If there's one city in Australia with the perfect cafe society, it's Melbourne. And the perfect cafe in Melbourne is the Hardware Societe.
Our last day in Melbourne and the sun made a miraculous appearance although it was still freezing cold (this was on Caulfield Cup day, so you can imagine how the racetrack fillies in their Spring racing dresses must have been feeling). I'd been reading how The Hardware Societe was a great place in the CBD for breakfast and was keen to check it out.
The cafe is located in Hardware Lane, which runs for several blocks from Bourke Street (or to Bourke St depending on which end you start at). Hardware Societe is near the Lonsdale Street end, and it's open and packed on weekends, which is no mean feat when the business district is normally deserted. I did try to check out Earl Canteen at 500 Bourke St, but it was closed on this Saturday.
Continuing with the theme of dining at the bar/counter during our trip, we were lucky to get a place at the counter that overlooks the kitchen, separated by glass shelving. This gave us the opportunity to spy on the chefs and observe their cameraderie with each other and the barista and waitstaff. They were so efficient, with one chef starting a dish and the other chef finishing it off, they worked like a well-oiled machine.
What did we order? Of course, English Breakfast tea for me, and iced coffee for him.
Everyone loves a tea cosy and a dainty teacup...
I also had the baked eggs ($13) with chorizo, valdeon blue cheese and olive bread. Alternatively, you can also order the baked eggs with basil pistou and confit tomatoes. I ordered this because the guy next to me was having it and it came in a cute blue cocotte with a lid - apart from the lovely presentation, the eggs were fantastic, piping hot with a spicy chorizo and mild but distinctive blue cheese. The olive bread was also gorgeous.
The day's special was like a big breakfast ($16) - poached boudin blanc, black pudding, onion jam, tomato and potato rosti. This was done really well, particularly the boudin blanc, which was a very smooth mixture of chicken, beautifully seasoned. I'm also informed by he who ate it that the black pudding was one of the best he's ever had. Good rap.
The Vibe: The Hardware Societe lives up to its stellar reputation. The staff are charming and efficient and know what they are doing. The food is spot-on. The tea cosies are homely. What more could you ask for?
And a summary of our previous Melbourne eats are on the map below:
And that's a wrap from our Melbourne sojourn. We boarded our afternoon flight back to Sydney and reflected on the majorly fabulous meals we ate and the owl socks that I bought. And we were HAPPY.