I have one morning alone in Melbourne to eat a delicious breakfast and a friend has recommended Hardware Société. If it has her stamp of approval then it is bound to be good, so I don’t need to be told twice.
The Hardware St location is down a side street and up a few stairs. It’s practically missable if not for the signage and a few tables outdoors. The acknowledgment I get on entering though, is not.
I am immediately greeted at the door by one of the staff with the most contagious energy and such warmth I can’t help but feel like matching it.
‘Hi babe. You staying or taking away? Want to sit here so you can park your little bag? I love your shirt, is that pandas and bamboo? That’s so cute!! What coffee can i get you?’
It’s one of the best welcomes I’ve had in a while and coffee arrives soon after, the most divine little donut ball perched jauntily on the accompanying spoon.
‘I test them for quality control’ says the other lovely human working in the cafe, ‘it’s a hard job but someone has to do it’ she sighs ironically and winks.
I order the twice baked soufflé – herb and Parmesan soufflé with beetroot pickled pear , smoked almonds, frisée salad, multigrain bread and soft poached eggs ($25) then sit and relax with my coffee. I can’t help but enjoy the nostalgic playlist, late 90’s, Vanessa Carlton and Britney and Savage Garden eat your heart out. The staff nearby sing along.
The restaurant is small, and space efficient, with one long communal table running down the centre of the room. Their cookbook ‘No Eggs on Toast’ in green and pink neatly lines the walls and adorns the front counter along with a couple of divine looking pastries and some handmade nougat for sale. I overhear that this is their smaller location, they have a much larger Melbourne restaurant down near the aquarium at Catherine place, along with others in Barcelona and Paris.
When I look up I realise that the ceiling is covered in beautiful colourful butterflies which adds an almost surreal quality.
The kitchen is in the same room and takes up one counter on the left hand side . The chefs are working compact, and I am doubly impressed with this when the food arrives and it is easily the most beautiful brunch I have seen in a while. The eggs are perfectly poached, the soufflé melts in the mouth and the smoked almonds add crunch but also a delicious umami quality to the dish. The pickled pear is a bit sweet and I have no idea what dressing they have used on those leaves, but I could eat just them for days.
I’m so thrilled and full at the end of it all that I almost forget my suitcase on the way out, what I don’t forget is to pop the tiny round sugary donut in my mouth before I leave. Forget the suitcase and remember the donut? I still think my priorities are sound.
For more info visit the website HERE