Paris is for lovers, and lovers of all things brunch are richly rewarded at this Aussie-style cafe transplanted to a Montmartre side street. I was recently staying in the area, and – despite my undying love of pain au chocolat – was after something slightly more than the local boulangerie. Equally, I wanted to avoid the tourist honeypots around the Place du Tertre. Luckily, I came across Hardware Société, barely a few streets away from where I was staying.
Tucked down a side street (Rue Lamarck) that somehow manages to avoid the chaos of Sacre Coeur despite being right next door, Hardware Société is the French sibling to the owners’ Melbourne-based original cafe. Bringing an Antipodean love for good coffee, bircher and lamingtons to the streets of Paris, the cafe offers a ridiculously good brunch menu, alongside a counter piled high with all manner of pastries and cakes. The surroundings are Paris-chic meets cosy coffee shop; breakfast fans sit side-by-side at close tables, or share friendly communal tables when space starts to run out (which happens quickly; the shot below was taken early!).
The menu itself goes from the simple continental options (breads and pastries, between €3-5), all the way to full-blown opulence (lobster benedict; €20). This being an Aussie joint, it would be rude to not try the bircher – a breakfast concoction of overnight-oats, fruit and milk or cream created by the Swiss but beloved (and perfected, in my opinion) down under. The hearty offering at Hardware Société (€10) combined sweet and tangy raspberries and rhubarb with creamy oats and a sprinkling of pistachios – très bien.
The pièce de résistance however is their daily special featuring fried brioche, or pain perdu. Any given day may see a glorious combination of fruit and sweet things dolloped on top of a hefty doorstep of brioche: when I visited, it was syrupy honey-roasted peaches with toasted hazelnuts, blueberries, and a sweet whipped praline cream. This is possibly one of the most delicious brunch concoctions I’ve ever come across, and have been trying to recreate it at home ever since: surely the sign of a great meal. If you’re in the area (or even outside it – this is worth travelling for) head to Hardware Société but be quick! There was a line outside by the time we left at 10.30am…