The Hardware Societe is without a doubt a Melbourne institution for breakfast goers. Following in the steps of true Melbourne form, it is situated down a quaint little laneway just off Lonsdale Street.
Being such a Melbourne icon, it came to my surprise that there wasn't a line of people queuing out the door on the morning that I went (indeed, the venue was only half full). That being said, it was a blistery cold morning, and a Monday at that, which likely explains the lack of patrons. This fact, however, was only a bonus for me as within seconds of my arrival I was seated and had ordered a strong coffee and a croque monsieur.
The coffee was exceptional as always (instant death in Melbourne if that's not the case). However, the croque monsieur was unfortunately tasty but not exceptionally delicious. The overall sandwich was a tad dry (a dash more béchamel would have helped) and lacked in any sort of acidity to offset the richness of the dish (tomatoes in the side salad perhaps). Nonetheless, it was a satisfying meal that kept me full well into the day.
The venue itself is not the cosiest of places (albeit, this probably wasn't helped by the fact that I was placed right beside the constantly opened front door). With its sterile colours and butterfly feature walls (which remind me of a children's hospital ward), the odd attempt at quirkiness (e.g. teacup lined walls) failed to give the venue a homely feel. Overall, though, it was a pleasant experience and not a venue that I would be opposed to going back to in the future.
Verdict: Like - try it at some point.