I managed to avoid eating at Hardware Société in my six years as a Melbourne local, but as fate would have it broke my streak on a recent visit back.
This Twice Baked Cheese Souffle ($23) didn’t really live up to expectations, though not more so than any other menu item that we had at Hardware Société. What I would consider the focal components of this dish – the cheese souffle and poached eggs – were actually quite good. I enjoyed the cheesy taste and the airy but somehow still creamy and dense (is this an oxymoron?) texture of the souffle, as well as the perfect runniness of the masterfully poached eggs. What didn’t quite appeal to me was the multigrain bread doused in an oil, pickled grapes, and nuts that my partner thought tasted a bit stale, and the salad whose limited freshness I felt was inadequate to counter this.
Some restaurants excel on taste and presentation but fail on their portion sizes. Hardware Société does more or less the opposite with their gigantic Confit Free Range Chicken ($26.50), with a truly larger than normal chicken maryland, pulled from some monster of a bird. Though I was in awe of the size of this chook, I was not so inspired by the actual flavour of the meat, which I found to be bland despite the better-than-usual texture of both the meat and the crispy skin covering it. The herby potato salad was much enjoyed as are most potato dishes by my partner, though I felt that there was a lot of room for some additional heat to be added to the system. The swirl of green tangy sauce was perhaps the only thing I truly enjoyed on this plate.
This hot chocolate ($7.50), served deconstructed in classic Melbourne fashion, was quite good, if a bit sweet. Note the addition of a miniature Easter egg, as if it were a little apology for the 15% public holiday surcharge across the menu.
The soy latte ($5.30) was truly quite small, expensive, and unspectacular.
I had quite a few good and special meals on my recent trip to Melbourne, but my trip to Hardware Société wasn’t one of them. It’s possible that we simply chose the wrong items on their menu, but I don’t think I’d give them a second chance to find out.
The Hardware Société
10 Katherine Pl, Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9621 2100