Hash Speciality Coffee is just down the lane from Hardware Societe, and might pick up some of the spillover of people waiting in line. They do more than coffee. Colourful grafitti on the pillars as you approach and a wordless sign with the associated symbol signal where it is. (The symbol itself is actually called a hash, and not a hashtag, so the sign is an adequate descriptor. Although they could have used #coffee..) It certainly is a nod to the times, when social media can propel a place into insta-popularity if wielded correctly. I recall the days when only bona fide food critics published in widely circulated magazines had such power. Now every other person has an opinion. #irony. But I digress.
As you walk in, you discover that the space is much larger than it looks from the outside, especially with a mezzanine loft-like seating area above the main floor to accommodate more people. The interiors are definitely dark, with black walls and black-painted metal shelves and light fixtures hanging from the ceiling. It is softened by white tiles and mid-brown tops on the counters.
There was definitely a buzz to it on the Saturday morning we were there. We were greeted by someone at the entrance and soon shown to seats. The table was already set with glassware and menus. Their use of graduated conical flasks as water jugs adds to the industrial feel.
There were some interesting speciality coffee options on the drink menu, in particular a drink called the Hash Black Magic, which is a cold brew coffee infused with fresh fruit syrup and topped with sparkling water. That sounded potentially interesting, but the syrup of the day was lemon and lime..and my aversion to sour things immediately made that much less appealing.
What we also hadn’t realised was that the Hash hot chocolate was a thing. The people sitting next to us ordered one, and we watched, amused, as they recorded the fairy floss melting away as hot chocolate was poured over it. We had done similar with an affogato version at Secret Trees Coffee in Brisbane a few weeks prior, so it didn’t seem quite that novel. If only we had done some background pre-reading before wandering in.. We started with a Chai latte and a flat white instead.
The flat white was initially thought to be not that good, but after a proper stir and settle was thought to be pretty good.
The soy chai latte had a bit of extra kick from their spice blend.
On the menu for food was a column of breakfast items, available all day, and a shorter column of lunch items, also available all day. It does beg the question of why there is a separation between the two at all.. The breakfast column had the more interesting items, and we wound up picking two dishes from it: the pork fritter benedict, and the corn and prawn fritter.
The pulled pork fritter benedict needed seasoning. While the pork was supposed to have been lemongrass and cola braised, we couldn’t really taste that. The fritters were crunchy though. Their poached eggs have very runny yolks, and, with the bearnaise, kept the dish from being dry.
The corn and prawn fritters were also crunchy on the outside. Again though, they weren’t as tasty as anticipated. They did indeed have little prawns in that batter mix when you cut into the fritters. There were also whole corn kernals for texture and a little bit of sweetness. Be warned that the house made chilli jam does pack heat. The avocado and the yolks from the poached eggs helped to offset it a bit.
Service was almost too efficient, with cups, plates and cutlery whisked away as soon as it looked like you were done and before you had time to protest, which made it a bit hard when we were trying to share food and one just emptied plate and the associated fork and knife disappeared..
Overall, Hash Speciality Coffee is quite a funky place to be, and where you can get yourself a picture-worthy drink. It probably episomises the stereotype of Melbourne culture in many ways. It’s down a laneway, it has a wordless sign, it has colourful grafitti, it is very much about coffee.. All that aside though, to be a real presence in the competitive food scene, the food needs a little more flavour.
Overall : 5/8
Price point: Breakfast items $15.50 to $19.50 (I’m not counting the fruit salad.). Lunch items $16.50 to $25.
Value: Not convincing. The serves were pretty small for the price.
Address: 113 Hardware St, Melbourne
Phone: (03) 8529 0284
Website: Hash Speciality Coffee