Last week I found a little brochure in a drawer at my in-law’s house in Melbourne, that I’d left behind after our last visit. It was produced by the City of Melbourne and was a 1.5 hour, 2.5 kilometer self guided tour of the laneways and arcades of the central business district (CBD) of Melbourne. Melbourne’s little laneways began life in the 1800’s as rear access to properties facing big streets, but many were later roofed as ‘arcades’ to provide refuge from the weather and crowds. Today many have been reborn and lined with interesting shops and cafes.
We hopped on the train to the city from Clifton Hill, and started our little tour at Federation Square. First up we passed the stunning Flinders Street Station, and headed across the street to our first laneway, Degraves Street where William Degraves’ steam flourmill used to pump away in 1850. This was as far as we got before our first hot chocolate stop of the day at Degraves Espresso.
The laneways are famous for having some of the best espressos you can find almost anywhere, and this is considered one of the must tries. Rich would agree wholeheartedly. He sipped his espresso with eyes closed and a smile on his face. We sat outside under a row of dark umbrellas at a series of old metal tables, apparently recycled cinema seats and benches from a former magistrates court. There was a constant buzz of people talking around us, the place was busy, but you could still hear a street musician somewhere close by playing the guitar.
Of course, I had no interest in espresso at all, so ordered a hot chocolate. It came in a glass on top of a bright, aqua blue saucer, was smooth, chocolately and very easy to drink. Given my low expectations of hot chocolates from Rich’s favourite espresso bars, it was a surprisingly perfect beginning to a great little discovery walk around the laneways of the CBD.
Verdict: The hot chocolate was surprisingly nice and the service was incredibly quick too! Degraves Espresso, Degraves Street, Melbourne, Australia.