The White House

                                          

The University of New South Wales (UNSW) likes to keep you on your toes (and judging by the number of stairs between upper and lower campus, train you for Everest as well).  At any rate, it certainly keeps you guessing.  Take, for example, the numerous CATS rooms strewn across campus. Dens filled with kittens and other endearing balls of fluff? Afraid not. Instead, you’ll find a Centrally Allocated Teaching Space, complete with desks, chairs, not enough powerpoints and, occasionally, lights that detect movement – just in case you were hoping for a Common Area To Sleep.

And let’s not forget enrolment. There you are, logging into MyUNSW, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, your timetable drawn out neatly in front of you, lunch breaks with friends perfectly co-ordinated … But no, UNSW has other plans. Cue server collapse, frozen screens, and rooms across campus echoing with the sound of a thousand angry fingers jabbing ‘Refresh’ (with a few profanities thrown in). Looks like you’ll  be stuck at uni for five days again next semester. And you’ll be doing subjects you’ve never heard of because your first choices filled up in the first five minutes. Lucky you.

This time, however, the trick is thankfully less unpleasant. The White House, despite its name, is not located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but right here on campus. It’s a trendy new eatery / bar that opened a few weeks before stuvac, just in time to give students another reason to procrastinate. I mean, a kid’s gotta eat, right? And two hours is a perfectly reasonable lunch break now that all my tabs are colour co-ordinated.  At any rate, it’s a breath of fresh air for those who secretly wished that the Roundhouse would close for renovation, or … you know, just close generally. I think that place has seen a few too many Octoberfests to stand upright.

So.. the White House. Once you get over the name, and realise your friend is not inviting you overseas for lunch, head up to the Quad store and look to the far side of the Quadrangle, where you’ll see a stone archway dripping in vines. Head through the archway and keep going straight until you see a large tree drooping its head over a white building with outdoor seating. That’s your baby.

With its clean white exterior and Tiffany-blue shutters, the building bears some resemblance to the house Noah built in The Notebook, although obviously not as nice. And not dedicated to Rachel McAdams. But it does have two storeys, which you’ll discover if you can maneouvre your plate of food up the narrow staircase without knocking anyone over.

Outdoor seating.
House from The Notebook

Staircase to the first floor.

Yep, definitely narrow.

Seeing the furniture on the first floor, you’d be forgiven for thinking you had entered the Oval Office. Or a gentleman’s lounge. It’s all smoke and mirrors, dim lights, plush armchairs and Chesterfield lounges still beaming from their first polish. Yet the dark wooden paneling and board games strewn across tables also gives the room a very cabin-like feel. Anyway, you decide.

For those with post-exam anxieties, the bar is your new best friend. We all know the feeling, emerging from an exam room, hand aching, brain hurting, a constellation of worries turning inside your head – the answers you skipped, the questions you missed, the bullet points you scrawled across the page at the eleventh hour. You desperately need a drink to drown your sorrows in. And what better way to do that, than by ordering a massive bowl of pink happiness from the counter. The punch bowls are sweet and syrupy, but with just enough of the toxic stuff to transport you to a land of pure ignorance. The jam jars are a cute and homey touch.

The bar.

The punch.

For students on a budget, the White House’s menu is pretty appealing. Nothing over $10, and the pizzas are excellent value (large portions). But for those of you watching your waists, there’s not much by way of healthy eating, unless you fancy a Caesar / Greek / Garden salad. The rest of the menu is fairly heavy in artery-clogging food (pizzas, fries and wedges). Thank goodness for UniGym.

Loving the wooden boards.



Felafel wrap with chips.



Like I said, large portions!

And the coffee is good. Campos coffee, no less.

So for those of you who desperately need a study break, or a coffee, or just a place to hide from the rain, the White House is your port of call. It may not have its own bowling alley, but it’s a great way to end your uni days among the trees.

Happy stuvac.
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