The mystery of Urbanspoon and Hardware Société

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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 

2 comments

  1. Awww…I feel bad for business owners trying everything to make a good overall impression. Anyway, I think I love the baked eggs you had. Looks so rich and yummy!

    Gourmet Getaways

    1. Gourmet Getaways – I agree it’s tough for business owners and especially food businesses. Urbanspoon is such a popular tool in Melbourne though that they really all do have to take it pretty seriously.

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