It’s a head-scratching situation that most of us are familiar with – when visitors come, where should you take them out to eat? Whether you are in Melbourne or elsewhere, you would always want the visitors to sample the best of the local delights, and at the same time, be able to tour around the place.
You may think with all the offerings that Melbourne has, this would be an easy peasy situation. But get 8 people in a group located at different places and many opinions on where’s the place to eat in Melbourne, and you’ll get an almost chaotic situation! Where would be the most convenient for all 8 to gather, and what would be the best place that would guarantee good food and some sightseeing as well?
Well, we could not quite decide… so what did we do? We took our visitors from the North to the South of Melbourne!
We wanted to bring them to a top cafe in Melbourne and since Hammer & Tong seems to be a hot spot according to Urbanspoon, we decided to give it a try. So off to the North (North-East, to be precise) we went!
The queue outside hinted at the popularity of the place and we waited about 25minutes for a table because we were a big group. But we were pleasantly surprised that the cafe staff put 2 tables together for us to sit altogether – nicely done!
However, I would need to comment that after that, service overall wasn’t that great. It was quite apparent that they were understaffed and after we were seated, we were basically given the menus and were left to ourselves for about 15minutes? Eeps. At all of the other cafes we’ve been to, the waiters are ready to take our coffee orders the moment we are seated, pronto. But at H&T, We had to get the staff’s attention before we could get our coffee orders – if not, I think we would had to wait longer than 15minutes!
So yes, finally we got our coffees….
The coffees were all right, but probably not as strong as we wanted.
The food did take awhile to come out as well…
At first glance in the menu, this dish sounded very adventurous and it did look and taste as adventurous. Mr JT ordered this and he did comment that it tasted very heavy with the mountain heap of cheese, butter and egg yolk. I stole a bite and I wasn’t sure if I was a fan of the heavy flavours as well.
Mr NH and 1 of our visitors, Ms JK ordered this and they enjoyed this dish. Mmm how rich do that piece of fried bread and duck egg look! And I guess the salad addition helped to cut off that richness!
And guess what the rest of the table ordered?
Clearly, this was the favourite at the table and this does give justice to H&T‘s popularity. The bun had that sweet crisp perfection, the mayo on that slab of soft shell crab, the fresh parsley and shredded vegetable (can’t figure out which vegetable!) to tone down the oiliness of the burger….
The consensus around the table is that the burger is too small – a bigger one please!! Despite the size of the burger, Ann and I shared half of this burger, because we shared 1 other dish:
We thought that the pairing of flavours was a little off on this dish. Overall, the hollandaise and pickled carrot caused the dish to taste quite sour. And the kale lent it a bitter taste that didn’t go very well with the rest of the dish. We thought that spinach would have been a better substitute for a more neutral taste. The trout was also somehow lost in the pool of hollandaise. So yeah, this was definitely not as outstanding as the soft shell crab burger!
So the soft shell crab burger did live up to its reputation as the star dish of Hammer & Tong. However, unfortunately, the other dishes do not seem as outstanding and looking at the way service was during our experience, it is best not to go in big groups. Anyway, there are more dishes on the menu that I’ve yet to try and if I ever drop by Fitzroy, I wouldn’t mind going in for another bite of that soft shell crab burger!
Apparently Mr NH and Andrew are not acquainted with raw oysters so it was quite funny watching them eat the oysters – envision 2 grown-up guys wrinkling up their noses, taking deep breaths, closing their eyes tightly and exhaling 1 last time before letting the oyster slide into their mouths. Haha. At the end, Andrew was converted and helped himself to more oysters while Mr NH still wasn’t that keen 😛
Our visitors, on the other hand, lapped up those oysters and they even went back for more on a different day!
We shared 2 dozen oysters and after that we walked around the market for awhile. And just before heading off to Youth Group in church, we thought to end our foodie session with something sweet!
I was surprised by how many awards this small stall has received. And the flavours looked really unique too – all seems promising!
And yes, the ice cream was really good. The texture was creamy and the flavours were true to the ingredients that they were made of. I particularly enjoyed the salted caramel! Who would have thought that this small shop in the corner of the South Melbourne Market would house such good-quality ice cream?
So that was our whirlwind half-day out with the visitors, as we took them from the North to the South of Melbourne. Although the brunch was not as exciting as we anticipated, the visitors still managed to have a sampler of the Melbourne brunch experience in hippie Fitzroy, be delightfully satisfied by the cheap and fresh Australian oysters, and topped it off with some pretty sweet ice cream (pun intended) at 1 of Melbourne’s iconic markets. Not that bad squeezing all that in for the visitors I guess!