Food – Hammer and Tong

Rear 412 Brunswick Street
Fitzroy Vic 3065

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There are a stack of places across town that attract foodie and hipster types in their droves. Hammer and Tong is definitely one of these places. Whether it be their friendly and hip staff, the on trend fit out or inventive menu, just about everyone I know has visited and been impressed by what was on offer. I visited for the first time just over a year ago and have been intending to return for ages, so a couple of weeks ago I bundled my son into the car, picked up my sister and made our way to Fitzroy.

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We arrived at 2.50pm (winning! 10 minutes before the kitchen closed) and the place was still buzzing. So much so, I actually didn’t think we’d get a table. After a bit of reshuffling by the lovely staff, we were seated at the back of the restaurant (in what reminds me of an old style sun room) at a share table with another family.

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The menu had changed from my last visit and to my disappointment their delicious corn fritters weren’t on offer (don’t panic peeps, their iconic soft shell crab burger is still there), but the new additions were as inventive as ever. How these people get the idea to create dishes like a hot smoked trout croissant or a pawn and black bean omelette is well beyond my creative abilities, but I guess that’s why they’re the pro’s and I’m just a blogger.

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My pick for lunch was the pollywaffle (buttermilk waffle, Nutella, wafer and vanilla marshmallow) which looked as pretty as a picture (so naturally I plastered it all over Instagram). But as much as I hate to say it, ugh…, here it comes…, it looked better than it tasted. There you go, I said it! Ok, Hammer and Tong lovers, there’s no need to send me abusive emails, I didn’t want to say it, really I didn’t, but it just wasn’t that amazing.

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The waffle itself was soft and tasty, although missing a bit of crunch, for the most part I liked it. The marshmallow was melted to perfection and had filled all of the waffles craters, so I got a good taste of it with every mouth full. On the down side, I wasn’t really a fan of the gel. It was way too tangy (I have no idea what it was made from,  but I got one hint of it and steered clear from the rest) and for me it over powered every other flavour in the dish. I know it was required to balance out the sweetness of the marshmallow, but really wasn’t very nice. Oh, and the Nutella, um, well, I didn’t taste any on my plate. I love Nutella and have a serious radar for it, but I honestly couldn’t taste it in any part the dish. My guess is that it was in the rubble, but I didn’t find it to have all that much flavour.

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My sister on the other hand went with the chorizo bravas (crispy potato, spiced tomato, garlic emulsion and fried quail eggs). The potato’s were smashed and served with skin on, then topped with crumbled pieces of chorizo, all of which were really delicious. The tomato had a bit of kick to it, but tasted great smothered all over those potato’s.  All in all, this was a great take on a Spanish classic.

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So what’s the verdict?  I wasn’t blown away on this visit, but that’s not to say I wouldn’t give it another crack. Past experience tells me that this place has the goods, but I may just steer away from the pollywaffle.

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