Many moons ago, I came across the crowdfunding video for Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium. I'd heard about the numerous neko cafés in Japan (not the ones where girls dress up like cats in Akihabara - cafes with actual cats!) but never thought they'd come to London.
Of course, when crowdfunding concept became reality, I had to go.
I booked A and I in within the first few days of the site going live, almost spazzing out with excitement. I wasn't at the level where I was crying because I wanted to pet all the cats, but I was pretty darn close.
Lady Dinah's is a short walk from Shoreditch High St and Brick Lane. We arrived a little bit early for our slot, so we milled around Brick Lane eyeing up the street art and vintage shops in the sunshine.
When we entered the café, we were ushered to the back to wash our hands and to hear the golden rules for Cat Café visitors. No petting cats while they're resting, no picking them up, no letting them eat your food!
The design of the place is very cool. It's the cats' home and is essentially a cat paradise. There's little steps built into the walls for them to pad around, a cat palace with lots of little hidey holes, a hammock, and lots of comfy sofas to laze about on. If I were a cat, I'd want to live there for sure!
Sadly, I've never owned a cat so my only experience with them is petting them at my friends' houses or in the street. These ones were quite different to the 'house cats' I've come into contact with. Some reluctantly allowed us to pet them, but others were very slippery and aloof.
I assume that the cats are very used to humans because of the volume of customers that go in and out of the café every day (and therefore aren't interested in us at all!) We didn't mind, though, as they were super cute to look at, and I didn't want to disturb them too much. They just made me want my own cat! Also, I'd been distracted from the lack of cuddling by the tempting tea menus...
We ordered a pot of English Breakfast to share and a big slice of red velvet. I wasn't expecting much as I thought the focus in the café would be on the cats rather than the food and drink, but was pleasantly surprised. In the past when I've tried red velvet it's been quite synthetic or dry, and not tasting very chocolatey, but Lady Dinah's red velvet was layered with delicious cream cheese frosting and was very moist and chocolatey. Plus, it came with fresh strawberries, which turned out to be an ideal combo. Yum!
After tea, the cats decided it was naptime.
I was feeling a bit sleepy myself (and in need of food) so A and I headed down to Brick Lane to grab some lunch from the famous Beigel Bake.
A ordered the hot salt beef and I ordered a smoked salmon and cream cheese.
Beigel Bake's bagels are legendary, but I wasn't too enamoured with mine. I thought it was fairly dry and could have done with a bit more filling to make it more tasty. Then again, that was probably my fault for not ordering the salt beef. I had a bite of A's and it was hot, mustardy, salty...in a word, delicious.
The boy clearly thought so too.
Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium is located on Bethnal Green Road in Shoreditch.
You can prebook through their website, though apparently they're fully booked until June!