This afternoon E and I spent a good 2½ hours roaming the laneways and arcades of Melbourne city on a tour run by the CAE. Wilma Farrow, our most entertaining guide, took us through laneways of redbrick nineteenth century warehouses and early twenthieth century arcades and filled our heads with some wonderful stories. I have posted a photo of my favourite arcade, Royal Arcade with the scary Gog and Magog who fascinated me as a child.
After the tour, we were in desperate need of a seat and some warmth. So we dropped in to Degraves Espresso Bar. It suited our mood of going back in time perfectly. The overall impression when we entered is olde worlde cream walls and dark wood paneling. The air conditioners look ancient and the bar is wooden and looks to have been there for years. Our seats were rows of deep padded leather chairs that seemed to be old cinema seats – the leather had the odd tear and the wooden arm rests were a bit worn but they seemed to be built to last – much like the café. But you can tell they are cool not dowdy because the staff look art school and they play Mazzy Star on the stereo.
Many the time, E and I have passed the bustle of tables in the middle of Degraves St but we have never been into this bar. Today, I was attracted by the cakes in the window which looked like old-fashioned goodness. The cake proved to be as good as it looked. It was called a teacake but I think in Britain it is called a Victoria Sponge. Dense buttery cake with sweet buttery icing and tart berry jam sandwiched beneath the layers.
It was also good to sit in a warm cosy café. I got peppermint tea and was pleased it was loose tea leaves in a silver teapot with a proper tea strainer and a jug of hot water. My mother would approve! And there is nothing like sitting with a hot tea cup in your hand after standing about in cold drafty laneways. A perfect end to an enjoyable afternoon.
Degraves Espresso Bar
23 Degraves St
03 9654 1245