“The move was obvious,” says Hardware Société co-owner Di Keser of the beloved laneway institution’s expansion almost 10 years after opening on Hardware Street. “The kitchen was worn out and too small, there was no workflow. We just wanted everyone to be able to do their job in an enjoyable space. It’s always more about the Hardware family.”

The new 250-square-metre eatery is on Katherine Place, a few blocks away from the original (the smaller 123 Hardware Street cafe remains open). It seats 110 and has a kitchen four times the size of the old spot. The room is painted in shades of dusty pink and emerald, with ivory panelling, cane chairs and emerald booth seating. Pendant lights hanging over a glass case of cakes and other treats are by Danish design store &Tradition, and handmade alphabet boards list coffee specials. Art by illustrator Mads Francis and vintage French street signs decorate the walls.

Staff members in leather aprons and sneakers are led by manager Aaron Taylor, often clad in a Carmen Miranda-esque headscarf. Di and co-owner Will Keser live in France where they run Hardware Société Paris, so in their absence Taylor runs the show in Melbourne.

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The French-inspired menu has expanded to fit the larger space. Start with a brunch cocktail – there are classics, such as Bellinis and Mimosas, or try the Boozy Tea, which is iced tea spiked with prosecco – then onto oysters with Bloody Mary dressing or grapefruit and gin granita.

More substantial are the baked eggs, which come with either eggplant and ricotta, chorizo and aioli or scallops and jamon. A stack of blinis comes with avocado, prawn gribiche, salmon roe and pickled shallots and pea tendril salad, or there’s lobster Benedict with citrus hollandaise and 64-degree eggs.

On the sweeter side of the menu there’s vanilla and rosewater rice pudding with fresh raspberries and lemon curd, or fried brioche with meringue, Chantilly cream and hibiscus syrup. Coffee is by Padre and milk is from St David’s Dairy.

Hardware is now open until 10.30pm on Friday nights with wine on tap; French pop on the speakers; and a selection of Euro-leaning snacks on the menu, such as veal and pork meatballs with a piquillo pepper sauce, and jamon and Manchego croquettes.

Hardware Société Melbourne
10 Katherine Place, Melbourne
(03) 9078 5992

Hours:
Mon to Thurs 7.30am–3pm
Fri 7.30am–10.30pm
Sat & Sun 8.30am–2pm

hardwaresociete.com

This article was first published on March 4, 2019. Menu items may have changed since publication.