Hard Rubbish

Ham and cheese toastie is on the menu at Hard Rubbish Bar in Preston.
Ham and cheese toastie is on the menu at Hard Rubbish Bar in Preston. Photo: Chris Hopkins

670 Plenty Rd Preston, VIC 3072

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Opening hours Open Fri 5pm-11pm; Sat 3pm-11pm; Sun 1pm-10pm
Features Cheap Eats
Prices Cheap (mains under $20)

How to put it delicately? The space now occupied by this guerilla dive in deepest Preston used to be a massage parlour. Yes, that kind of massage parlour. And a fried chicken shop, and a radio station. They say the previous tenants also offered exorcisms on the side.

It's been turned into a bar on a shoestring by delightful Kiwi siblings Charlotte and James Tizzard, who sourced the op-shop chic decor from Gumtree and, unsurprisingly, a bit of hard rubbish (Charlotte says she landed on the name because "everyone has a good story about hard rubbish"). The pair admit they know next to nothing about running a bar, but were sick of having to trek beyond their home suburb of Reservoir to find decent craft beer, and took matters into their own hands. They both work during the week (Charlotte's a bookkeeper at a publisher, James is a welder), so at this stage it's only open weekends.

There's not a lot to it, with a plywood bar, warm vintage lamps, thirsty ferns and an eclectic collection of old vinyl chairs scattered around the room. Every seat has lived a life, like the high-backed brass throne over there, or the beaten brown leather couch down here. The space quickly fills with an attractive crowd of friends and locals chatting over pints and bowls of beer nuts and wasabi peas. Put it down to the exorcisms, but there's a good vibe here. 

Hard Rubbish's name is a tribute to the second-hand decor throughout.
Hard Rubbish's name is a tribute to the second-hand decor throughout. Photo: Chris Hopkins

The entire menu can be listed on the back of a drink coaster, including three kinds of jaffle on mismatched floral crockery: smoked ham and cheddar, bocconcini and tomato or the pick of the bunch, a cheddar and coriander pesto with plenty of musky kick. Perhaps it's not Bad Frankie territory – the city's premier jaffle joint – but it's a quality snack served with a spear of pickle and a pile of corn chips.

The beer is crafty and mostly local – a single tap of Brunswick Bitter pours $10 pints, or there's a dozen bottled beers and ciders like Feral Hop Hog IPA, or a thirst-quenching Fog City Cider over ice, or the Collingwood-made Sample Lager (the beer du jour around town at the moment).

There's a Tall Tales rosé from the Yarra Valley, a pinot grigio from Balnarring vineyard Quealy, a pinot from Portarlington Ridge, and a mysterious "house bubbles" for $7 a flute.

When asked about the origin of said bubbles, James screws up his nose. "It's nothing flash, mate," he beams. And that's the thing: if you're looking to pore over a natural wine list and graze on terrine, this probably isn't the place to do it. If you want to enjoy an ale and a jaffle on the edge of Preston before it becomes Fitzroy 2.0, then drop in and say hi. There's still a guaranteed happy ending.

Drink this Fog City cider, $10.

Eat this Cheddar and pesto jaffle, $6.

Know this They are planning a mini market here every Saturday.

Say this "What's the best thing you've found in hard rubbish?"