The Hardware Societe

Posted on September 5, 2011


Third time lucky hey? It took 3 goes (1 where my dear friend refused to wait for a table and another when they closed for a short period over winter – just my luck!) till I signed up to The Hardware Societe (120 Hardware Street, Melbourne VIC) appreciation club. It’s already a very long list of members in case you didn’t know. Bloggers left, right and centre have sung high praises of this quaint little cafe on that not-as-busy end of Hardware Lane. I was getting quite desperate to get in on the action; I even tried to secure a booking, but it was in vain (damn these trendy no booking policies), and then resorted to picking their brain on the best time to visit. Early was the answer.

Although breakfast/brunch is the game they’re more renowned for, morning person I am not. So my best bet was to be first in for the lunch service. I got there at 12.10pm; 10 measly minutes after their lunch run began and I still had to wait for a seat! Did I mention that this place is uber popular? Mostly with trendy young urbanites and a sprinkling of the corporate set. In order to keep us entertained and focused on the food we were waiting for, the waitstaff provided us with menus while telling us the turnover would be quick, but I was actually more interested in their little display of broken crockery and plants. Too cute.

The space is small, with the counter and communal table claiming all the space on the left, leaving room for a few small tables to the right where a dark wallpaper provides the main point of focus. I didn’t get to observe much more of the inside as we settled for 1 of the 4 little outdoor tables when that became available.

Their menu is fairly small, probably about 10 lunch items to choose from and a daily special as well (most of which is priced at either $16 or $17), but still it was enough for me to struggled with. There were at least 3 things that I wanted. What’s a girl to do? I ended up with something I don’t usually eat at lunch and had heard is rather popular – the seared scallops with parsnips mash, fennel and cucumber salad in a saffron dressing ($17). Yum, great mix of flavours and textures, and I really loved the crunching topping as well although I haven’t quite worked out what it was. Oh they were generous with the sweet juicy scallops too.

My fellow diner opted for the scotch steak with herb butter, watercress and potato stack ($17). While I didn’t sample it, I did note the pinkness of the steak and my companion’s satisfied smiles. Indeed, they confirmed it was a rather delightful lunch.

The Hardware Societe’s coffee is courtesy of Padre and their service was ok. I am a bit ambivalent about their service because while we didn’t have any issues, I did witness a waiter in haste, spilling half a glass of orange juice on a patron a table away. They seem to be constantly busy and the strain clearly shows on some of their staff. It however remains a fantastic spot to grab a feed, just don’t expect a long lazy session because there will most definitely be people wanting your seat – probably me!