The Hardware Societe, Melbourne CBD

One of my favourite cafes in Melbourne is The Hardware Societe. If friends ask me where they should go for breakfast in the city, I usually recommend this cafe but with a warning. According to Urbanspoon, The Hardware Societe is also the most reviewed and blogged about restaurants in Melbourne and therefore extremely popular. My last visit to the cafe would have been almost two years ago and when I found myself in the city on a Saturday morning and looking for somewhere to eat, I tentatively headed towards Hardware Lane to see how long I would need to wait before I could eat.

As feared, there was a lengthy queue of twenty-five people waiting outside to be seated. I took my place in the line to give my details, all the while formulating a back-up plan to head to Mr Tulk at the State Library if the wait was longer than fifteen minutes. I’ve said it before but there are distinct advantages to dining alone! To my pleasant surprise, I got to bypass the crowd was seated immediately inside at the communal dining table near the kitchen.

Looking around the table, the most popular breakfast dish seemed to be the baked eggs and I was almost tempted to follow suit, until my eyes honed in on the French toast towards the bottom of the menu. When I gave my breakfast order, my lovely attendant asked if I had seen the specials and pointed out the brioche with nutella, banana and hazlenuts. I was almost tempted for a moment but stuck with the exotic, tropical sounding Fried Brioche.

Fried Brioche - coconut bavarois, palm sugar, roasted pineapple and passionfruit
Fried Brioche – coconut bavarois, palm sugar, roasted pineapple and passionfruit

Within two minutes of ordering, my breakfast was placed in front of me. I kid you not. I could only speculate that the baked eggs was the dish du jour and the brioche was ready in the wings, waiting for an order.

I must admit that on a Saturday morning that I can’t readily recall what a bavarois is, but it was the first thing I started to eat. Lightly textured, similar to panacotta, with vanilla beans throughout and subtle coconut flavouring, the bavarois was delicious and a perfect accompanient with the brioche. Thickly sliced and cooked French toast style, the sweet bread, the creamy bavarois and crunchy pineapple were beyond description. The passionfruit and thinly sliced pineapple was not tart or sweet and counterbalanced the fried bread. In almost the same speed that the food was delivered to my table, my breakfast was also rapidly devoured.

I was in the restaurant for no more than fifteen minutes and having finished my breakfast, I headed back outside to avoid the stares of the anxious-looking people who were waiting in the queue before me.

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