It will come as no revelation that I am fanatical about cats. If I see one on the street I’ll approach it and try to pet it even if it looks like the feline version of an escaped convict. They’re just so damn cute and fluffy. So it was with great fanfare that my reservation at Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium, London’s first cat cafe, arrived three months after the initial booking. Most likely due to health and safety laws, they don’t cook on the premises – all of the food is understandably pre-made. Domestic pets and food preparation should only mix in Pixar films, and I’m no food critic, but I recoiled a bit when the French chef/rat was chopping up vegetables for his Ratatouille dish.
Obviously people aren’t booking months in advance to come here just to eat cake and sandwiches. The stars of the show are the 11 or so roaming cats. If I just wanted a hot meal I’d be down at Five Guys scarfing chips and sitting on top of a tower of unshelled peanuts. Look at that tortoiseshell lolling about on her hammock all casual-like while my blood pressure starts to soar – all this and we haven’t even sat down yet. I have to mention that the temperature in there was turned WAY UP. To the point where I started to feel hot and bothered. The upstairs is definitely superior in both decor and atmosphere but we crept downstairs because that’s where the cats were at. HASHTAG YOLO.
Seeing as it was 9pm on a Monday night and we were feeling peckish without dinner, we ordered the Ploughman’s, an impressive tower of Brie, Red Leicester, Goat’s cheese and a smoked cheese served on a tiered plate with chutney, pork pie and a selection of fruit and bread. Generously portioned and actually quite a delightful snack, we nibbled on it throughout our two-hour time slot, occasionally pausing to go mad when a cat would casually saunter out. The cat cafe is two stories and we were sat in the basement level with a pack of teenagers. I’m not ashamed to admit that I behaved like I had never seen a cat before in my life. I must point out that the teenagers were even worse.
We also ordered a slice of the quiche of the day with a side salad and a balsamic glaze dressing. This was served cold and was adequate for what it was. Again, I’m sure no one comes here for the actual food. The cake selection looked amazing – unfortunately this visit clashed with a pious sugar detox so I was unable to partake. This is an error – if you come here go straight for their sweets and pastry selection which I’m told are delicious! I took some surreptitious snaps of the menu as I couldn’t find anything on their website – just in case anyone was curious. However, if you’re going to turn up and say stuff like “I’m a foodie, I can’t eat this”, then you’re best to go some place else.
After more photos and an overzealous attempt to lure the grey tabby onto my lap (I’m so creepy), we went to pay at the front desk area, which looks like your crazy Aunt Diane’s holding cell. It’s full of cat paraphernalia which I had to control myself around. I bought a cute psychedelic print Cat Oyster card holder, Lady Dinah tote bag (OBVIOUSLY) and a David Meowie card. I deliberated over the cat cushion cover my friend bought (jealous) and with a crazed look in my eye asked the staff when the Cat Meme Magnet set was going to be in stock again. At the moment, the website isn’t even taking any bookings as it is fully booked until October. If you’re a cat crazed lunatic like me, it’s totally worth it , if anything for the slightly surreal experience, so check their Twitter feed as they regularly tweet about cancellations.
Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium
152-154 Bethnal Green Road
London E2 6DG