Hardware Lane. You know it. It’s where you take out of towners to try and impress them with Melbourne’s multiculturalism (‘look everyone! We have pasta! Eat your heart out, Rome!’) or friends to show them you know cool places to drink (look guys! Beer on a roof! How hip am I?!). It’s not, however, the hub of activity in the mornings which, in the CBD, is actually a relief. Especially if you stumble across a delightful little place like Affogato as I did.
I had no idea where I was going to eat in Hardware Lane. I just wanted to go there and look professional and chic. The Lane between Lonsdale and Little Bourke offers as much action as a dead pigeon in a dustbin, but between Little Bourke and Bourke there was a smattering of goings on, so I started reading the menu boards on the places that were actually serving breakfast and was warmly (but not annoyingly) greeted at Affogato.
The guy seemed like a bit of a dude, so I took a seat inside, ordered my French toast (three options available – I chose the mixed berries and ice cream option for $13) and marvelled at how similar the décor was to The Lane in Eltham. Seriously, this place is like its little sister. It’s kind of like what would happen if your mate owned a groovy café. But actually professionally.
Water for the tables comes in some kind of glass scotch decanter, which is perfect to trick raging alcoholics like myself into thinking they’re getting their morning fix without the dreadful side effect of getting fired from rocking up to work hammered. I drank straight from the decanter as I usually would while appreciating the sweet little flower jars on each table.
Now, I’m a size 10. I work hard to stay a size 10, and as such when I road test breakfasts I usually only eat around half of it. I do this so one day someone will love me enough to marry me, and if The Biggest Loser is anything to go by, being thin is the only way someone will ever, ever love me. I also have a slight allergy to wheat, which means that I can’t reeeeally eat it as much as I’d like. Or if I do it shouldn’t be the base of the meal (so of course egg-fried toast is the perfect option for me). Unfortunately when my French toast at Affogato arrived (within 15 minutes of ordering – perfect!) I whimpered with excitement because the crust had a tiiiiny little crunch to it – something I have been wishing for since I started road testing this dish. Sure, it was because the toast was slightly burnt, but that’s a minor oversight. This, of course, meant I would be forced to eat the whole thing simply because this experience may never happen again and I didn’t want to waste it.
The mixed berries sat on top of the toast rather than being spread on/into it like a compote usually is, and the ice cream was definitely not the Home Brand type I have at home for when unsuspecting children visit me and I tell them it’s the ‘expensive stuff’. The highlight of the dish was when I started eating and realised there was two pieces of toast and not just one (see photo proof below).
In short, I loved it. The serving was generous, the quality of the food was great and there was just enough berry sauce to flavour the dish without making the toast soggy. I’ve framed the above photo and hung it on my bedroom wall because I truly believe that the toast and I had a moment, and I hope it’s waiting for me in Heaven when I die.