Sunday 3 June 2007

Degraves Espresso Bar – Built to Last

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


  1. Your blog is very interesting!
    Please, send me the photo of your pc desk.
    I'll publish on my blog!.


  2. I'd heard that Melbourne is a fantastic place to eat out. Your posts are confirming this!
    Just in case I ever make it across - where would be your ultimate recommendation?

  3. I fall in love with laneways! They are artistic and beautiful. And the great food & coffee is a real bonus!

  4. thanks for the invitation canary - will do my best to get a photo - although I don't really have a desk - joys and frustrations of a laptop and a small home!

    Wendy, you heard right! Melbourne is a veritable foodie paradise! I do not have an ultimate recomendation - I have different places for different days, different times, different people, different diets. But some places I love are Shaka Hari (carlton), Vina Bar (carlton), Moroccan Soup Bar (N Fitzroy)... oh this is too hard - there are so many good places. I asked E and he said if you were scottish you would probably like Gopals which is great budget vegetarian food - maybe this will be the subject of a future blog when I have more space!

    Hi Anh - aren't laneways great - full of mystery and surprise and wonderful foodie places (I wish I could appreciate the coffee too but I don't like it).

  5. Jo glad to see you are treating tea correctly. It all makes me very nostalgic for home

  6. You can't beat a piece of cake and a wee cup of tea! Especially when someone else is making it :)

  7. thanks mum - make the most of Dublin's delights - but we will look forward to seeing you home soon :-)

    Scottish Vegan - yes tea and cake is so welcome when it is cold outside

  8. Looks like a great place to caffeinate.

  9. thanks urban vegan - I don't drink coffee - I wish I did but i can only enjoy the smell of good coffee - but E said the coffee was very good!

  10. Johanna, I do stuff from time to time on The Trad Pad at on the lanes of Melbourne. Love 'em - but Degraves Street and its neighbour, City Place, are my favouritest. But that CAE tour sounds great. Please let me know how I can get on to it.

    Blessings and bliss

  11. hi miss eagle - the laneways and arcades tour is organised through the CAE - College of Adult Education - (at a cost), I have put a link to the CAE on the post so you can find their website easily - and you will find walking tours under lifestyles - E and I plan to do more walking tours as we enjoyed this one.


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