Instagram-famous hot chocolate is only one of many reasons to visit this Hardware Lane café
Since Hash Specialty Coffee and Roasters opened on Hardware Lane in May, many have been agog over #HashHotChocolate. This social-media-friendly beverage consists of a flask of 85 per cent Mork hot chocolate poured into a cup piled high with milk-flavoured fairy floss. When chocolate meets floss, the impressive white bouffant evaporates into the chocolate river. It’s a lot of sweet fun, and just in case you’re not poised with your phone to capture the moment, there’s a huge, lit-up hashtag on the back wall to remind you. When you actually get to drinking it, it's not the enormous sugar rush you anticipate: dark chocolate and sweet fairy floss cancel each other out to create a balanced hot chocolate.
But there is more to Hash than a photogenic beverage. The all-day breakfast menu by head chef Adam Pruckner (ex-Code Black) shows that this split-level café with black walls, plywood cubby-like spaces and naked lightbulbs is attempting to push boundaries. Simple poached eggs may be stained with turmeric or paired with more surprising ingredients such as scallops, ham hock or cauliflower puree, while the cardamom rice pudding and coconut pannacotta blur the lines between breakfast and dessert. Lunch starts at 11am and you can choose from items such as crispy quail (disappointingly unavailable on the day we visited), rare tuna and, of course, Melbourne’s favourite meat: slow roasted pork belly.
The ocean trout rillettes is an elegant dish. Fluffy pink paste is spread neatly over toasted grain sourdough and topped with poached eggs and Béarnaise sauce. Creamy and light, it’s like a tuna, egg and mayo sandwich that’s been to finishing school. A beef sandwich comprises tender shredded cheek meat and rich celeriac remoulade sitting in a not-too-sweet brioche bun. A ring of salsa verde adds some herbaceous zest.
The stand-out is the grilled banana pecan loaf. A generous cube of warm banana cake is topped with a hefty (and very welcome) serve of honeyed mascarpone. There’s bashed-up bikkies and crushed macadamias for added crunch, white chocolate custard sauce for mopping up, and it’s all strewn with blueberries and edible flowers in purple hues. Definitely more dessert than breakfast, this is pure joy.
Prefer coffee to hot chocolate? Luckily, it’s far from an afterthought: Zest Coffee is roasted locally and Hash’s house blend of Kenyan and Ethiopian single origin beans is smooth and full-flavoured. There’s also pressed juices and some more unusual teas from China, India and Egypt.
Service is friendly, although when the place gets busy it can veer into the kind of carelessness where tables aren’t wiped between groups. That quibble aside, this café will remain a favourite spot to refuel long after the social media hype fades.
|Venue name:||Hash Specialty Coffee and Roasters|
113 Hardware St
|Opening hours:||Mon-Fri 7am-3pm; Sat, Sun 8am-5pm|
|Transport:||Nearby stations: Melbourne Central, Buses: Melbourne Central|