Saturday, February 21, 2015

Cafés don't get more hipster than this - Whale & Cloud @ 48 3/4 Niven Road

Chinese New Year Day 3: The boy decided that we needed some excitement in our lives and brought us to this hidden find.

Hello, pretty cafe.

How to get to this hole-in-the-wall:

Official address: 48 Niven Road

But any legit hipster/secret cafe knows not to be so easily found. Stick with the official address and you'll probably never find Whale & Cloud. 

Majority of the sites I found online advised visitors/seekers to skip Niven Road and go by the main road till Rex Cinema. We decided to go by Niven Road instead - because no respectable hipster can say no to walking down a row of lovely shophouses.

Hello, shophouses! 

A stroll down Niven Road will take you past lots of weird/hipster/rustic shopfronts.

Like this photography studio, with a third of a car out front.

And lovely door frames. A whole row of lovely door frames.

Of course, who can forget Peranakan tiles?

The back (or front, depending on how you look at it) of Whale & Cloud. This is the official 48 Niven Road, which may or may not be their office front. I don't know because I didn't ask. You won't be able to go through here!

Turn right at the end of Niven Road when you see Rex Cinema. A few steps more and this will be the back alley that greets you on your right. 

More gorgeous shop/house fronts...

Head in the general direction of people randomly standing around. 

We got there slightly before 12pm (the cafe was opening from 12-5pm that day) and there were already 2 girls standing outside the door. A lady joined us shortly after.

 If you're greeted by a Closed sign outside the door, you're either too early or you forgot to check the cafe's instagram and came on the wrong day.

One half of the cafe's owners peeped
out of the door shortly after we had arrived and stepped out to change the sign. Closed sign opens up to reveal "Open" and becomes a sitting plank for waiting customers. Clever!         

The sight that greeted us when magical blue door of the cafe was opened: lots of Kubrick bears, an island carrying baked goods, vintage blue shutters and a row of 5 blue-purple cinema seats set against a rustic brick wall. Also, many other small details.

Cosy nook where the other half of the cafe's owners resides. There she makes coffee for visitors/seekers who succeed in finding the place (to be honest, if we can find it, you probably can).

Chocolate and coffee cream eclairs. Yum.

Waiting for our coffees, and snapping away with our cameras.

Also, SMEG fridge. Hello, gorgeous!

Shoefie next to the lovely, yellow SMEG fridge. Just because.

While waiting for our coffees and cherry tart (which was fresh out of the oven and needed some time to cool before cutting), I spotted this tiny detail in a hole in the brick wall. Toy break dancer. Super cute.

Coffees of the day were black, white and cold brew. He got the white, which comes in a simple white takeaway cup carrying the cafe's logo.

I got the cold brew,
the fancier iced drink that comes in a clear plastic cup and a small medicine bottle.

The cafe also runs a little retail corner where they sell figurines, notebooks, teas and knick-knacks.

Best thing about this hole-in-the-wall cafe? The door is always locked and customers are only allowed in when there's room. If you see the Open sign out front, knock (gently) and try your luck. If you come after their opening hour, chances are, you'll have to wait outside until there are seats within. 

Great for the people inside (yay for crowd control!), not so great for those outside in Singapore weather.

Cherry tart ($5), very yummy. 
Their baked goods are currently priced at $5 a piece, and coffees are no longer pay-as-you-wish. Regular coffees go for $6 and the cold brew, the fancy one with the small medicine bottle that you can take with you, $8.

Whale & Cloud isn't big, and can only house 11 people at any one time. 
Or at least I think it's 11, because there were only 11 seats in the cafe. The owner/bouncer doesn't let any group in unless there are seats for everyone in the group, so be prepared to wait (unless you're willing to ditch some in your group so you can go in first; bad friend!).

Moral of story: Have a group of more than 3? Don't come here.

The great thing about people who visit the cafe (or at least the people I saw that day) - they leave immediately after they're done with their coffee. This concept works best for take-aways, so you could always come, order and wait outside for your coffee. 

But really, what's the point of doing that when the selling point of Whale & Cloud is the interior?

We spent 45 minutes or so in the cafe, got our caffeine/hipster fix and left. There were 4 groups of people waiting outside for seats when we got out. 

Moral of story: If you're headed to Whale & Cloud, don't stay long. 
The cafe is open once a week (possibly less) and there are too many hipsters in Singapore waiting for their chance to instagram away in this beautifully-designed cafe. This concept isn't targeted at those who want to while away their afternoons.
Be kind to other visitors/seekers. Buy your coffee/cake, take all the pictures/selfies you need in the cafe, and leave.

I can now add a small medicine bottle to my collection!

Yes, "Keep the faith". Whale & Cloud really isn't all that difficult to locate. 
The only difficult part is getting seats immediately.

Whale & Cloud
48 3/4 Niven Road
Opening hours: Check the cafe's instagram for updates
Accepts Cash only.
Phone: Don't even try.

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