Hardware Societe or Breakfast Societe? This is hands down my favourite place out of the numerous cafes and restaurants that I have been to in Melbourne! From what I have heard to the actual dishes being savour by me, it really didn’t let me down and live up to it’s legendary reviews online! If there is a cult in the world that I am interested to join, I would choose to join this Breakfast/Brunch Societe cult straight away. In fact, everyone should join it, after all, who doesn’t love running yolks, crispy baguette where you can dunk into the savoury mixture of creamy potatoes and ch0rizo that gives it a slight kick. All together being paired with a selection of gourmet freshly brewed coffee! From the start this has always been the cafe that I really wanted to recommend to you, so glad to be finally starting on this post! Many would say Melbourne as a city of cafes and if it is, this is the King of the cafes! Totally ranked number 1 by yours truly! If you ask me which to go of you only have time for one, this is the one to go all out.
For those whom have been following this Down Under In Mel series, you would have known that I was disappointed from my first attempt to dine at the Hardware Societe, when I was quoted a super long waiting time. Hidden in on of the hipster lane in town, you would never have expect a bustling crowd or a long queue at all. Perhaps this is the undesirable pull and characteristic of cafes in Melbourne and the reason that there are so famous and popular. Away from the bustling streets, they are hidden slightly, needing a little exploration down in the laneway and upon reaching you will discover their hype in the oasis of their own. To be fair, the first time that I visited was a Sunday and it is in the late morning, this may also be a peak period for the cafe since brunch on Sundays are especially popular among the locals. So to prevent the wait. Go early. Many people come here for the sought after all day breakfast and especially the baked eggs which I would introduce in a short while. Keep in your saliva for the time being!
This time around, I came straight after handling over the rental car, being the kiasu Singaporean, slightly after 8am. There was no queue, but the cafe is already packed and bustling with conversations, shuffling feet of waitress and coffee aromas. This definitely should’t be a surprise, given that Melbournians are early birds and have a healthy balance work life balance. Furthermore, Hardware Societe are only open till 3pm! I was immediately shown to an outdoor table by a super zealous, passionate waiter, he is just full of sunshine and happiness! You can really tell that he put in his heart into the job and he really loves his work. Seeing him just brighten up my day from the gloomy and dark morning in Melbourne. This is the difference between them and us, they taking pride and us just feeling that we are doing a second class job. The outdoor tables were cute, despite the chilling weather they had warmers which really help with it. However, asked for an inside seat as I was afraid that the food will get cold fast and we really like eating while feeling warm.
The interior of the cafe was the same as that waiter, bright and happy, the decor was fun, loving, gorgeous and happy. Hardware Societe consists of two sides, on the left was a small little bar top with seats that provide a little preview of the food shuffling off the lines to all of us, the hungered diners! There are also individual tables and also a large shared table on the right ride, near the cashier and pastry corner that I was seated in. They make use of bright varied colours and marble decorations, together with metal and wood usage. I also especially loved the cages nest hung lamps that they use to light up the place. They had this cuttings of butterflies that they stick on the walls and it really elevate the place.
What I am fond are their varied yet special menu! Of course, everyone comes here for their BAKED EGGS and they are absolute heavens! But beside this, they also have many sorts of other creations on their menus. Unlike other all day breakfast that they you have been to theirs are really out of the box. A coffee is definitely the first thing to start my visit. I had a special, which was the Piccolo. This is rather uncommon as it is a slightly more robust and stronger kind of Latte, something like a espresso diluted with steamed milk. Given the rather long couple of days I had, this is exactly what I need. Do note that this is quite a small cup. The coffee came with a almond bite by the side which really accompanies well since I usually take my coffee without sugar.
Then here comes the food! I shall keep you guys waiting for the Baked Eggs first. The other dish that I ordered was the Lobster Benedict. After all it just wow me when I first had a look at the menu, so why not give this a try. It came in a charcoal brioche bun which was soft and buttery, then a double perfectly poached egg which I have to say they really handle them well and perfectly. Together with a tasty hollandaise sauce, usually I find the sauce very cloy and heavy but theirs was lighter and I really like it. Gorgeously plated with some garlic aioli. It’s definitely pricey, coming at 26AUD, after all it is lobster! It was a nice dish where I can really taste sweetness of the lobster meat, however the portion isn’t a lot and I feel that the poached eggs doesn’t match with it. A okay okay dish for me only. Nice but definitely did not wow me. On the table are also a couple of jams which are provided for accompany. You can use them together with the bread or toast that usually comes with your plate. They are absolute delicious and packed with flavour. Definitely fresh and homemade as you can really taste the fruit out of the jar.
Now the Baked Eggs, this is hands down the highlight of Hardware Societe. Slightly crisp on the outside, fluffy and creamy once you dunked in. It’s like a western version of our steamed eggs and take it to another dimension. All presented to you in a small little dutch oven for you and accompanied with some crispy baguette on the side that act as the best spoon for the dish ever! There are a few version, which are Un, Deux or Trois respectively. The Un is a vegetarian version which consists of confit leeks, mushrooms and pine nuts while the Trois is the pork rillette version. The one I had was the Deux which is also the most famous one. It came with chrizo, potato, peppers and toasted almond. All finished with drizzled aioli. The crispy spicy chrozo and creamy potato really goes so well with the eggs and once you break the yolk and mix it together. It is literally a spread on it’s own for the baguette. This is the dish where you just want free flow baguette! Given the weather, it increases the vibes of having a stew like dish like Baked Eggs. Cold outside but the food makes you warm from the inner. Super heartwarming! The Baked Eggs cost 19AUD.
After a slight trip to the washrooms and passing by other tables, another dish has caught my eye! We decided to go all out, given that, who knows when I will be back again! The crispy pork belly really tempt me! We decided to order another dish, Pork Belly & Fried Eggs. Eggs too! Seems like I will be trying 3 different ways of Hardware Societe eggs today! The dish came with a Jamon, Fennel Potato Croquettes and fried eggs topped with bans and romesco sauce. I really like the croquettes as the way jamon goes with potato, it is just a perfect paring. Then you cut a little of the fried eggs and a dash of the beans and sauce, The way it blend, only unbelievable! Then there is the pork belly. It is crackling crispy on the skin and the meat is just falling apart, all together with a nice distribution of fat and meat on the cut. Although a little on the heavy side, I am really glad that it came with some greens to make me feel less guilty. The Pork Belly & Fried Eggs cost 25AUD.
Besides the menu aside, the fresh bakes are display on the counter besides the cashier if you are looking for something light and to go with your cuppa for the day. Just look at how nice their host is. The staff really makes me feel welcomed and warm. They are really nice! I even had a brush with a fellow Singaporean also. Seems like this place isn’t too much of a secret already! A dish that I would really like to try next time would be their Scallop & Tuna Millefeuille. I believe that I had run out of words and adjectives in my brain while describing Hardware Societe! Probably I would just finish with this, “If you have not been here or choose not to be here, you would be missing out in life and live in regret forever!”