A Melbournian who wonders as I wander. I have spent a lot of life colouring in moments and take great pleasure in creative expression of experience. Interested in Design, Art, Film, Photography, Painting and all things French.
Published July 5th 2018
Taste of Laneway Melbourne
I must confess I'm a 90's girl, I have a subconscious prejudice against anything that sounds remotely Millennial. Of contrary nature, whilst one part of my mind hangs on the sign of a line indicating common interest, the rest battles to disinherit the sheeplike tendency to follow.
At first I walked past Hashtag Coffee in Hardware St and I still have no idea what a Hashtag means. Perhaps the sense of this café is its definition.
I saw the milling crowds at the Hardware Société and White Mojo called out its name by sparking memory of a newspaper article devoted to the food theatre. I tried to look in without looking. I wandered back and forth in that uncomfortable obviousness and finally the white hash sign registered.
On weekends the menu is outside the door, you have to jump on a waitlist. I have seen people drift up discussing together, 'should we wait?' This is no longer a question after your first experience. External heating cuts the bite off the chill and the minutes until a seat becomes available slip like silk through your fingers.
Croissant with condiments
There are certain advantages to coming as a single. Often that elusive table becomes available almost immediately. Today my favourite position was waiting for me. It looks into beneath the stairs, to me it feels like an atmospheric cubby. It is the type of refuge I am searching for in the desert of public city space
My preference for sparkling over still water quickly determined, I felt perfectly placed to take in the ambiance. It was clanging with a multicultural prosody and passionate natter. Thursday is a busy day of the week. You could feel peoples' spirits winding and relaxing, after the tense whispered hush of those heavy and endless beginning of the week days.
I ordered a single origin coffee, a warm croissant with butter jam and honey (Nutella is also an option). The jam is something you don't want to miss. Croissants may be the most solid feature on the plate but it is the condiments that give colour and vibrance. Hashtag's 'house made' jam is mixed berry. You find yourself Masterchef testing your tastebud sensitivity. There are hints of apple, black currant, blueberry and possibly even juniper. The name of added spices is tingling on the tip of my tongue. One moment I think clove, the next star anise and cinnamon.
The honey is rooftop honey sourced locally. It has a lemony brightness, reminiscent of comb but sweetened by the fruity notes. It glistens, dribbled across the croissant surface, complementing the jam.
The croissant arrives promptly. It meets the sales description beyond expectation. By sight you can tell it is heated in an oven and was made recently in the kitchen with quality butter which glitters in the warm amber light. As you tear in the fibres stretch in your fingers and there is a crisp and moist sensation. With honey a croissant has hints of crepe. Croissants have such a fascinating quality of translucent layers of interest which the honey crystallises atop of. It sizzles on your tongue.
There are treats in fairy tales that, when you put them in your mouth, continue to develop and explode with flavour. Hashtag's decor supports the sense they are aiming for creating magic. They even have fairies mentioned on the menu. They should offer their fairy floss as a spread on croissant or toast. (I have had the privilege of trying this, it sticks on, you don't even need a knife to spread.)
The coffee is heady with thick crema. Like everything else here there is more than one flavour, subtle notes that harmonise.
The paintings on the walls abstractly reflect the cafe's atmosphere. It allows you to just chill out contentedly. The warm red of artistic flair complements the timber fit out. The concentric lines of the staircase and woodgrain give a modern sense of depth and interest. Being here lifts your mood.
The 80's soundtrack features the Carpenters, Paul McCartney, the Bee Gees and Olivia Newton John and brings all the energy and jubilance of that era. It flows and consumes your senses, inspiring your fingers to tap, then ebbing, muffled by cafê ebullience.
The staff are genuinely interested in you. Conversation is natural, without the formal, stiff impatience of many other environments. Their eyes meet yours. They listen to the response and take the time to make your day a brighter one.
The croissant is the tame choice on the menu. You could order the drama of the fairy floss in 85% dark chocolate and your transportation to fairyland would then be complete. People have captured and flooded this experience across Instagram and Youtube. It is likely one reason for the waiting list.
You could experiment with Almond milk panacotta with candied banana and milk crumb. This fascinates my imagination every time I pretend to look at the menu. I do try to convince myself I could order something less traditional in the millennial deconstructed sense. If I chose to one day, I'm sure that here I would not be disappointed.
The menu and fitout in a heritage shell perfectly blend the past with modern life.