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Hardware Societe - Melbourne CBD

The Hardware Société on Urbanspoon
On any day, one must manage expectations in trying to find a seat - outside the Hardware Societe.

This has been the darling and the positive delight of foodies, and still is.  Particularly appreciated by the Asian demographic, but really sited in a fantastic locale in the heart of Melbourne CBD, with students, trendies, metrosexuals, shoppers, tourists and hipsters swirling all around.  Located at the northern end of Hardware Lane (an iconic one at that), closer to Little Lonsdale rather than Lonsdale Street, it has been renovated with a more modern feel but with packed seating and very busy staff.  Considering the menu range, the number of eager customers and the constant demand, this is a challenging business model of providing continuing logistics, competitive innovation and required engagement.  The first thing I noticed is that some apparent repeat guests know how to approach the place like a hawk on arrival, zooming down on the next available table and already seemingly waiting to pounce from the line.  Like queueing for yum cha or Mamak's roti, you may have to watch people eat and drink, but you are ready to order when you get a seat.   The food is served on wooden boards and one feels obliged not to waste time at your table, as you can see other eager beavers waiting outside.

A surprisingly delightful wall of elegant butterflies hides around the inside.

So is it worth the effort to make it in at last into the Societe?  The coffee is satisfying, as it should be.
Seasonal produce is emphasised here and so gives a bit of kick to the menu.  There is an Euro layer over the modern Aussie breakfast.   It provides for gluten free requirements, but do read the details below some interesting named items. It is open everyday from 730am-ish till early arvo.  There are Spanish, French, savoury and sweet themes in your choices.  There are both indoor and outdoor seating.   Service is mostly focused, with staff speaking professionally, although at times the food can take more than the usual wait time (hey, the kitchen area is not large).  I did notice that my deep fried roast chicken was a bit off that morning, but otherwise the staff were good despite the market crowd conditions.  I adored the taste of my hard boiled eggs and the avocado spread on my bread. The Societe can be akin to a warm gathering of school alumni members, each connected with their appreciation and love of food with Mediterranean influences and quality Australian ingredients.  Whether they are cold meats, vegetarian, marinated pickles, meringue, good old bacon or fancy garnishing, the Societe blends them into creative offerings.

More lunch than brunch - the big breakky board.

After an often wholesome meal at the Societe, practically you are liberated to delve into other business of the day.  You still recall the chorizo, infused teas or the gherkins. Why is there a cockerel at the front of the place, has to do with the French.  I love the hanging lamps, reeking of post-industrial, modern hype and thoughtful design - maybe some are hanging too low over the guests.
The Society obviously values turnover.  You go there in the midst of a busy schedule.  Even when friends catch up I notice a sense of urgency, you are not there to delve over your refined chocolate for hours.   This is a rare place that is not totally ethnic cuisine, yet not the usual big breakfast from home.  Therein lies the charm of the Hardware Societe, despite its occasional blips, people still have good perceptions and actual experiences of having something unique.  A Melbourne city lane life. The kind of people who gather there. All theses, in addition to the menu.

Counter position can be best if you want a more quiet ambiance, as tables can be packed together and you can watch the kitchen staff at work.


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