I've been finding myself with an abundance of non-working week days lately, which is perfectly fine but forces me to create routine on my own. One day of doing absolutely nothing besides slothing in bed is fine, but 2-3 in a row and I start to feel my mind and body melting away. Besides undertaking hobbies like drawing, exercise and food blogging, I've started a side project of trying to get to know my neighbourhood better.
West End Coffee House has been around for as long as I remember West End, which is most of my teen to adult life. It's surprising then that it's taken me this long to finally get to try it. I think the main reason for this is my fear of parking. Parking around that central section of West End seems to either be non-existent or challengingly parallel on busy stretches of road. I can parallel park just fine when it's near my building and there's no one watching but queue up 3+ impatient cars behind me and it's a panel scratch waiting to happen.
I got around this fact by trying West End Coffee House at obscure times during the day when normal people don't eat. One visit happened very early in the morning. Most cafes were still closed at this point and I liked that West End Coffee House catered for earlier risers. My second visit was at weekday brunch time (around 11am) and because no one really eats brunch on a weekday, I managed to score an awesome spot nearby.
West End Coffee House has a wonderfully inviting and open set up. There are individual tables near the front entrance as well as on the street. Inside the cafe, there are a few long benches which you can perch at on your own and not feel like a loner. Patrons set up with newspapers, novels and laptops enhance the notion that this is the kind of cafe you can chill at for a long time without being hustled out.
On my first visit, I ordered a soy latte and avocado on toast with and a side of haloumi. The latte was very good but a bit small for my liking. I'm sure my caffeine habit is unhealthy but I need a certain amount of coffee to satisfy and this cup I finished too quickly.
Avocado on sourdough toast with chili tomato jam and extra side of haloumi
Fried rice - with marinated pulled pork, wok-fried egg and prik nam pla
My second visit happened just before noon on another weekday. The breakfast menu was still active but I wanted something hearty to serve as lunch too so I ordered the pulled pork fried rice. I actually chose this more out of curiosity than anything else because the idea of getting fried rice at a cafe amused me. It turned out to be a great pick. The bowl was humongous and filled right to the top. The fried rice itself was cooked well, seasoned well and filled generously with soft pulled pork. It was topped with fresh coriander and a fried egg. What transformed the rice from "good" to "amazing" was the accompanying prik nam pla, which is a traditional Thai dressing. It tasted spicy, vinegary, pungent and very garlicky and served to lift each element of the fried rice and made it ever so moreish. However, because it was such a big serve, try as I may I couldn't finish it all.
I enjoyed my visits to West End Coffee House. I'll assume the over-salted haloumi was just an unfortunate once-off occurrence rather than an indication of overall quality. The coffee and fried rice was great. Best of all, I love the atmosphere. Chilled cafes where you can hang out and read and street watch are my favourite. Give me that over a crowded, rushed and overhyped fad cafe any day.