The Hardware Société
There was a time not so long ago when The Hardware Société was one of Melbourne’s best-kept secrets. The smell of coffee is different here, I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the smell of baked eggs that dives in and out of the coffee aroma, weaving a sensory tapestry that makes your taste buds tingle with anticipation… it was inevitable that this secret wasn’t going to be kept for long!
Don’t let the queue put you off. The old adage about never eating in an empty restaurant certainly applies in its happier, reversed form here. You might have to wait… but it will be worth it. You can save a bit of time if you are by yourself by opting to sit on the community table. However, if you’re there with friends (and you should be) then you can expect a wait of up to half an hour.
The off-beat urban decor keeps your eyes up, and distracts from the fairly tight setting. It’s something you might notice while you’re waiting for your food to arrive, but will be quickly forgotten once you take your first mouthful – of coffee. When the food arrives you’ll stop noticing the person sitting opposite you – even if you’ve known them for your whole life.
Ben and I stumbled upon this place by accident. One morning before photographing a wedding we met up with our assistant here. She’d never heard of the place either, and by chance, we didn’t have to line up that day – much anyway. It seemed like the perfect place to check the brief and sign contracts. It was all business as usual until Ben’s double-shot latte came out. He still carries on about how that coffee smelled. It has become the coffee by which all others are judged. I had an inkling that we were in for something special – what an underestimation that turned out to be!
The menu. Just. Wow. Being the paltry poultry lover out of the two of us, Ben was always going to order eggs. Chorizo, you say? With baked eggs? Eggs Deux. Get it. Watch it cook in front of you. Burn your arm on the miniature cassolette that cooks the dish while they serve it. Once it’s cooled enough, get ready… it’s sensory overload!
Ben has been to Hardware Société four times now. He’s ordered the same dish every time. Ridiculous? Yes. Delicious? “Oh hell yes!” What will he order next time…? I’m going out on a limb and guessing pancakes. Not.
Chelsea, our assistant, hit up the continental breakfast. Fruit, juice, croissants, toast, and muesli – served in an old jam jar. Quirky and yet somehow it totally works. This traditional fare gave a more than worthy account of itself, with special mention to the über fresh croissant, and the jam-jar muesli. This place has had quite the impression on Chelsea. She tells us that it’s become something of her inner-city-local. High praise from twenty-something who lives in St. Kilda!
For me, there was nothing paltry at all about the omelette with peas, tarragon and lemon! The textures were incredible. The greens were so fresh and crunchy whilst the egg was rich and velvety. When people say they’ve had/they make/the know the fluffiest omelette, stop them. Ask if they had it at Hardware Société. If they didn’t, tell them they are wrong! Then take them to Hardware Société!
All the writing in the world isn’t going to help your tastebuds experience this place – so just take my word for it! They don’t take bookings, so it’s oft best to get there either before the 9am crowd, or after they all start work. Either way, don’t be sad if you have to wait, be thankful that you are finally there. Ben says try the eggs, I say try the lot. They have a breakfast and a lunch menu, so you might have to go twice, just to compare the differences, of course. They won’t alter the menu, something to note before you go, however there are plenty of gluten-free, allergy free and vegetarian options for everyone.
All this talk of breakfast and coffee has my mouth watering. I think it’s time for me to eat. What are your favourite breakfast spots? They don’t have to be in Melbourne, but where is the place that you go for that breakfast or coffee that you know will be perfect every single time?
Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to try them out sometime!
Until next time, thanks for wearing pants!
The Hardware Société is at 120 Hardware Lane, Melbourne. It is open 7:30am-3:30pm weekdays, and 8:30am-4:30pm weekends.