Finally, I got to visit another of those out-of-the-way cafes that I’d heard about and scribbled onto the mental notebook somewhere in my mind.
When I googled “Wheeler’s Yard”, the pictures I saw of the place reminded me of a warehouse, an aircraft hangar, but nothing like a cafe. Literally from the outside you can’t tell that there is a cafe inside, perhaps much like the kind of vibes Chye Seng Huat Hardware Store gives people. These cafes and their industrial chic decor is no longer unique but I think they still cut a fairly interesting visit that is different from what we are used to seeing nestled in the many shopping malls along Orchard Road.
Wheeler’s Yard is located at Jalan Ampas, in the vicinity of Balestier and Whampoa, and I think without wheels, it might be a little challenging to get here. Not impossible but requires a fair bit of effort.Being located in such places away from town perhaps gives them the advantage of space, for I can’t imagine how much they’d have to pay in terms of rental if this was the real estate they were occupying, especially with how space-inefficient they were in arranging the seats, meaning you can be seated comfortably away from other patrons, not the elbow-to-elbow kind of proximity that we often have to put up with at Starbucks, or even Tiong Bahru Bakery (either outlets). Sometimes we really don’t need to hear what gossip the next table is trading.
There was another thing that struck me when I was researching on this place, because a lot of people complained about how slow the service was, and maybe with a hint of rudeness along with it. But I think they probably visited during busy times because when I popped by, it wasn’t that bad. We could get a seat easily, and a comfortable spacious one at that, and since we didn’t order food that requires cooking, we didn’t have to endure the long wait; apparently someone left a comment on their Facebook page that they had to wait 2.5 hours!? That’s just crazy. I don’t think I even waited that long at the-then Tin Ho Wan dim sum eatery in Yau Ma Tei in Hong Kong.
The name Wheeler’s Yard was born out of the origins of the place I guess, this I didn’t really research but it was based on hearsay, or whatever I remembered from conversations. Nevertheless, you see a lot of bicycle-related stuff there so it isn’t hard to guess as well. The entire place sends you back a couple of decades, with nostalgic elements scattered around the cafe, like the mismatched furniture, some other ornaments as well as some old school biscuits like those round ones with coloured icing sugar on top. I don’t know why our coffee didn’t come with any of those, or if you needed to pay for them, but I was actually hoping I’d get a couple next to my drink. Oh well. Maybe I’d just get myself a pack from the marketplace near my office one of these days.
Latte and cappuccino. Again, I decided to opt for a milk-based coffee instead of just a long black because I suspected that its taste wouldn’t sit well with me. Since I thought I’d be there for a while, such a choice makes better sense as well in keeping warm for a slightly longer time, and I get to take pictures showing-off latte art. Haha. The coffee reminds me of those cafes I visited in Hong Kong like Fuel and the Cupping Room. I think here in Singapore, places like TBB and Forty Hands (they serve the same coffee), etc., also provide a similar experience but then in Singapore I don’t go to these places on a regular basis. Starbucks and Spinelli are my usual go-to places and their lattes are not really what you’d usually find me ordering.
The obligatory top-down shot of the coffee and the indulgence. It’s some chocolate granola bar or something, the chocolate tasted great as it was not the overly-sweet type neither was it so dark and bitter. The only problem with it was that it’s very crumbly or maybe it wasn’t meant to be eaten with a fork; as I drove the prongs of the fork into it, it just started crumbling and falling apart that I had to scoop the bits up to eat them. Otherwise, it’s quite a nice dessert that we didn’t have to wait too long for since no cooking was involved!
But the coffees did take quite a considerable amount of time, when there weren’t that many customers waiting for their orders to be filled. At least you get to sit and wait, until the beeper device went off which is the cue to head to the counter to collect your drinks.