I was enjoying the sun at Manly Beach the other weekend with my mate Brother Bear and I remember telling him that “Sydney is my wife. But Melbourne is my mistress”.
While this is probably a strange way to describe my love for these two cities, it is ultimately quite accurate. Sydney for me is home, comfort, familiarity. It has enough for me to be more than happy: good weather most of the time and a nice selection of restaurants. Melbourne, on the other hand, beckons to me with its mysterious alleyways, hidden bars and restaurants, and the almost “international” vibe about it.
Which is probably why after I discovered Hardware Street on my last Melbourne trip, that I completely fell in love. Hardware Street is a short walk up from the main street and is a tiny lane crammed full of great restaurants, bars and cafes with a relaxed atmosphere and some of the most friendliest waitstaff I’ve ever met. It’s in here that you can find the very popular The Hardware Societe.
Outfitted in a very modern manner, it was trendy and cool even at 9.30 am in the morning. The waiting list was a doily on a clipboard out the front, and I put down a table for two before asking for a takeaway skinny latte to sip on while we waited. The coffee was smooth and rich…you could almost feel your internal batteries going up in percentage with every sip. I had a quick oogle of their cakes while I waited – but as you get a mini jam doughnut with your takeaway coffee (amazeballs!) I decided to save myself for the main act.
The breakfast menu was one of the best cafe menus I have ever seen. Brioche, baked eggs, chorizo, smoked salmon – we were spoilt for choice. The waitress then came over and reeled out the day’s specials, which had us dazed, but I immediately latched onto the words “pineapple” and “brioche” and so went for the Fried Brioche with Fresh Pineapple, Mint, Coconut Custard, Pine Nut and Coconut Crumble.
A deliciously tropical dish, I devoured the whole thing. While some may think that French-toasted brioche is a bit over the top…wait until you’ve tried it. Coconut pine nut crumble and that coconut cream…I was in bliss.
My breakfast companion for the morning felt more in the mood for something savoury and went for the Baked Eggs: Chorizo Sausage, Potato, Piqullo Peppers, Mahon Cheese, Toasted Almonds, Aioli.
Tea comes in a choice for one or two, and we shared the French Earl Grey, which came in the cutest tea cosy with the most beautifully patterned tea cups. And a proper tea strainer as well – just the way you’re supposed to do it. They had added a very generous amount of tea leaves, and it was refreshing when they didn’t bat an eyelid but said a “sure, no problem”, when I asked if we could have a top-up of hot water (free of charge).
We eventually ended up leaving because we noticed the growing line down the lane. It was tempting to return here the second day of my Melbourne trip for another breakfast, but unfortunately with my sense of duty to try a new place, I had to give it a miss. But I definitely will be coming by here again the next time I visit!
The Hardware Societe
120 Hardware Street
Melbourne, VIC 3000
(03) 9078 5992