

ciabatta

The braised white beans with poached gammon leg and fried egg was as pretty as a picture. The fried egg sits neatly atop the mound of white beans and then, dotted throughout the sauce are exquisite morsels of poached gammon that just melt in your mouth. Great combination of flavours.

white beans

These guys don’t seem too perturbed by having such a tiny kitchen. For this reason, they don’t have the most extensive menu. However, what they do have, they do well and quickly.  3.5/5

filter

Coffee: Brazilian single origin through the v60 pour over filter. Quite fruity. Very drinkable. Their blend is Supreme (organic and Fairtrade). 5/5

soy latte

Vibe: two options for dining, inside and out. While there is only a handful of seats inside, it’s a pleasant vibe. The baristas are good at what they do so it’s a good spot for watching them, observing the Yarraville foot traffic or diving into a paper. There are plenty of tables outside. It can get windy out there and it’s quite shady but on a warm day it’s a good spot. 4/5

 

barista

Service: very good service on the two occasions we’ve been here. Waiters are inconspicuous, which is how you want them sometimes. 4/5

Ka-ching: under $40 for two meals and coffee. 5/5

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Premises, Kensington

202 Bellair Street Kensington | 9376 7565
We went: Thursday May 22 | Verdict: 22.5/25

ImageMon-Fri 7am-4.30pm, Sat-Sun 8am-4pm
http://thepremises.com.au/

In a nutshell: the best brunch cafe in Kensington bar none.

Food: I scanned the menu up and down but couldn’t seem to find anything that took my fancy. Then I laid eyes on the corned beef and potato hash with sauerkraut, mustard aioli and a poached egg. I probably don’t need to tell you how delicious this was for the description alone inspires salivation. But I will. The charred corned beef were like nuggets of gold buried amongst the sauerkraut, which by dish’s end was smothered in gooey fiery red egg, which minutes earlier perched proudly atop the brunch masterpiece. An aioli moat lay at the base of the food fortress, however would have been of little use in battle given how tasty it was (and the fact there was nothing to protect after just five minutes). This was one of my favourite Melbourne brunches.

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Usually when my wife and I do brunch, one of us gets food envy. Not so at Premises. Both of us claimed to have the best dish. She ordered the Mushies and Greens, which consisted of delectable mushrooms scattered amongst kale, seasonal fungi and a poached egg – all on buttered, crunchy organist multi-grain toast. “It was just literally delicious,” she said. “It was well seasoned and had this chilli kick. It was amazing.” The menu appears a little “salt heavy” with plenty of salty options, but this shouldn’t be viewed as a bad thing. There is an ad in the window for a new chef. Seems the current one is doing ok. 5/5

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Coffee: the folks at Premises take a lot of pride in their coffee. When we went they had three single origin options, two from Africa and one from South America. The providers were Seven Seeds and Market Lane. I ordered the Rwandan one from Market Lane. I have heard good things about Market Lane but never had their coffee. Fair to say, I’ll be having them again. The V60 pour over was brewed to perfection, bringing out the rich raspberry character of the beans without being too overpowering. I will be back to try the other ones. 5/5

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Vibe: this place probably won’t win any awards for interior design but what it does have going for it is there are a number of spaces to sit plus about 10 tables on the footpath. It’s a great place to sit in the window and watch the Kensington locals go about their business, or just chill and chew the fat. 4/5

Service: decent enough. The girl behind the counter (owner?) came out to apologise for the lack of tasting notes (I must have looked like a wanker) after they had all been stolen by other customers. She was manually typing up more (respect!) 4.5/5

Ka-ching: meals, plus coffees = around $60. 4/5

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Three Bags Full, Abbotsford

56 Nicholson Street Abbotsford | 9421 2732
We went: Sat 17 May | Verdict: 23 / 25

ImageMon-Fri 7am-4.30pm, Sat-Sun 8am-4.30pm
http://www.threebagsfullcafe.com.au/

In a nutshell: slick operation in superb-an Melbourne brunch pocket. Queues out the door on weekends.

Food: the folks at Three Bags Full pride themselves on “keeping it simple”. Their recipe alchemy is all about imaginative dishes where the flavours of every ingredient complement each other beautifully.

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Our evidence: pulled pork shoulder brioche ($13), one of the specials – the Zucchini French Toast ($17) – and the Veggie Brekky ($19). I had the pork brioche. It seems I’m on a mission to try every pulled pork bun in Melbourne. This one is up there. Simple, creamy slaw complements the pork really well, and they give you a small side of pickles that you can add yourself. The lemon wedge was also a nice touch.

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The Zucchini French Toast was quite a heavy dish. The relish was “delicious”, the poached eggs “perfect” but overall, “the dish was just a bit much”. The Veggie Brekky was “a bit pedestrian”, said my mate. “It would have been nice to see them do something a bit special with it. I could have done that at home.” 3.5/5

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 Coffee: Not as many single origin options as neighbouring cafe Admiral Cheng Ho, but that doesn’t mean these guys don’t take it seriously. Quite the contrary. As you can see from the pictures below, my pour-over filter brew arrived on a wooden tray and in what looked like an medieval glass medicine container. Accompanying it was what I thought was a small glass of Jamison whisky with ice (never too early, especially before a bucks day!)… Alas, it was a palette cleanser. That’s right, the wank-o-metre just exploded. I needed to know what it was. “It’s called cascara,” our waiter said. “It’s the berry of the coffee that has been processed and we’ve infused it with sparkling water.”

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The coffee in the brown jar is a single origin from Ninety Plus Gesha Estates from Ethiopia. What makes it special is it has been ‘dry processed’ (sometimes called ‘natural’ coffee), meaning the beans were dried inside the fruit rather than after the fruit has been removed, as is the case with wet-processed or washed coffees. The taste, like most African single origins, was very fruity/citrus without being bitter. Very smooth. A nice drop. And extended tasting notes to boot. This bad boy meant to set me back a tenner, but I was only charged $8 (for some reason). 5/5

Vibe: Good vibe but it can get so busy that it’s hard to hear the person next to you. If you don’t like crowds or congestion, best avoid. 4.5/5

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Service: Service with a smile. Good coffee knowledge. Staff look like they want to be there and enjoy working there. 5/5

Ka-ching: $86 for the four of us, which included a $10 coffee and an extra chai. 5/5

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