17 November 2010
Hardware Societe @ 120 Hardware Street, Melbourne
Sitting unassumingly in a quiet city laneway off Lonsdale Street is Hardware Societe – a delightful little café exuding modern chic charm with its cosy interior, rooster shaped blackboards and ceiling-suspended electrical cords and connecting light bulbs. Limited seating makes it difficult to secure a table during peak hours but the warm and amiable staff will always try their best to accommodate. Armed with honestly prepared food and reasonable prices, Hardware Societe puts most cafes to shame.
The hearty dishes at Hardware Societe are impressively complex in both taste and appearance. If one were to break down the dishes, three ostensible elements can be identified - quality produce, exquisite flavour combinations and flawless execution of simple cooking techniques – elements which drive Hardware Societe‘s considerable success.
Our first dish, the braised chicken, was adroitly prepared - one touch of the fork and the tender chicken flesh would fall effortlessly off the drumstick bone. The accompanying Middle-Eastern inspired sauce was redolent of saffron and rosewater - the floral notes wonderfully complementing the roasted hazelnuts. If you get a chance to sample this dish, be sure to soak up every last drop of its sweet exotic sauce with the broccoli florets. This dish is of superb quality and categorically surpasses any pre-conceived notions of a $16 main meal.
The “Moorish lamb leg” was equally outstanding in both taste and value. The slow-cooked shredded lamb meat was juicy and tender and displayed a remarkable depth of meatiness. The richness of the meat was nicely mellowed out with the sour poppy seed labne and the zesty tang from the cubes of fresh orange. The other salad components - eggplant, green olives, coriander and cherry tomatoes - added their own unique touch of flavour to the lamb. This was a rare, and welcomed, occasion where the salad contributed to the overall dish rather just occupying space as a conventional side. In all, this dish was a beauty and a steal for $16.
The creativity and execution of the dishes at Hardware Societe is commendable – you will be hard-pressed to find similar quality dishes at comparable prices in the Melbourne CBD. If you are looking for a decent city lunch spot that will not break the bank, this eatery is highly recommended.