When thinking of where to take an out-of-towner to eat at on their first visit to Melbourne, Hammer & Tong has always been at the top of my list. While I haven’t actually been back here for a while (deterred by the huge lines here on the weekends and peak hours), I was eagerly waiting for a good excuse to go back and try their newer dishes. So when a couple of friends were visiting from San Francisco a few weeks ago, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take them here.
We were seated almost immediately as we had arrived before the lunch rush on a Monday morning. I already had my eye on one particular dish on the menu: the salt and pepper french toast topped with a fried duck egg, chorizo smoked oreo crumbs, maple and a serving of salted caramel ice cream. WHAT EVEN H&T.
The combination of those sweet and savoury components together must have been enough to garner everyone’s interest at the table (and possibly even raise an eyebrow or two).
Salt & Pepper French Toast $22.5
I wasn’t sure what to expect at first but after a few bites, I was quite taken aback by how well all of the flavours worked together. And those oreo and chorizo crumbs! Kudos to the genius that had come up with this idea. The saltiness of the chorizo worked well to balance out the sweetness of the oreo and maple crumbs. The french toast itself was not too sweet, making its pairing with the fried duck egg all the more better. Top that all off with some salted caramel ice cream and you’ve got yourself a delectable party mix of sweet and salty flavours in your mouth!
Seared Tuna & Banana Split Crumpet $24
Next on the list was another combination of sweet and savoury in the form of a seared tuna and banana split crumpet topped with a poached egg, banana malibu sauce, chocolate caviar, and served with banana and saffron ice cream. Although I did enjoy each of the components on its own (especially the banana and saffron ice cream), I wasn’t a big fan of how it all came together as a dish. The tuna and crumpet together was nice, but it did make for a bit of an odd combination in the end. All in all, this was my probably my least favourite dish of the lot.
Fun story – Amidst taking turns and waiting for everyone in the group to take their own photos, our server actually stepped in and said “I’ll just get you guys a new egg” before taking away the crumpet dish. We all sat there very confused until he came back with the dish and explained that it was the chef’s intentions that the egg be served fresh and that we could take only one more photo this time around 😛
Breakfast ramen $19.5
The last dish was one that I have had in the past before: the breakfast ramen served with a 62°c egg, bacon, shiitake mushrooms and bacon dashi. The bacon pieces were delightfully thick and the broth was silky and flavoursome. My favourite part was the egg yolk melting through the noodles. I also liked that the noodles were topped with spring onions to give a fresh feel to an overall warm and densely-flavourful dish.
I always leave Hammer & Tong with a pining to go back for their innovative and deliciously well-constructed dishes. Undoubtedly after this meal my friends and I have been left with a newfound appreciation for unusual food pairings that may sound a tad bizarre in theory, but are surprisingly complementary in reality.
Delicious and innovative combinations on a plate. A Melburnian must.
Hammer & Tong
412 Brunswick St,
Fitzroy VIC 3065