In the winter of 2011, a small but sophisticated eatery opened just off the main drag of Brunswick Street, with two interior designers at the helm. The space was the first thing you noticed, the food was equally as impressive when it arrived at your table, but within a year the place sadly closed. Now, in the very same space arrives Hammer & Tong 412, which opened on Tuesday.

“They had very good taste,” new owner Dennis Ferreira says of the former proprietors of The Brix. “We basically got handed this very beautiful restaurant.” And so upon acquiring the eatery earlier this year, Hammer & Tong 412 left the striking fit-out as it was – large windows, open kitchen, hanging plants, even the crockery.

The difference is that the new venue owners – Ferriera and chef Simon Ward – bring years of hospitality experience to the table. Ferriera has worked front of house at many of Melbourne’s best restaurants, from Di Stasio, Caffe e Cucina and il Bacaro to France Soir, Momo, Vue de Monde and Jacques Reymond, clocking up some serious hours in the process. “I prefer to think of myself as a mercenary,” he laughs.

But it was at Vue de Monde where Ferriera and Ward met, pairing years of service with exceptional kitchen experience – a classic combination. Think of their new eatery as inhabiting a space a few notches from their fine dining past. “Hammer & Tong is about taking casual dining and doing it exceptionally well,” says Ward. “The food will be fresh, simple and generous.”

Dishes include coconut black rice pudding with mango; salads of haloumi, smoked pepper and black sesame; buttermilk pancakes sprinkled with popping candy; truffled duck egg with cheesy parmesan toast; and Turkish delight soda. And coffee (by Dukes) is big here, with a shiny Kees van der Western ‘Spirit’ sitting on the counter. For now, it’s breakfast and lunch (and brunch on weekends), with nights to follow soon.

Hammer and Tong 412
Rear 412 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
(03) 9041 6033

Tues to Fri 7am-4pm
Sat & Sun 8am-5pm