A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Published June 4th 2014
When you read a review of a place that says, "Grab the bacon egg sandwich plus coffee... It's great value!" you build up a picture of the place in your mind. That rap does not scream sophistication or fine dining - it suggests a good value cafeteria. And so, having read that, I'd have to say that my expectations of Basement Espresso were not high.
Tucked down the stairs at 182 Victoria Parade, East Melbourne, you could almost walk past Basement Espresso without knowing it was there. However, there are tables and umbrellas out on the street that signal there is a cafe below. Walk down some not-particularly-inviting stairs, and there you are, in Basement Espresso.
The stairs to the entrance of Basement Espresso - not particularly inviting
Downstairs, there's a surprise waiting. Despite being largely subterranean, Basement Espresso is not at all dark and dingy. In fact it's light and open. It has a good feel and energy. Admittedly, it was a bright, sunny day when I visited, and there was a lot of light streaming in through the (limited) windows. But it looks like a lot of thought was put into the lighting to ensure the space is well lit.
It's also quite a large space, so there is plenty of room between tables, it's easy to move around, and it was quiet. Only a few tables had people sitting at them; it seemed there was more takeaway than eat-in trade.
A big, roomy cafe
Food wise, Basement Espresso does have a 'cafeteria' feel. The menu selection includes burgers, pasta, sandwiches, and a soup of the day (in this case, minestrone). I opted for a tandoori chicken roti wrap ($9.50), along with a large coffee ($4.20). I was happy with both of these.
Tandoori chicken roti wrap
Located not too far from the Eye and Ear Hospital, and the Epworth Eastern Hospital (Victoria Parade), it's worth keeping Basement Espresso in mind for a quick, reasonably priced bite to eat, in a pleasant, unpretentious setting.
Main counter area
Basement Espresso is open from 6.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday.