Saturday, October 23, 2010

Melbourne Eating: The Hardware Societe

 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?
The Hardware Societe on Urbanspoon

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.


  1. I would go for the English tea too. :-)) The breakfast looks seriously grand!

  2. Bel it's been lovely reading your Melbourne eating tour! It's given me real inspiration to go soon (it's been too long) and to use your trip as my guide :)

    This place looks really appealing - I love the whole presentation - flowered tea cups, cosies, cute blue baking dish etc. It looks like more of a suburban place to linger than a CBD rush-in-rush-out kinda place.

  3. OOhh yumm!! Too places I missed out on while there :( must make another visit! and Mmm havent had black pudding in too long!

  4. yay for a happy ending to an awesome trip! You have so made me want to visit there. Partly for hte food. Partly for the owl socks.

  5. I'm going to Melbourne today! Your round up of restaurants will certainly come in handy. Thanks for the great series!

  6. All the places you've visited are ones that I didn't visit when in Melbourne last year. Getting serious food-envy here!

  7. Oh I LOVE Hardware Societe! Isn't it just gorgeously fab with AMAZING tasty food?

  8. GREAT! I am so glad you love this place. I absolutely adore it

  9. Aw, a tea cosy! You definitely don't see enough of those around.

    Looks like a winner, will add to my Melb list!

  10. Bel, I want to come to Melbourne and have fun with you at The Hardware Societe;) It sounds delicious just like you (smile)...!

  11. Ohhh looks like an awesome place. I'd fly down to Melbourne just for the food =) And maybe the shopping too.

  12. this is one my favourite spots in Melbourne! i work near the cafe so i'm always dropping by for a coffee. the food and pastries are really good too!

  13. Haha oh yes we were there at about the same time as you! And wasn't it just freezing! :o But gotta love Melbourne anyway :)

  14. I'm glad you had a good time in Melbourne! Most of the places you ate at, I haven't even been to yet (oh, the shame!).