Hardware Societe cafe review

Lobster benedict, served inside a charcoal bun, is a crowd favourite.
Lobster benedict, served inside a charcoal bun, is a crowd favourite. Photo: Eddie Jim

10 Katherine Pl Melbourne, VIC 3000

View map

Opening hours Mon-Thu 7.30am-3pm; Fri 7.30am-10.30pm; Sat-Sun & public holidays 8am-3pm
Features Licensed
Payments eftpos, Visa, Mastercard
Phone 03 9621 2100

And then there were two. A decade down the track, well-loved Melbourne laneway cafe Hardware Societe has cloned itself and opened a fandangled new space a few blocks towards Flinders Street. Bigger, bolder and with queues an hour deep, Hardware Societe mark two continues its mission to make brunch the most important meal of the day by refusing to serve eggs on toast, among other radical left-wing heresies. Vive la revolution.

Space

Testament to the cruel and cut-throat cafe world in which we live, the short-lived Archie Green has been repurposed by HS's Di and Will Keser into a luscious modern space where retro touches (cane chairs, round marble tables, French vintage posters) and plenty of greenery collude to keep the rugged warehouse bones in check. Ten points for the genre-busting salmon pink and deep green colour scheme, which mimics the cover of their new Hardware Societe book (written by Good Food contributor Michael Harden).

The city's second Hardware Societe cafe follows a pink and green scheme.
The city's second Hardware Societe cafe follows a pink and green scheme. Photo: Eddie Jim

Food

No eggs on toast. If you didn't get the memo, it's written in bold neon on the back wall. Eggs still feature heavily on the long menu, however, including the crowd favourite lobster benedict, the cold poached seafood and soft eggs served in a charcoal bun, all the better to show off the vivid yellow of a hyper-tangy hollandaise (warning: do not attempt to eat with hands). Delve deeper still into the French program with boudin blanc in a cushion of soft polenta with field mushrooms and fried rosemary – a comfort-heavy dish perfect for autumn.

On the sweet end of the spectrum, a fat wodge of fried brioche perfumed with hibiscus syrup is bejewelled with fresh berries and a cracker of a vanilla meringue breaking its crust to reveal gooey guts of chantilly cream. Plus, excellent croissants from Noisette.

Fried brioche is bejewelled with fresh berries and vanilla meringue.
Fried brioche is bejewelled with fresh berries and vanilla meringue. Photo: Eddie Jim

Coffee

Padre's Daddy's Girl espresso blend is the parochial choice of many a Melbourne caff thanks to its low-acid, full-bodied charms, which marry equally well with cows' milk (St David's Dairy), oat milk (Minor Figures) or soy (Happy Happy Soy Boy). It's jazzed up here with some serious latte art from our anonymous barista. Teas, including a zesty oolong orange blossom, are served in pots snuggled in colourful knitted cosies worthy of a CWA luncheon.

Drinks

Next-level latte art at Hardware Societe II.
Next-level latte art at Hardware Societe II. Photo: Eddie Jim

You can breakfast like a Sun King in the dying days of the monarchy with a sparkling cocktail in hand such as a bellini, mimosa or boozy tea: a mix of prosecco and its daily-changing iced tea (just don't drink to the point it's off with your head). It's a well-rounded booze list, with wine on tap including a Yarra Valley chardonnay and Tuscan rosé – hit them by the glass or carafe.

Loving The indoor waiting spot for dogs, complete with comfy bed and water bowl.

Not getting How queuing for brunch has turned into Melbourne's favourite pastime.

Vegan factor Bucking the vegan-friendly trend, Hardware Societe still flies the flag for lacto-ovo moderates.

Overheard "When we get in there, we order the coffee straight up. I'm dying."

Caffe latte $4

https://hardwaresociete.com/