Uptown Waterloo has a fair number of quaint and exquisite coffeehouses, many of which do not advertise their stores; they simply believe in their services, food, and loyal customers’ word of mouth. So here I write, as a new loyal customer.
TLDR: Exquisite, yet bold and complicated. The ambiance of the cafe sparked my desire to revisit with a book, a pen and a notebook. With a cup of loose leaf tea (and maybe dessert), it’s the right place to relax, chat and get inspired.
Location: 84 King St N Waterloo, ON N2J 2X4 (corner of Bridgeport and King, across Fox and Fiddle Irish Pub)
Click here for their official website and hours.
The moment I stepped into the cafe, I was mesmerized by its interior. The coffeehouse reminded me of a rustic yet modern British cafe in the movies. The old brick walls had lost some of its original colour but maintained its picturesque look. I can tell the owner wanted to construct an atmosphere that was casual enough for everyday conversations without losing the potential to become a semi-formal place for business. And that was exactly what the coffeehouse is: a blend of sophisticated students and professionals.
DVLB is different than your ordinary coffeehouses. Why? Well, it serves whisky. Single-malt whisky, “the true pinnacle of all whisky goodness.”
Didn’t expect that, did ya?
To top it off, DVLB offers a whisky map for your tasting journey. For those interested, they carry a wide selection from light to rich, delicate to smoky, from around Scotland, Japan, Canada, Australia, India and more. Sadly, I’ve yet to become a whisky drinker, but if you’ve ventured and tried their whiskies, let me know how they turned out!
One random and weird rule I follow when trying new cafes is only order the coffee when the tea is not just tea. That is, the tea brings deep thoughts into your consciousness, or a blissful smile on your face.
Chai tea is like the standard for reviewing a coffeehouse. It’s the most basic spiced tea that every cafe carries. My eyes widened when I first took a sip of the tea; it wasn’t sweet at all! Instead, the foamy milk brought out the fragrance of the spices without the sweetness getting in the way. As a frequent customer of chain cafes like Williams, Second Cup and Starbucks, the fact that the tea was unsweetened certainly left quite an impression. Of course, DVLB provides you with sugars and other additions, but they weren’t necessary.
The tea reminded me of the Doctor. “Good cup of tea! Super-heated infusion of free-radicals and tannin, just the thing for healing the synapses…” Very British.
DVLB offers copious snacks, from croissants to lemon squares, carrot cakes to brownies. Mmm, who doesn’t like brownies? Their brownie is more of a fudge brownie than your regular soft kind. Dense, thick and delicious, it overflowed with sweetness. The tea and the brownie had a nice marriage with my tastebuds, balancing each other out with every bite and sip.
Ah, it was a good afternoon to wait out the rain.
Trying out a new cafe is quite overwhelming sometimes, especially when its menu includes the unexpected note of alcohol. I remembered staring blankly at the tiny writing on their chalkboard menu, wondering if it was worth the effort to walk back to my seat and put on my glasses. That would have given me a few more seconds to make up my mind and look less like an indecisive newbie. But in the end my tongue acted quicker than my wits so I simply asked what the barista recommended. She replied to me matter-of-factly on their specialties (casually ignoring the whisky section), emphasizing their variety in coffee. I knew I had to come back to try more.
A note on the service:
As a first-time customer, I did not know whether the orders will be brought to me (like Williams), or left at the counters when ready (like Starbucks). Since the cashier did not hand me a sign, I figured I need to pay attention to hearing the name of my drink. After quite a few minutes, I heard a faint calling. My drink wasn’t on the counter closer to my seat; it was on the counter near the other end of the cafe. Since they had two counters on each end, I found it slightly inconvenient to carry a hot drink from one side of the coffeehouse to the other. But if you were to order take out, that wouldn’t be a problem. It was just me being lazy 😛
According to my friend (the awesome one that introduced me to DVLB), the section of the coffeehouse closer to the entrance is usually more quiet, good for those that prefer solitude and/or want to get some work done. The back of the cafe was filled with men with beer or whisky chatting about work. If you bring along a friend you want to talk to and prefer to hear your own conversations instead of others, I suggest the front area of the cafe 🙂
Next visit would be for the coffee. Like the website stated, “espresso’s not an art, it’s a craft”. DVLB does not have mass-scale production and super-automatics; they prefer the handcraft goodness.
Though selfishly I want to keep this place all to myself, the ambiance and the tea of DVLB is too good to stay hidden for long.
You just got to meet the Jackalope.