Yes, again with the lame title! But I swear that’s the only lame thing in this post, because the folks at The Hardware Societe are serious about producing a beautifully delicious brunch for patrons (a 20-25 minute wait minimum in the cold Melbournian morning will reveal that the customers are also serious about a seriously good brunch!).
Once our names were ticked off the wait-list doily by the tall and handsome waiter, we were ushered inside to any available seat – almost exclusively communal tables there. I’m not a fan of large, shared tables as firstly, you get no privacy to talk comfortably with your dining partner, and also because it may bring about awkward situations like sitting in front of affectionate lovebirds, or needing to ask the stranger next to you to pass the rapadura sugar who only responds with a stare, or being too embarrassed to take more photos in front of them – all three of which happened to me.
Luckily the very wonderful coffee that was soon brought out to us helped to fade out the discomfort and chill in our faces and bones. The food took a while to arrive, but it was only to be expected with the crowd, and I’m happy to report that it was certainly worth the wait!
The baked eggs with chorizo and pimento came in a small, rustic cast iron pot with pieces of baguette drizzled with olive oil on the side. The longer you leave the eggs, tomato, chorizo, cream, nuts, etc in the pot undisturbed, the more the eggs cook – so if you like eggs runnier, spoon around and up into your mouth faster! It was the heartiest breakfast I’d had in a long time, and it was getting difficult to finish especially with the baguette slices. I guessed at least 3 eggs in the pot, but the waitress confirmed only 2 eggs were used. The mushroom dish also tasted beautifully buttery and perfectly cooked.
I’m unsure whether to call the place a cafe or restaurant. The food is certainly a cut above your average cafe fare, but the atmosphere (casual and homey), constant whir of the coffee machine and in-and-out affair rings true of a cafe. Anyway. I’m definitely coming back, regardless of their seating arrangements and some rude wait staff, and want to try more of their adorable desserts too!
Side thoughts: After admiring and sipping our coffees I stood around watching the baristas at the counter until our food was ready, and the guy who was adding the steamed milk and creating latte art made an impression on me. Although there were plenty of orders there, he didn’t rush. He poured the milk gently and with visible concentration, holding the cup and jug up to his eye level, almost smiling as he finished up the artwork. Wasn’t too preoccupied to flash a smile and peace sign, either. The coffee I had there was the best I’d had during my short trip, and it confirmed my belief that heartfelt passion that starts quietly in one person will manifest in their work to touch many others.