The mystery of Urbanspoon and Hardware Société

You could almost set a clock by it. Once every few months a restaurant owner will throw their toys out of the pram at restaurant review website Urbanspoon.  The latest is newly opened Green Park Dining (my review is here) which has posted a complaint that its all important Urbanspoon score has been going “up and down like snakes on a ladder”.  The post finishes with the plea “Urbanspoon if you are listening give us a break”.  I do feel some sympathy given the eternal mystery of Urbanspoon’s rankings. 

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One such mystery is how Hardware Société has managed to stay at the top of the Urbanspoon rankings in Melbourne for so long.  This screenshot (below) was taken yesterday and shows Hardware Société topping the Urbanspoon rankings for “moderately priced” dining in Melbourne.  I decided a revisit was in order to check out just what is so good about Hardware Société and also given the cafe closed for three months earlier this year following fire damage.

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The interior looks fresher and brighter.  There’s a flock of wallpapered butterflies on the walls, lightbulbs dangling on looped cords from the ceiling, rows of delicate china tea cups on hooks and a canary yellow coffee machine.  The menu remains mainly unchanged – including Hardware Société’s most well known dish – the baked eggs.

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My pick is the vego version: baked eggs with cauliflower, pumpkin, brie and pine nuts ($18).  Served in a small cast iron pot the eggs continue cooking at the table to the quicker you eat them the creamier and runnier they are.  It’s a nice reward for gluttony.  The vegetarian lasagna is another standout with layers of zucchini and ricotta and a rich tomato sauce.  

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The coffee at Hardware Société is made using the Daddy’s Girl blend by Padre coffee. The milk comes from St David Dairy a “micro dairy” in Fitzroy.   This attention to detail shows in the coffee which is mellow and creamy.  It even comes with a bit of latté art just to show off.  Beside the long waits for tables on weekends (up to an hour) it’s hard to fault Hardware Société.   But there’s also nothing to distinguish it from a host of other Melbourne cafes which are equally as good.  I’m still not sure how it got that number one Urbanspoon ranking but I do know why every second person was taking a photo of their meal.

Essentials
Details: Hardware Société, 120 Hardware Lane, Melbourne CBD (Ph  Tel: +61 (03) 9078 5992) Open Mon to Friday 7.30am – 4pm, Saturday and Sunday 8am – 2.30pm
Damage: Pricey
8/10 

Posted by: on October 20th, 2014     1 Comment »

Category: Breakfast, Brunch, Cafe, City, Coffee Tags: , , , ,
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Texas barbecue in Australia: has it jumped the shark?

The sweet smell of American barbecue smoke that’s been hanging in the air looks set to dissipate.  For a while there, the traditional Aussie backyard barbie of snags and lamb chops was eclipsed by American barbecue fever. Rather than cooking food on a hot plate, the hallmark of American barbecue is meat cooked low and slow in a “pit” with no direct contact with the flame. In Melbourne you can get your smokers, steaks and sticky ribs fix at any number of places.  There’s Meat Mother, Meat Maiden, Le Bon Ton, Blue Bonnet Barbecue, Fancy Hank’s BBQ, The Lumber Yard, Big Boy BBQ and The Gem…

American BBQ action at The Gem in Collingwood

American BBQ action at The Gem in Collingwood

Click on through to The Guardian to read the rest of this article.  Or here’s my post on my Top Three BBQ Joints in Melbourne

Posted by: on October 19th, 2014     No Comments »

Category: American Tags: ,
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A day at Caulfield: Melbourne Racing Club

The weather was so beautiful in Melbourne this weekend but I think the sun was shining a little brighter at Caulfield.  The Caulfield Guineas was held on Saturday at the Melbourne Racing Club and I was invited along.  Such a spectacular setting! 

Caulfield

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Posted by: on October 13th, 2014     4 Comments »

Category: Gourmet Events Tags:
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How to make a Grey Goose Le Fizz

I can be a bit of a light weight when it comes to drinking spirits so it was with some trepidation that I accepted an invitation to an evening of vodka cocktails hosted by Grey Goose at Saint Crispin restaurant. I think you can see why I said yes despite my glass-and-a-half tendencies – Grey Goose is one of the most luxurious vodkas and Saint Crispin is one of my favourite restaurants – you can read my review of it here.

Le (1)

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Posted by: on October 10th, 2014     No Comments »

Category: Drinks, Recipe - Drink Tags:
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Why I won’t be trying to get a booking at The Fat Duck Melbourne

Bookings open at 9am today for The Fat Duck Melbourne.  Heston Blumenthal’s flagship restaurant is only going to be in Melbourne for a six month residence and it’s expected bookings will be in hot demand.  Although I am food obsessed and think Blumenthal is a brilliant chef I won’t be hanging online frantically pressing refresh today.  Here’s why:

STORIES

1.  Price Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by: on October 8th, 2014     8 Comments »

Category: City, Dinner Tags:
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