After two solid days of eating our plan to squeeze in breakfast AND lunch on our last day in Melbourne started to fall apart. We honestly didn’t think we could ingest two more meals. Realising we would have to combine the two we checked out of our hotel and headed in to the city centre for brunch. I had one place in mind – The Hardware Societe.
The Hardware Societe is located in one of Melbourne’s laneways. This is what Sydney has always been missing – small places, all over the city, doing their own thing. Sydney is slowly changing with the likes of Bulletin Place, Angel Place, York Lane and others being redeveloped, but Melbourne has the lead and it’s places like this that make the city so great.
When we reached Hardware Lane we could see a LOT of people milling around. How long was the wait for a table for two on this bustling Saturday morning? Around 35-40 minutes. As we didn’t want to lug our bags any further and really had nowhere else to be we took a seat on the front steps of one of the nearby stores and waited our turn.
Dylan ducked inside to order takeaway coffees to keep us going while we waited. That alone took around 15 minutes. It was clearly an extremely busy morning. Luckily the coffee was worth the wait.
Finally inside it dawned on me – the cafe accepts cash only. I don’t tend to carry cash on me as I find it easier to use card everywhere I go. Thankfully we had just enough for brunch (otherwise Dylan probably would have throttled me!)
Croque Madame – hot smoked salmon, herbed potato salad with crème fraîche ($20.00).
After much deliberation I settled on the croque madame. But clearly didn’t really think things through. Only when it was placed in front of me did I realise how big the dish was. Made with thick slices of brioche, the croque madame was a tower of bread, salmon and gruyere… with a fried egg on top… and a side of potato salad. Not really the ‘light’ meal I probably should have ordered.
That aside, I got stuck in and before long was hooked and found stomach capacity to finish the whole thing. Gently grilled brioche with a crisp edge and moist, tender crumb made the sandwich rich. Gruyere and a stack of hot smoked salmon in between made it even richer. The fried egg on top wasn’t cooked perfectly though being organic and extremely fresh its flavour was divine. A side of herbed potato salad could be seen as another heavy addition but I felt it worked beautifully with the salmon and cut through the richness of the brioche, egg, cheese combination.
Omelette – smoked bacon, confit potatoes, triple cream brie ($18.00).
Dylan ordered the omelette. A gorgeous golden omelette filled with smoky bacon, tender confited slices of potato and melting pieces of triple cream brie. We quite possibly ordered the two richest dishes on the menu! The Hardware Societe’s portion sizes are extremely generous – Dylan’s omelette came with three pieces of sourdough (and you might notice the plates hardly fit on the little bench we were sitting at).
Organic orange juice ($4.50).
Multiple drinks at brunch is compulsory. Coffee, check. Water, check. Orange juice, check. The Hardware Societe’s tumbler of orange juice was particularly good – icy cold (mandatory for orange juice if you ask me), refreshing and sweet. What’s more, it tasted of actual oranges. Tasty, tasty oranges.
And we were full to the brim again.
We deliberated, ordered, ate and paid in the same amount of time as we’d waited for a table. Chefs did not stop churning out food the whole time and everything we saw leaving the semi-open kitchen looked impressive. But although the food was delicious with so many other great options in Melbourne I don’t know if I’d queue for that long again. Hopefully next time we’ll arrive at a less hectic period.
The Hardware Societe
120 Hardware Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9078 5992