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I caught up with my friends Z & B for another mid-week, city breakfast. Z has become quite the fan of Melbourne Gastronome (aren’t we all?) so after reading the review of Hardware Societe, we decided we had to try it for ourselves.

Hardware Societe is situated on Hardware Street (not Lane!) in the city across from an amazingly named take-away outlet – McSpanky’s (gold!!!!). It’s a gorgeous little place with lots of cute, decorative touches and even a little herb garden out the front.

While I was waiting for B & Z I took a surreptitious photo of the cuteness..

… and I enjoyed an excellent coffee (Supreme) which even comes with a little miniature cinnamon donut (cute – although unfortunately, not something I can eat):

The breakfast menu had lots of interesting options and I decided on the house-made bircher, it sounded great with poached peaches, plums, berries, figs and pistachio. Unfortunately, in addition to my wheat allergy I am also allergic to stone fruit (I had an anaphylaxis years ago), so I ordered the bircher and asked if I could have it without the fruit on top. The waitress (and owner) got a bit defensive and explained that she would not do so as she has “particular views about the way that the food looks and tastes”. There was more to this exchange but I will leave it at that. Now, I understand that cafes with small kitchens may not want to make changes to standard orders, but I didn’t think omitting some fruit would really be such a problem. In any event, if they had noted on the menu that no changes are to be made, this little confrontation could have been avoided.

After I further explained my wheat allergy she told me I could have the potato tortilla, which is gluten free:

Unfortunately, I had eaten a potato tortilla the night before at MoVida Aqui, so wasn’t very enthusiastic with the breakfast I ended up with. The tortilla was fine, perhaps a bit underseasoned and it was fridge-cold. The prosciutto on top was deliciously salty and the heirloom tomatoes were delicious.

B ordered the scrambled eggs, which came with roe on top and a baguette on the side:

She enjoyed her breakfast but didn’t get the whole way through her (rather large) serve of scrambled eggs. I had a taste of the scrambled eggs and they were some of the best I have had – warm, rich, studded with peas and herbs and deliciously soft.

Z ordered the bircher I was denied:

Yes it looked great and Z said it tasted great as well.

As I was leaving, I spied some macarons, so I grabbed some and snacked on them later in the office:

On the left (with an odd blue colour) is a butterscotch macaron, on the right, the berry macaron. These are obviously not the cutest looking macarons I have encountered, with uneven, knobbly, cracked domes. But I still had high hopes they would taste good. On the taste test, the filling of the butterscotch macaron was great – it tasted exactly like the sauce from a sticky date pudding – yum! The filling for the berry macaron didn’t have a lot of flavour (in fact Z, who also took one back to the office, sent me an email to say it tasted of nothing). The macaron shells themselves were quite flavourless and they were heavy and dense (perhaps too much almond meal?), they didn’t have the lightness that I love in a macaron.

So all in all, a conflicted breakfast experience. The space is very cute, coffee is great and the food is well executed. Personally, I can’t see myself going back there after the odd confrontation about my order. It made me feel uncomfortable. Certainly you should try Hardware Societe just don’t make any changes to your order and hopefully you won’t get the grilling I did!


Hardware Societe
120 Hardware St, Melbourne
Phone 03 9078 5992

Hardware Societe on Urbanspoon

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8 Responses to “Hardware Societe: a mixed bag”

  1. Hannah says:

    Blue butterscotch? I don’t even think the craziness of that can make up for rude/uncompromising service! Sorry to hear you were treated like that – such experiences tend to put a dampener even on the good parts of meals!

  2. Aw, I’ve been waiting for a chance to visit Hardware Societe and am disappointed to read that you had an uncomfortable experience there. Maybe I’ll have better luck since I don’t have food allergies, but still, surely the customer is always right when you own a restaurant, even if they order well-done steak or don’t want stone fruit in their meal.

    Jetsetting Joyce

  3. Emily says:

    Yes I do think it is a great place – very cute decor and the food was pretty great as well. I don’t really like being critical about places but the fact is I did have an uncomfortable experience there.

    I don’t like making things difficult for people but on the allergy front I really didn’t think my little request would be such a big drama.

    Anyway, you should go and check it out for yourself, they even had Crema Catalans there – yum! Oh and the coffee was great (not that that is a big priority for you Joyce!!)…

  4. hardware societe says:

    Thank you for your comments, though I would like to answer some of your complaints.

    Firstly, we take pride in how we serve our food, and serving the bircher museli without stonefruit does not do the dish justice. From memory, you told me you were allergic to stonefruit, and I could NOT guarantee that our museli mix did not contain that. As you can appreciate we take allergies very seriously and I did not want to put you or myself at risk. I am sure you understand that and appreciate the position we were in.

    If you did not enjoy your experience with us, and for that I am terribly I am sorry. Obviously I would like to give you the opportunity to try us again, and see if we meet your expectation 2nd time around, given we love what we do and take pride in the food we serve and service we provide.

    As Joyce said, the customer is always right, yes I agree, but I was simply protecting the both of us.

    As for the macaroons, if you have never attempted to make them before, the quality is totally dependent on the age of the egg white (the older the better) and the texture of the almond meal etc. The dark blue had intended to be a darker colour, the colouring was clearly we were in the hands of the gods! As for the berry filling, it was blackberry and white chocolate and black berries are light on flavour.

    Very sneaky on the photo front, impressed!
    My apologies once again, I hope we see you back again. Di

  5. Amy says:

    I loved beetroot, and was so excited to read on Mellie’s blog that Di and her partner were back. I’m trying out their new place tomorrow morning for breakfast, and, as is my wont, started salivating a day or night in advance and wanted to whet my appetite by reading a few blogs and reviews. I read your review and started wondering whether I should sms my friend to change venues for the morning! thankfully, I found the comment from Di above and have to say that I’m really impressed by her response to you and your reader’s comments. Tangentially, I’m not a big macaroon person, but I’ll be making sure to order a few to take away tomorrow morning. I’m glad i found your blog, too, i’ll have to subscribe =)

  6. Lyz says:

    Loved, loved, loved my breakfast at HS, but yes, a friend of mine also got off on the wrong foot with them. Lusting after a croque monsieur, deliriously excited she could have it on gluten free bread, she was a little disappointed to be told it could not be made without the béchamel. I’ve cooked professionally, I completely understand the need to not deviate from tradition, however for those who go through life without experiencing the joy that goes beyond ham and cheese, maybe a concession can be made…maybe.

  7. […] breakfast. At last count there was a crazy-frenzy of 27 blog posts just on Urbanspoon – 1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/10/11/12/13/14/15/16/17/18/19/20 … (ok i give up… too lazy to link […]

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