25 September, 2009

Hardware Societe

120 Hardware Street, City; (03) 9078 5992

Beetroot's former owners return with a new venture across the road from their old cafe, which itself is recently closed and re-opened as the disturbingly named McSpankys. (I don't know what the chances are of someone googling 'beetroot' and 'spank' in the same search, but I guess they'll be disappointed if they end up here!)

Hardware Societe could not be less disturbing. It's delightfully fitted out with glass and faux marble counters, muted flocked wallpaper, oversized bare bulbs and bright cabling drooping from the ceiling. It suits the chi-chi clientele dropping in from the west-end business sector, but it's just as big a drawcard to anyone hankering after superb produce cooked with skill and a firm nod to French and Spanish influences.

The menu barely misses a beat through breakfast and lunch options (except for unforgivably misspelling jamon throughout). Breakfast dishes include arroz con leche; miniature, indulgent raspberry doughnuts; or a slice of brioche from a gorgeous high-tea set.

The only certainty when ordering at lunch is that you'll have to come back to try whatever you don't choose. Cod croquetas are crisp and creamy in a puddle of tomato sugo.
The aforementioned jamon, from Casa Iberica, is perfectly wedded on a bocadillo with manchego and membrillo. Another bocadillo option of tortilla, pimientos and aioli is perfectly Iberian, whereas a gooey, moreish goat's cheese and chive souffle says 'oui' to Spain's northeast neighbours.
Other lunch options include charcuterie and tapas plates (the latter perfect for putting off choice and simply sampling some of everything) and a range of exquisite tarts.

And then there's dessert. Daily-baked macaroons might be filled with lemon curd or white chocolate ganache, and the cafe's dual influences are respected with the offer of creme caramel
or creme brulee. A chocolate raspberry tart provides a heavenly end to a deliciously satisfying meal, its ganache filling held in a pert pastry and hugging super-tart raspberries.

At the moment the cafe is open Monday to Friday, but Epicure reports they do want to open weekends from the New Year. Keep your fingers crossed.


  1. Oooh...I've been dying to try it out! Even though I live only a stones throw away, I've been gymming it in he mornings (early), so haven't been able to pop in for brekky. And I work on the other side of town, so haven't made it for lunch yet either. I wish they would open for dinner or on the weekends!

    BUT, I have the week after next off and plan on trying it out. It all looks delicious!

  2. I don't blame you for being keen! Let me know what you think once you get there.

    Fingers crossed they come through with plans for night/weekend opening in the New Year. I'd shop in town if there were more places like that to eat at.

  3. Good coffee and perky staff. I'm looking forward to lunching there soon!

  4. It sure kicks a lot of goals. I brunched there last week, and while I went the french toast, my dining partner tried out a lunch option of half baby chicken salad - excellent.

  5. I tried there last week, was very dissapointed with the service and quality of food, not to mention the high prices. nat again for me

  6. The Hardware Societe24 February 2010 at 19:02

    In response to your previous comment by anonymous, if this person was disappointed by the quality of food, and service, perhaps they should have mentioned something to us as opposed to posting an anonymous comment? I would like to emphasise that we take great pride in the quality of food we serve, and have never had such a complaint. Similarly, regarding service. If anonymous does read my response, I would welcome you calling me to discuss this at the cafe, 03 9078 5992. As for high prices, nothing is over $16, for a small, boutique city cafe, it is more than reasonable, hence our feature in Epicure on 23 February, and our 3 star allocation in Cheap Eats.

  7. I have to agree, I think the cafe presents good value, and I've enjoyed each item I've sampled from the breakfast and lunch menu.

    Just reading over the original review has me looking forward to my next visit :)