Melbourne laneways: Guide to Hardware Lane (part one)

Arguably the city’s classiest, most European laneway, this pedestrian paradise is all about the good life. Two recent openings have made it an even hotter destination for wining and dining, day and night.

The lowdown

Melbourne’s famous laneways are often narrow, slightly grungy nooks and crannies lined with street art and tiny shops and eateries. Not Hardware Lane, which is more open, and has a European-style sophistication. This relatively broad, sunny pedestrian thoroughfare buzzes with alfresco diners and, if you time your visit right, live music.

People walking through a busy city laneway

Hardware Lane

This was the site of a horse bazaar in the early days of European settlement. After evolving into a street, it was named Wrights Lane in 1857, then rebranded in honour of Hardware House 70 years later. Running north-south through three city blocks, Hardware Lane is technically Hardware Street between Lonsdale and Little Lonsdale streets.

New kids on the block

With outlets in Tel Aviv, Paris and Vienna, Israeli celebrity chef Eyal Shani has turned to Melbourne for his sixth Miznon. A coup for Melbourne and Hardware Lane, this Israeli-style eatery is focused on pita-bread pockets, from falafel to trout. Fresh, local ingredients add an Australian edge and a whole lot of healthiness – so order some booze if you feel too virtuous.

Another exciting new destination is Rice Paper Sister. The sibling of South-East Asian restaurant-bar Rice Paper Scissors, this promises to be another popular option for casual eating and drinking.

A delicious looking Asian dish on a table

Rice Paper Sister

Wine and dine some more

With its fresh, simple seafood and warm hospitality, Claypots Barbarossa will get you thinking about a trip to the Mediterranean. Beer and wine flows, there’s complimentary tapas during the weekday aperitivo hour, and when they’re not playing records there’s live music.

The Euro-style good times continue at Campari House, where there are five levels to choose from. Will it be pasta and wine on the ground floor? Beer and pizza in the lounge? Or cocktails and antipasto on the rooftop?

A rooftop bar with a view of the city skyline

Campari House

Kirk’s Wine Bar, and French Saloon directly above, also nod to Europe. The bar is actually open all day, so from a Croque Monsieur for breakfast to late-night cheese and wine, temptation awaits. The upstairs restaurant’s decor and menu has an easy elegance midway between Paris bistro and a big old dining room in Provence.

Candlelight, velvet curtains, cosy booths and little touches of retro-vintage beckon at Charlie’s Bar. Did we mention this basement den also has cocktails, a long wine list and tapas, among other reasons to stay up late?

Daytime treats

Don’t wait until sunset to take a stroll down Hardware Lane. Among its most enduringly popular spots for daytime dining, from weekday lunch to weekend brunch, is The Hardware Societe. This cafe’s menu leans toward Spain and France, from baked eggs with chorizo and piquillo peppers to duck au vin.

La Petite Creperie is all about France. The primary attraction is sweet crepes and their savoury equivalent, galettes, but other Gallic favourites include baguette sandwiches and ballsy cider. Ooh la la! There’s another slice of Francophile heaven along the way at La Belle Miette. The destination for possibly the world’s finest and prettiest macarons is retail focused, but there are a few seats for instant gratification.

Personal pampering

Don’t just treat your tummy and taste buds. G N Designer Jewellers offers stunning diamond engagement rings crafted by in-house master jewellers, and other gorgeous trinkets for ladies and gentlemen. Discerning gents should also visit Oscar Hunt for a Saville Row tailoring experience without the flight to London. Spend the savings on a made-to-measure suit or coat that quietly but firmly marks you as a man of exemplary taste.

All this shopping, eating, drinking, chatting and laughing on Hardware Lane can take it out of you. Book yourself in for some pampering at Orchid Day Spa. A massage, facial or mani-pedi will soon have you ready for another round of good times.