HOT: Hash Specialty Coffee & Roasters, 113 Hardware Street, Melbourne

hash coffee roasters

If you’re walking down Hardware Street and looking for Hash Specialty Coffee & Roasters, just look out for the lightbox with ‘#’. In this social media saturated world, there’s no need to actually spell out H-A-S-H to brunch goers hunting for the cool cafe.

hash coffee roasters

Inside Hash the decor is dark, jagged and steely, with a rabbit warren of single booths, small tables and communal benches snaking up to a mezzanine area. The upstairs area is the best place to go if you want to hide from the busy hum downstairs.

hash coffee roasters

hash coffee roasters

hash coffee roasters

I was invited to try some of Hash’s menu but before we get to the food let’s talk about THAT hot chocolate ($6).

hash coffee roasters

This awe-inspiring beehive of house made milk fairy floss and beaker of Mork dark chocolate has been the talk of foodie social media since it first emerged. On a weekend the cafe has been known to sell 100 hot chocolates a day!

Basically you pour the molten mixture into the tower fairy floss, watching as the tower collapses onto itself and sweetens the 85% cocoa chocolate. The resulting drink is smooth, intense and not too sweet and the theatrical experience just adds to the fun.

If you’re not a hot chocolate fan the coffee is made using Zest beans though there are plans to roast on site.

The breakfast menu is available all day and I was given small tastes of some dishes, so the photos may not actually reflect the portions of a main meal.

hash coffee roasters

Highlights included the crusty leek and cheddar croquettes ($19.50) with cauliflower puree, shreds of ham hock, cavolo nero and a poached egg poached in turmeric which didn’t impart much flavour but did give the dish a jolly yellow glow.

hash coffee roasters

The coconut  yoghurt pannacotta ($15.50) could have been a little less firm but I liked the artistry of the accompanying toasted nuts and grains and delicate flowers.

hash coffee roasters

I returned another day to try their grilled banana and pecan loaf ($18.50). I really liked the chunky nuts inside the springy loaf but thought that it would be better balanced in terms of texture and flavour with either burnt honey mascarpone or white chocolate custard, not both. I also thought compared to some of the other dishes the price was disproportionate to the size of the loaf you got.

The CBD is a bit of a dead zone for breakfast on the weekends so Hash Specialty Coffee & Roasters is a welcome discovery. I think some of the dishes could be simplified to highlight the top quality of the ingredients – the kitchen evidently cares about the provenance of its goods given the producers are name-checked on the menu.

And make sure you order the signature hot chocolate!


Hash Specialty Coffee & Roasters, 113 Hardware Street, Melbourne, VIC 03 8529 0284

Mon-Fri 7:00am-4:00pm

Sat- Sun 8:00am- 5:00pm

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HOT: Bread and Jam for Frances, 1/701 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn (enter via Linda Crescent or through Readings)

bread and jam for frances cafe

Melbourne Writer’s Festival starts tomorrow Thursday 20 August – Sunday 30 August so today I’m introducing you to a fabulous bookish cafe – Bread and Jam for Frances in Hawthorn.

The cafe is named after the classic children’s book by Russell Hoban and Lillian Hoban and is attached to Readings Hawthorn, one of my Top 10 Best Children’s Bookshops in Melbourne. You can enter via the bookshop or its own entrance on Linda Crescent opposite Coles.

bread and jam for frances cafe

I really like the church-like atmosphere of the place. Not that it’s silent and solemn. More that the cathedral-high ceilings and arched windows let in an abundance of light and the noise levels seem to be pretty muted (even during busy times) as most people are perusing their latest book purchase.

bread and jam for frances

Bread and Jam for Frances is run by Dench Bakers in North Fitzroy so you know the bread, pastries and cakes are sure to be good. Customers come to buy a takeaway coffee and a loaf of organic artisan sourdough or sit at small tables or banquette to enjoy the short, mostly grain based, menu (sorry paleo people). They serve Veneziano coffee and Larsen & Thompson teas and have an alcohol licence.

bread and jam for frances

I ordered the King brown, button, oyster mushrooms, goats cheese, silverbeet, toasted hazelnuts & toasted sourdough ($16) and was allowed to substitute the goats cheese for Meredith feta with no problems. It was hearty and filling and while a relatively basic dish, very satisfying toppling over with the mushroom melange.

bread and jam for frances

I then returned to drool over the sweets cabinet and was immediately drawn to the orange and pistachio cake with a syringe jauntily jabbed into it. I do love a dessert gimmick! The cake was grainy yet moist with a sweet dose of citrus within once the syrup had been injected inside.

bread and jam for frances

I think books and coffee go hand in hand and a cafe elevates a great bookshop to a fantastic bookshop. Bread and Jam for Frances is the kind of relaxed place where you’d be happy to linger with a novel and it’s a must-do destination for Melbourne bibliophiles.


Bread and Jam for Frances 1/701 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn (enter via Linda Crescent or through Readings)

Daily 7am – 6pm

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Melbourne Museum SmartBar – Giveaway!

SmartBar_Enews_1

Melbourne Museum is opening up next Thursday night 20 August for its popular adults-only Smartbar, with a theme for this event being Get Stuffed!

Spend a night exploring the scientific and historic background of taxidermy with the museum’s experts.

Image 30833 Title Felis silvestris, Wild Cat  mounted mammal specimen Source: Museum Victoria / Photographer: Heath Warwick

Image 30833
Title Felis silvestris, Wild Cat mounted mammal specimen
Source: Museum Victoria / Photographer: Heath Warwick

This adults-only event is stuffed with demos, drinks, talks and a dash of digital media that will make you think differently about taxidermy – an art form that takes years to learn and even longer to master. You’ll also be able to learn why Museums still collect in the 21st century and explore shifting attitudes towards taxidermy.

Food and drink is available for purchase on the night, or walk to nearby Fitzroy and check out some great eateries.

Tickets are $18 for adults, $16 concession/MV members – buy tickets here or call 131102 and join the Facebook event here.

Giveaway! Thanks to Melbourne Museum I have 3 x double passes to give away to attend Smartbar on Thursday 20 August 6-9:30pm.

To enter, follow the instructions below and the three winners will be drawn randomly after the competition closes midnight Monday 17 August. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

HOT: Fifty-Six Threads, 56 Derby St, Kensington

fifty six threads cafe

Fifty-Six Threads is a social enterprise cafe located in the unlikely location at the bottom of a housing commission block in Kensington.

The cafe is a project for AMES, Australia’s largest provider of humanitarian settlement, education, training and employment services for refugees and newly arrived migrants. Fifty-Six Threads is AMES’ second catering enterprise, with the first being Sorghum Sisters, an African catering business.

Fifty-Six Threads’ name is inspired by its location (ie number 56 Derby Street) and the many cultural threads that run through the cafe and the local community.  During our visit on a rainy weekday it was fairly quiet but a diverse cross-section of clientele trickled in, from the postie to a local resident to families.

fifty six threads cafe

Given the dour exterior the cafe’s interior is modern and funky, with lots of geometric angles softened with beautiful pendant lights suspended from the ceiling.

fifty six threads cafe

Coffee comes from STREAT, another social enterprise based near Kensington, and the food is all made on site by a single (professional) chef.

fifty six threads cafe

The menu contains simple cafe classics at an unbeatable price. A huge home made sausage roll with delicious tomato relish is $3.50; the burger with chips is $13 and the generous French toast is $14.

fifty six threads cafe

The burger is a stand out as the home made patty is a loose conglomeration of mince and herbs, grilled to crusty perfection. It’s sandwiched between a floury bap along with fresh tomato, lettuce and beetroot (tinned unfortunately).

To enhance the community feel there’s a small bookshelf with children’s and adults books.

fifty six threads cafe

It’s actually a rotating library for the local community so that you can take the books away, with the polite request that you return them when you’re done.

Fifty-Six Threads is a simple, relaxing  cafe (with a funky Latin soundtrack on our visit) if you’re in Kensington looking for good value food and coffee with friendly service.

They also offer very reasonable catering with mini cakes/muffins at $3 per person and savoury finger food at $3 each and sandwiches/wraps at $7.50 per person. Best of all you know that your money is going to a good cause.


Fifty-Six Threads, 56 Derby St, Kensington (03) 9376 6885

Wed-Sun 7:30-3:30pm

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HOT: Darling Street Espresso, 146 Athol St, Moonee Ponds

darling street espresso

I just love it when old milk bars are transformed into community spaces of a different kind – a welcoming local cafe. And so the story goes with Darling Street Espresso, a 7-day a week daytime operation that inhabits a corner position on Darling Street and Athol Street in suburban Moonee Ponds.

Despite its quiet location, away from the main strip of Union Road,  it’s actually a prime position for a  local. It’s down the road from a school and just a hop skip and jump to Maribyrnong Park and the river.

darling street espresso

The interior is cosy, with a front room and steps leading to a red and tightly squeezed back room.

darling street espresso

A better bet is the side corridor (marked ‘For prams and pets’) that leads an undercover courtyard with narrow garden beds and a small Astroturf play area for kids.

darling st espresso

 

darling st espresso

The all day menu is rather eclectic, with Italian, American, Mexican dishes all jumbled in – so you can have a cheeseburger or tacos for breakfast if you choose! Coffee is made with Fitzroy’s Industry Beans.

darling st espresso

Breakfast runs all day and I ordered beetroot-tinged cured salmon, two poached eggs resting atop two potato and preserved lemon pancakes and avocado puree ($16). The mini pancakes were an interesting twist on a traditional breakfast dish though I couldn’t detect much citrus in them.

darling st espresso

To test out their sweet breakfast options I ordered the grilled banana bread. For $14.50 you get two slices of soft banana bread, a puddle of activated chia and quince pudding and lots of crunchy paleo granola.

 

darling st espresso

To finish I couldn’t resist one of their puddings ($9). The dark chocolate pudding came with frozen honey custard and chocolate popcorn. It was a bit too sickly sweet for my liking and the messy presentation wasn’t terribly appealing. I think the custard would be better off being churned into ice-cream for textural and visual appeal.

The service at  Darling Street Espresso was very friendly and helpful and I liked how they had a buzzer at the entry of the courtyard to call out a waiter if necessary. While the inside of the cafe is cosy and beautifully decorated, the outside courtyard is where to hang out.

Darling Street Espresso, 146 Athol St, Moonee Ponds

Monday – Sunday 8am-4pm

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HOT: Agathé Pâtisserie, Stalls 63 and 64, South Melbourne Market, cnr Coventry and Cecil Streets, South Melbourne

agathe patisserieIf you walked into South Melbourne Market last week your nose will have detected the new aroma of fresh, buttery pastry in the aisles. That’s because Agathé Pâtisserie, a Parisian-inspired patisserie and croissanterie, has just opened a permanent kitchen and retail store in South Melbourne Market.

Agathé Kerr’s pastries have gained a cult following since she started a little Saturday market stall in Prahran Market last year. The Parisian gained her professional pastry chef qualification at the prestigious Ecole de Boulangerie et Patisserie de Paris and had been making all her wares in a pop up store/lab in Windsor.

The new double-sized stall is clean and white, with the exposed kitchen baking fresh items daily behind the tempting pastry counter.

agathe patisserie

I ordered a classic pain au chocolat (with two luxurious sticks of chocolate inside), a brightly striped infused raspberry croissant, a classic escargot and almond croissant.

agathe patisserie

All excellent quality, with a buttery crumb, subtle flavours and airy layers of pastry.

agathe patisserie

There is one must-eat item on the menu. Agathé Pâtisserie’s famous cruffins ($7) are now piped to order with vanilla creme patisserie and topped with your choice of filling – on my visit, Nutella, salted caramel or peanut butter caramel.

agathe patisserie

agathe patisserie

agathe patisserie

For now Agathé Pâtisserie is focusing on their new premises and retail offering so there’s no wholesale orders to cafes. That means the only place to try these amazing pastries is at South Melbourne Market. Warning – on the first day of opening at South Melbourne EVERYTHING was sold out in 1 hour (9am!). So if you want to sample some of Melbourne’s best pastries you’ll have to set your alarm clock and get in early.


 

Agathé Pâtisserie, Stalls 63 and 64, South Melbourne Market, corner of Coventry and Cecil Streets, South Melbourne 0403 222 573

Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday 8am-4pm or until sold out.

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