Hot chocolate is having its moment in Melbourne right now, and there’s one in particular that’s been breaking Instagram. The Hash Hot Chocolate at Hash Specialty Coffee is presented on a wooden board: a little beaker full of rich, melted MORK chocolate, sitting next to a towering cup of snow white fairy floss. Pour the choc over the floss and voilà–a cup of the smoothest, thickest, most decadent hot choccie you’ve laid lips upon. Sound sickly? After a recent visit to Hash I can vouch it’s not, with the fairy floss the perfect foil for the bitterness of 85% cocoa. Clever.
Yup, the hottest drink in town has been drawing the Melbourne breakfast and lunch crowds, but while lured by the tasty gimmick, it’s the spectacular food at Hash Specialty Coffee that’s winning hearts and bellies. Speaking of bellies, make sure yours is empty when making a date at Hash—consider yourself warned.
On a recent visit to the Hardware Street cafe, I was wowed by one of the best Melbourne breakfast menus I’ve seen in some time. And while the dishes are a visual feast, colour-drenched and often scattered with edible flowers, Head Chef Adam Pruckner (formerly of Code Black) is adamant the flavours will do the talking–it’s definitely not a case of all fluff, no stuff. The all-day menu focuses on locally sourced produce–bread from Zeally Bay Organic Bakers, sustainable seafood from Clamms, Istra bacon–served within a slick yet welcoming industrial-edged space, designed by Solid Architects.
Tucking myself into one of the two-seater ‘pod’ tables next to the Slayer-topped central coffee station, I suffered from ‘eyes bigger than stomach’ syndrome, ordering up half of the menu. I then happily grazed my way through the Smashed Peas & Glazed Bacon, Leek & Cheddar Croquettes, Rice Pudding Brulee, and Grilled Banana & Pecan Loaf.
If you’re a bit indecisive, my pick is the peas–a perfectly balanced savoury-sweet combo, smashed with mint and honey-glazed bacon, topped with a perfect poachie and jenga-esque potato hash strips, atop smoky aioli. So. Darn. Tasty.
BUT, the croquettes are even more nom: three little golden beauties served on a bed of cauliflower puree, with cavalo nero and a turmeric poached egg. Seriously, I want these crunchy-coated, cloud-like bad boys in my mouth for all of eternity. And do not even get me started on the silky cauli puree. Hands down, one of the best breakfasts I’ve had this year.
If you’re more of a sweet tooth, the grilled banana and pecan loaf is another winner. The moist grilled loaf is sprinkled with candied macadamias, milk crumbs (like little mouthfuls of biscuity joy), blueberries and subtly tart burnt honey mascarpone, swimming in a sea of white chocolate custard. The combo of tastes and textures (crunch, pop, slurp) is ahmazing, plus it has blueberries so it’s totally clean eating, right?
The Middle Eastern-inspired rice pudding brulee is another one for the sweeties. Cracking through the blow-torched surface is deeply satisfying and the scattering of pistachios is very generous. The cardamom flavour is quite strong and this pudding is RICH, so I’d suggest splitting with your brunch companion.
The lunch menu at Hash Speciality Coffee is concise but mouth-watering; I’ll definitely be back for the slow roasted pork belly and the beef cheek sliders. And, as the name might suggest, coffee is also a serious focus at the new Melbourne cafe. Owners Syed Mirraney and Ben Lou tossed up the usual suspects before settling on Zest Coffee beans, characterised by the fruitiness they were seeking. As well as the house-blend of Kenyan and Ethiopian single origin beans, with a complex sweet, fruity and acidic flavour, there’s a good selection of drip, filter and immersion brews.
Some new Melbourne cafes make a hash of it, but this is not one of them. I have a feeling Hash Specialty Coffee & Roasters will be keeping the brunch and lunch crowd fed and watered for quite some time.
Image credit: Jenna Fahey-White