Sunday, 12 August 2012

Review - The Hardware Societe

Tues, 7th August 2012    

The Hardware Societe
118 -120 Hardware St

Cuisine: French, Spanish

Taste Rating: 7.5/10   Value Rating: 7.5/10

The Hardware SociƩte on Urbanspoon

Dropping in at lunchtime, we found the place bustling as expected. One downside to eating here is that the cooking fumes waft over the interior. The aroma is appetising but it's not  so appealing to go back to work with intoxicating parfum sexy de la nourriture in your hair and clothes! Luckily, a little table outside near the entrance had just freed up. So we checked with the waitress and grabbed that table. 

The  Hardware Societe has a nice ambience. It's not due to any particular thing, just little touches that make it a pleasant place to be at. I liked sitting outside, under the verandah, near the curb, with a view of the quiet end of Hardware Lane. The small overhead heat lamps glowed like red rectangles (yes, I haven't forgotten the carbon footprint!). It was winter but comfortable enough where we were.

We didn't check out what specials they had that day but ordered straight off the regular lunch menu. Seared Scallops. Slow-cooked Lamb.

Before you know it, the two dishes were brought to our table. Rustic looking, comfort food in big white bowls. The cheerful waitress obligingly brought a couple of platters so the food could be shared. Again, nice touch - I liked the classic look of my cream-coloured platter with a simple scalloped edge. Also, the simple little table with a marble top on a black petal pedestal.

According to the menu, the scallops were cooked in a 'saffron bean broth, pistou, olive croute, Idiazabal ewes milk cheese'. Pistou is a sauce made of garlic, basil and olive oil which are pounded or ground in a mortar and pestle ('pistou' is 'pounded' in the language of Provence). Pistou is like pesto, except that pesto contains pine nuts. The pistou was served as a green mound on top of the scallops. The six scallops were juicy enough but there was a definite difference in taste between the ones with the seared marks (sweet and flavoursome) and the ones without (not as sweet and more bland). The beans looked like haricot or navy beans, the same beans in canned baked beans but larger, and cooked with a firmer texture (and without the tomato sauce!).  There were two slices of croute (toasted bread) with olive pieces baked in. Surprisingly, these slices were really hard and unappetising so I soaked one piece in the broth and it became slightly more palatable. Aside from that, I would order this dish again as it was not bad overall.

The slow cooked lamb had 'chermoula, israeli cous cous, hazelnuts, minted yoghurt'. Chermoula is a mix of spices, herbs, garlic, coriander, lemon juice, oil and a few other ingredients, with the mix and proportions varying depending on whether it is Moroccan, Algerian or Tunisian chermoula. I'm assuming the lamb has been marinated in chermoula, but am not sure what the gravy in this dish consists of. The flavours were nice, with the lamb tender, but we agreed that it tasted gamey. The Israeli cous cous are little balls of pasta, larger than semolina cous cous - they don't clump together and are rather fun to scoop up and eat. I'm not sure if I would order this dish again as I don't really like gamey meat but the meat could be different on another day.

Overall, a very pleasant lunch in a cafe with a good vibe. Being in a quiet, neat lane gives it that little bit extra ambience. I didn't have time today for the 54% dark callebaut hot chocolate drink but I'm going to redress this asap!

Hardware Lane.
The Hardware Societe is on the right.

Lunch Menu Page 1

Seared Scallops

Slow-cooked Lamb

Nice quiet lane for a curbside meal

Like the simple cream-coloured platter
with scalloped edge

Menu Page 2 - Beverages

Mini Market in the Cafe
Heat lamp for outside dining

The Hardware Societe

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