Friday, 2 March 2012


The new year has brought about some new routines for Dan and I. Mostly notably, we're exercising after work almost every day, which involves a combination of netball, footy training and time spent at the gym. As our gym happens to be in the middle of the CBD, we figure we've got the perfect excuse reason to explore nearby restaurants. Often still in our sweaty gym gear and feeling buggered, we don't tend to venture any where too classy though.

Recently, we headed down to Degraves Street knowing there would a plethora of options. When we arrived the street was bustling, so we sat where we could find the first free table outside - at Xpressomondo.

If you've never been to Degraves before then it might be hard to imagine. It is a laneway in Melbourne's CBD that runs from Flinders Lane to Flinders St. A row of tables run along the middle of the strip and cafes/restaurants make up the bulk of the shop fronts around it.

The lighting at night wasn't great and the Xpressomondo sign gave everything a red hue (especially in our photos). But the dark, moody ambience helped add to the somewhat bohemian atmosphere. I was immediately wishing that I had some type of freelance job where I could regularly indulge in late night dinners down laneways and leisurely work from cafes during the day.

We scanned the menus and having made my own bolognaise two nights earlier (thanks to the many tomatoes my Grandpa gave me), I wasn't sure that more Italian cuisine was the best idea. But my energy depleted body was saying "Yes! Have some more pasta". So I chose the chicken pesto carbonara and a glass of Heathcote Shiraz (one glass a day is meant to be good you for, yeh?) and Dan ordered the burger - both dishes were on the Specials board.

It felt like it took an eternity for our meals to arrive. And our hunger grew so much that Dan decided to order an extra side of chips. In reality we probably only waited 15-20 minutes, but hunger can distort perceptions. Once the food did arrive, however, we realised that it would definitely satisfy our hunger. No extra chips needed.

My pasta was cooked slightly beyond the texture I would like, but the chicken pieces were meaty and flavoursome. The pesto sauce was full of pine nutty goodness - yum. It satisfied my post-workout cravings and I certainly wasn't hungry any more. (Though the more health conscious part of my brain was telling me I should have ordered the chicken salad instead.)

The burger was an impressive sight - burger, chips and salad all laid out on a wooden board. A feast! I managed to sneak a few chips, which were crispy on the outside and soft in the middle, like chips should be. Dan said the burger was delicious, the chips fantastic and the salad... dissapointing. As a man who likes his condiments (a lot), the exurberant amount of dressing was a little excessive, even for him.

The strip of restaurants on Degraves create an extremely social setting and a wonderful ambiance. If you ever need to grab a coffee or meal, especially if you are on your own, I strongly recommend heading there. Xpressomondo sated our hunger and the waiter was extremely friendly, but I would be interested in trying some of the other Degraves restaurants in the future. Luckily, I know we'll back at the gym soon.

- Dani

Name: Xpressomondo
Cuisine: Italian
Price: $$
Location: 33 Degraves St, Melbourne VIC 3000

Xpressomondo on Urbanspoon

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