The Hardware Societe has been one of Melbourne’s long-standing brunch institutes. I had visited a couple times several years ago (ahem, pre-foodie days) and didn’t really understand the hype nor was impressed by the café. I thought I would give it another go when I strolled past one afternoon and noticed the new fit-out and expansion.
The Angmoh and I had arranged a double date with Mr. Bean and Milady. They had heard of the Societe’s legendary tales and were keen to be included. We agreed to meet at 10.30 on a Sunday morning. We were reasonably confident of snagging a table, alas, we were joined by the rest of Melbourne’s hungry brunch-seeking crowd, who apparently had the same idea.
As we loitered on Hardware Street, Mr. Bean and Milady entertained us with a recollection from their trip to the Royal Melbourne Show the day before. They were at the dog show and had heard the most polite and perfectly articulated announcement for “all Pekingese bitches to make their way to aisle 7”.
Three-quarters of an hour later, we were finally seated and had our drinks order promptly taken. The beans are from Padre and all our warm coffees were partnered with a little cinnamon sugar-dusted donut. Milady and Mr. Bean were delighted by their coffees and Mr. Bean even dragged out an appreciative “ah”. My mocha was served in its 2 separate components with the espresso having fruity notes and the hot chocolate thick and rich. As the amount of espresso gets diluted with each subsequent topping up of hot chocolate, I ended up with plain hot chocolate in the end. The Angmoh had 2 drinks: iced chocolate and a flat white. He enjoyed both drinks thoroughly.
Iced chocolate $5.50
Conversation topics rotated around politics, footy and food dislikes. Milady steers clear of apricots and hazelnuts, Mr. Bean turns his nose at cooked eggs, The Angmoh avoids pumpkin and I have a disdain for bacon and corn.
Food came swiftly with the portions well-beyond generous and boy, was everything pretty damn delicious. Our couple friends had sinful and extravagant dishes of pork belly and croque madame. There’s nothing like waking up to fatty tender pork and thick creamy béchamel sauce. I held myself back that morning and refrained from stabbing into and sampling their breakfasts. I did, however, poke into The Angmoh’s dish, which was featured on the specials menu. Delicious as it was, I found the dish complex with too many flavours jarring for attention. I loved the pairing of goats cheese with meaty Portobello mushrooms in my choice. The clever use of pepitas gave a delightful crunch.
Brunch at Hardware Societe left us close to bursting and rolling home. The wait was unanimously agreed to be worthwhile and my opinion of the café had veered towards the positive side.
Side note: Sorry for the hazy pictures. They were taken with The Angmoh’s phone, the great grand-daddy of iPhones, the iPhone 3G.