*Technically, they specify that they are not a cat café, but it’s hard to describe the place without calling it that…

This past weekend, Richard and I decided that we just had to get out and do something. Too often when we have a day together, we waste it by relaxing around the flat all day. Now, I say wasted loosely here, as a day spent sleeping in, eating brunch, and watching a movie on the sofa is not a wasted day per se. It’s just that we often look back at months at a time, and feel like we haven’t really done anything.

I always seem to take photos of Richard on trains – he hates it. I’m thinking of starting a series… or a coffee table book. 😉

So we considered our options and settled on visiting the market at Brick Lane! We had both been to Brick Lane on different occasions, but never on the weekend, when their markets were open.

To be honest, I was a bit disappointed. It was kind of small despite how much space there actually was. We’re both more into antiques than handmade stuff, and the market seemed full of screen-printed clothing, or similar items. Not quite what we were looking for.

What they didn’t have in terms of stuff to buy, however, they made up for in stuff to eat! Nowhere near the options at Camden or Borough Markets, but they had momos! After living in Nepal, Richard has quite the affinity for those little Tibetan dumplings… so to say that he was ‘chuffed’ to see that stall would be an understatement. And of course, we had to share a sampling! We tried all the varieties except for vegetarian and enjoyed them all. The spicy dip had quite the kick!

Now, sharing a few dumplings isn’t quite enough for a full meal. There were some other amazing options available in the Brick Lane market, but we had another lunch in mind… salt beef bagels!

I had heard about the bagels here at Beigel Bake, as being the best salt beef in London. I’m a huge fan of spicy mustard and pickles… so these seemed right up my alley! But, if I’m being honest, I think the ones at Borough Market are better (controversial, I know). Maybe it’s the better pickles, but a lot of it is probably due to the fact that Beigel Bake cranks out a bazillion of them each day, and they sort of just slap them together. Seriously, the lines there for bagels are mental. I like a bit more care with my food.

So after our salty lunch, we wanted to find a good place to sit down and have a coffee. And not only did we find great coffee… but cats as well!

that sign suited this sleepy kitty purrfectly…

I’d heard a while back that there were a couple of cat cafes in London, but we hadn’t checked them out yet. Richard and I both love cats (and dogs) and wish we could have one. However, Richard’s job, traveling, and our possibility of moving in the next couple of years have kept us away from the adoption centers. We’re both such suckers that if we ever went, we’d 100% come back with a cat. Or two.

So for a couple of cat-starved crazies, the idea of getting to spend an hour stroking a bunch of furry companions was the ultimate draw! We checked out the website for This Is a Coffee Shop (with cats) and thought that the food/drinks looked good enough to be a draw even without the cats.

As with the Brick Lane market, there was a bit of a letdown in terms of our expectations vs. reality. The coffee shop had undertaken a transformation from a cat café, to a coffee shop (with cats), and one of the biggest changes was that you couldn’t touch the cats unless they came up to you. It makes complete sense, as the cats can get quite stressed from constantly being picked up and stroked by strangers all day.

We knew this going in (as they explicitly mention it on their website), and both support the idea as it’s kinder to the cats. However, we ended up being sat next to a couple of cats who after saying hello, promptly fell asleep ha.

The saving grace of the experience was the food and drinks. I had looked on their website and Instagram before we decided to go and thought that the menu was worth going. My perspective was that the coffee options, food, and atmosphere, would have been enough to draw me in – the cats are just a bonus!

I ended up having their flower latte with hibiscus and rose (yum!) and Richard got out of his comfort zone with the turmeric latte. Both were nice and flavorful and oh-so-pretty! We shared a berry cake (very sweet) and just sat there trying to mentally encourage the various sleeping cats around us to come and say hi. If only they knew how much love and attention we would have provided!

the sole curious cat who came to say hello

I’d be tempted to go back another day, perhaps during a weekday when it’s quieter, and see if I can’t get some cat time. Who knows? But if not, then I’m perfectly content to enjoy another pink latte and read a book… it might not be my favorite color, but it tastes awesome!

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