A Weekend of Eats in Melbourne

People who haven’t known me for long always seem to be curious about what I was like in school.

Was I a teacher’s pet? Was I bullied? Is it true that I owned a pink lunchbox at one point? Did I come up with harebrained schemes that involved selling dirt to people in McDonalds bags and calling them McDirties?

1.5 of those statements is true, I’ll let you try and figure that out.

The other thing that’s true is that I was really just a fat kid who loved playing Space Invaders on the school computers. I loved Space Invaders, I would go in-depth into the reasoning behind why I enjoyed playing it so much but every draft I wrote made it sound like I was someone that endorsed terrorism. It was a fun game and I wanted to fulfil my role as defender of the earth by keeping aliens out.

Guess what? The defenders of Melbourne failed to keep me out of their fine city and I proceeded to eat their precious food and drink their precious coffee.

Here are the highlights from my weekend of eats in Melbourne:

The Breakfast Ramen at Hammer & Tong

hammer and tong ramen
Breakfast ramen with 62˚c hens egg, bacon, mushroom, spring onion w bacon dashi

My first stop in Melbourne was a little cafe in Fitzroy by the name of Hammer & Tong. My buddy Miguel of I’m Still Hungry fame waxed poetical about this cafe the same way I rave about my nephew’s wrestling techniques (he could be the next Rock if he really wanted to be).

Speaking of techniques, Hammer & Tong have got those in lock for a variety of dishes but what really stood out for me was the ramen pictured above. I’m very accustomed to tonkotsu ramen with thick broth and fatty chashu so this was a spin on something I love.

The noodles were cooked al dente and not too soft or chewy. The dashi was incredibly light and refreshing, it would’ve been hard to stomach something incredibly thick early in the morning and the chefs definitely kept that in mind for patrons enjoying some (stop) hammer time. The fatty bacon and mushrooms were also great and popping the egg was super satisfying.

Strong start to a (spoiler alert) killer trip:

Hammer & Tong
Rear 412 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne, VIC
Opening Hours:
Tuesday – Saturday: 7:00am to 10:30pm
Sunday – Monday: 7:00am to 4:00pm

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The Baked Eggs at the Hardware Societe

hardware societe baked eggs
Baked eggs with chorizo, piquilloo pimientos sauce, almonds and goats milk cheese

A lot of people tried to talk me out of this. It’s like when one of your buddies asks if he can take an ex out on a date and you bust out your notes on everything that girl did wrong to try and dissuade him from doing it (spoiler alert: he does it, she cheats on him and tells all her girlfriends that he never really tried with her).

I didn’t listen because…the girl’s hot ok and maybe I can do better?

I did better. In fact, I did eggcellent:

The baked eggs were incredibly hearty and a fantastic winter warmer. The tomato base was a lot more subtle than the baked egg dishes I’ve had before and really let the other components shine through. Chorizo, potato, spinach all tasted delicious and almonds added a crunch which I really enjoyed. The accompanying bread was drizzled with olive oil and were great to dunk into the eggs.

I wish I could be a reggular here. Alas, that was all for now, folks.

The Hardware Societe
118-120 Hardware Street, CBD, Melbourne, VIC
Opening Hours:
Monday – Friday: 7:30am to 3:00pm
Saturday – Sunday: 7:30am to 2:30pm

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The Wings at Belle’s Hot Chicken

Belle's hot chicken
Wings cooked southern style with a side of broccoli

It’s really hard to stuff up fried chicken. However, there are tiers on how well you succeed as well. How’s the crunch? Did the chicken remain tender after being drowned in oil and having the life blitzed out of it? Were the sides worthy? How many more rhetorical questions am I going to ask in this post.

Let me sum this up real quick:

– The crunch is otherworldly because folks in other worlds can hear it.

– The chicken is so tender that it offered to buy me flowers and take me to the Hunter Valley on our first date.

– You wouldn’t believe this but the side of broccoli definitely could’ve been a main even if I would’ve lost my man card if that had been my sole order.

– Should I ask more? Am I doing this to emphasise my points? Will I ever get a haircut that doesn’t make me curse out everyone in the salon afterwards? Find out next time on Dragon Ball Z.

Long story short: I belle-ieve in Belle’s Hot Chicken.

Belle’s Hot Chicken
150-156 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne, VIC
Opening Hours:
Open 7 Days: Noon to 10:00pm

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The Elderflower Sago at Operator 25

operator 25 elderflower sago
Elderflower sago with chia seeds, rhubarb and strawberry compote, white chocolate foam and freeze-dried mango

Full disclosure: I was already stuffed like a Turducken by the time I managed to make my way to Operator 25. I was determined to try as many things as I could even though I had more food in me than a canteen at fat camp.
I’m way too old for these food safaris.

Whilst I’m on the topic of the elderly, let me talk about this gorgeous elderflower sago real quick.
It’s one of the most unique desserts I’ve ever had the pleasure of enjoying. It’s like a chef was making some aeroplane jelly one day and the contents of their pantry just sort of opened up and fell into the jello bowl. Subtly sweet and imaginative, I’m going to remember this dessert when I’m an elder flower.

Operator 25
25 Wills Street, CBD, Melbourne, VIC
Opening Hours:
Monday – Friday: 7:00am to 4:00pm
Saturday – Sunday: 9:00am to 4:00pm

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The Ferero Rocher Cake at Bibelot

bibelot hazelnut praline
Hazelnut Praline

Ok, so we went to Bibelot AFTER visiting Operator 25 and digesting half the menu. My stomach was working overtime trying to digest all the food I had consumed; the union is going to be super pissed at me.

There was no way I could leave Melbourne without sinking my teeth into this heavenly looking dessert. My buddy George of Hosikah said it was as if the the Ferrero group had decided to make a cake.

Sold!

It was an incredibly apt description. From the get go, you can see the distinctive hazelnut chunks as well as gold flair reminiscent of Ferrero rochers. The varying textures as you sliced through the layers was as tasty as it was aesthetically pleasing.

Get your own, this cake was not made for (ro)cherring.

Bibelot
285-287 Conventry Street, South Melbourne, Melbourne
Opening Hours:
Open 7 N 10:00am to 8:00pm

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The Baos at Wonderbao

wonderbao
From the left: Soft shelled crab, roast pork belly and chicken gua bao

“Cause I’ve been thinking ‘baot it, and I’ve been dreaming ‘baot you”

I’ve been wanting to have Wonderbao again ever since they popped up in Sydney for the Night Noodle Markets of 2014. I got my chance as I hustled my way over to their Melbourne store for lunch.

We opted for their two specials (soft shell crab and chicken) as well as my favourite (the roast pork belly).

I fell in love with the pork belly bao all over again.

Like…you know how people fall in love at first sight? Then they fall in love again once they see their paramour naked?

Yep, that’s exactly how I felt.

Wonderbao
Shop 4/19-37 A’Beckett Street, CBD, Melbourne, VIC
Opening Hours:
Monday – Friday: 8:00am – 6:00pm
Saturday: 11:00am – 4:00pm

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The Earl Grey & Rose Donut at Shortstop

shortstop donuts earl grey
Earl grey and rose donut with lemon myrtle

Donuts and bad haircuts…I’m not sure what I’ve had more of recently but I know which one I enjoy more.

Shortstop Donuts is an institution within Melbourne’s thriving donut scene. Their Instagram account accrued 16 THOUSAND followers before they even made a single donut as Anthony Ivey (co-owner of Shortstop) conducted an epic journey around the states in a bid to download as much donut making information as possible.

It’s the trip I want to make when I eventually purchase a private jet and have the ability to not gain any additional poundage (do not deny me of my pipe dream).

I tried half a dozen of their donuts and one rose to the top of the rankings.

Heh.

I will recommend this donut every time a homie of mine tells me that they’re going to Melbourne. It’s like the Eiffel Tower in France, the Empire State Building in New York or Maria Sharapova’s legs in Russia; you just have to experience them in person to fully appreciate them and realise that the hype is real and justified.

Shortstop Coffee & Donuts
12 Sutherland Street, CBD, Melbourne, VIC
Opening Hours:
Monday – Friday: 7:30am – 4:30pm
Saturday:9:30am – 4:00pm
Sunday:9:30am – 3:30pm

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Here’s the TL;DR for this TL;DR post:

– This was the ultimate TL;DR post. The original came close to being 16,000 words and only 10,000 of those words were jokes or poorly planned analogies. Just read the above. Heh.

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