Mon – Fri: 7:30am – 3pm
Sat – Sun: 8:30 am – 2pm
“Some things are just hard to achieve, like climbing a mountain, beating traffic or simply finding seating at a cafe. Journalists are claiming that in our current economic situation, Gen Y would rather go to cafes than buy clothes and that they are prepared to wait in line for exceptional food. Apparently this tolerance to queuing has been developed over a number of years as we wait for a toilet at music festivals or line up for the new iPhone days before its launch. This is distinctly different to Gen X’s lack of patience for quality. I don’t fully understand Gen X but I do know a fabulous Melbourne cafe called Hardware Societe. It’s one of the most popular and prominent cafes in Melbourne and is a shared love interest from both generations.
Past the hectic and eye-opening Hardware Lane and across Lonsdale Street you will find the quieter street that Hardware Societe has resided on for a number of years. I have been to Hardware Societe on a number of occasions and each time I forget that I’m actually in a Melbourne cafe. There is so much love radiating from the modern decor and the staff are really friendly
. Whether it’s the warm lighting, the black felt wall paper or the new barista station – it’s certainly not a typical Melbourne cafe. Rather, Hardware Societe brings all the right elements from urban cafes alike to present a gem within the concert jungle that is Melbourne’s CBD.
People don’t have a problem with coffee – they have a problem without coffee. Hardware Societe previously sourced their coffee by Genovese Coffee, but on our latest visit we learnt they had now transitioned to Padre coffee. Padre coffee had started small around Brunswick East but has now made a serious stamp within Melbourne with a presence at Padre Coffee South Melbourne Market and The League of Honest Coffee. My long black [$3.50] was the ‘Daddy’s Girl’ House blend. It was certainly a step up from Genovese. It was enjoyable as it had a smooth taste and did the job of caffeinating me, but it lacked the distinct ‘carmel, milk choc’ flavour described on the tasting board. Improvement is a constant and I have no doubt it will be better with at my next visit.
While the coffee at Hardware Societe had never satisfied my coffee criteria, they certainly make up for it with their incredible brunch menu. The menu is constantly being refreshed with innovative and just simply damn right delicious food. The famous Omelette – confit duck, truffled forest mushrooms, sage [$17] was on the bill, but I comfortably decided on their Scrambled Eggs – smoked trout, crème fraiche, chervil [$16].
The baguette bread was slightly cold and soft with a lovely crunchy surface. The cream fraiche had soaked into the bread and gave a lovely moist taste which complemented the soft smoked trout. The scrambled eggs were cook to perfection with a lovely yellow look and a fluffy bounce. With all of these elements it created the perfect scene to create my own brunch experience. You could be a bore and eat the elements separately, but the adventurous type should try the scrambled eggs within the baguette.
They say love requires dedication and patience. It’s the same kind of mind-set needed if you plan to see Hardware Societe on a weekend. They have many fans, so be prepared for a bit of a wait. Personally I’m a weekday man. There is nothing like an upbeat start to the morning grunt by going to Hardware Societe. It has been and always be one of our top favourites when it comes to brunches in Melbourne.”
“There’s no place more in the CBD that Mr LB and I love more than Hardware Societe. Long before we created Brunch Addict, we had found this cafe on many blogs that touted that this place was the creme de la creme of cafe supremacy. I still remember the first time I had ever gone there, ordering the Omelette – confit duck, truffled forest mushrooms, sage [$17]. For almost two years with ad-hoc pop-ins on the way to work, this menu item was never to be seen once rotated out. That was, until this occasion.
I’d recently started a new job which meant that I was back to working in the city. It was my second day back in town and Mr LB and I decided to check out our old favourite. They had recently renovated, taking over the space next door and expanding it into The Little Marche, part of one and the same Hardware Societe. There were a few people milling about inside – not nearly as many that line up outside on weekends – when we took a seat indoors. I ordered my soy latte and looked forward to my complimentary mini donut – the perfect pick-me-up that always comes with the coffee even if you order take away.
There was something different about my latte though and Mr LB picked up that they’d changed the bean from Genovese to Padre and I have to admit, it was the first time I’d had a Padre coffee and been impressed. I’d decided to order my favorite omelette for old times sake and when it came out, it was different to how I remembered. The sourdough that came with the omelette was chewy, but I liked that there was a little bottle of olive oil on the table to drizzle on top. The omelette itself was delicious – perhaps the torn duck was slightly dry, but I barely noticed.
The Little Marche adds a new dimension to Hardware Societe. It provides more space and new life – shelves stocked with goodies, a display of fresh bread and a counter full of cakes. For Easter, The Little Marche was decked out with incredible looking hand-painted praline eggs.
You’d be lucky to get in the doors within 45 minutes on the weekend, but if you’re in the city on a weekday and fancy a brunch, this is the place to be. The service is always fantastic, the food is never sub-par and the desserts are always worth getting. Mr LB and I couldn’t recommend this place more – Hardware Societe is the epitome of great brunching.”
Final thought: “Our top pick in town”