Recently I stopped by a quaint little coffee shop in downtown Ottawa called the Arlington Five.
It is a lovely tiny house that is far bigger on the inside. All the baristas are notably friendly here and mill about in good spirits. The floor is tiled, the overall aesthetic is a whimsical woodiness you would expect from a café, and the walls are adorned with an interesting plethora of magical and medieval art pieces featuring faraway landscapes and mythical creatures in watercolors. The place is replete with plants, which add a nice homey-ness along with the welcoming summer breeze spilling in from the open patio doors.
When it comes to ordering anything, I am, like many others, a creature of habit.
But, there is something about this place that draws out my innate curiosity and encourages me to try something new. Deviating from my default caramel latte that I tend to order literally anywhere I go is a challenge in itself, so I initially wanted to cling onto something at least vaguely familiar and get a mocha. Chocolate and coffee – what could go wrong? But, when it came my turn to order, “a flat white” tumbled out of my mouth. I surprised myself and knew that either this would be amazing or an instant regret.
I am so glad I got one.
For some coffee context, a flat white has no frothed milk or milk foam. It is just a double espresso – two shots – and steamed milk. I am still learning the nuanced differences between latte, macchiato, latte macchiato, cappuccino, etc., but a flat white stands out from these masses in terms of its milk quality.
My drink was no exception.
It was beautiful. It had an artfully-crafted milk design (barista latte art knocked it out of the park). Tiny milk beads rested atop, small in size yet mighty in quantity, aesthetically complimenting the overall look.
The beverage was smaller than what I typically prefer, but it was sweet and quaint, and it actually turned out to be the perfect size despite not being a full cup. It fit the palm of my hand as closely as a glove. The glass was preheated, as they say you should do with your cups before drinking espresso out of them.
The coffee had a thick, smooth, and creamy quality to it. My prevailing thought was that it tasted overwhelmingly just like “coffee-flavored milk,” or as my mom likes to say, just like “Japanese milk tea.” Since the taste was not too strong, it reminded me of the French Press coffees my partner often makes.
This drink was given to me warm, not too hot, which ended up being the perfect sipping temperature.
I felt really inspired to work on my creative writing in this place. Plus, I also got to overhear some juicy gossip from some friendly customers that sat across from us. Not that I was listening or anything…
My verdict: 10/10.
I definitely plan to come here again, both for the drinks and for the atmosphere itself.
But, I was so busy detailing the coffee here that I have not even mentioned yet the gluten-free/vegan brownie cookie my partner and I shared. It had a nice crunch to it. I would not give it a 10/10 rating like the drink, but it was a welcome option to go along with it, especially since most places do not have many, if any, gluten-free and/or vegan dessert delicacies. Maybe I will end up trying that mocha next time, but who knows what I will involuntary order from my subconscious on the following visit…