Revamped with a bright mural in Summer 2015 after some knucklehead sprayed Free the Cats, Free the $ across its shutters, whatever that was supposed to mean... Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium is a hugely popular independent café and something of an East London institution.
Located on Bethnal Green Road right on the edge of Shoreditch, the Emporium was able to open in 2014 thanks to a massive crowdfunding response from local residents and offers a truly unique dining experience.
Booking ahead is advisable as it is incredibly popular, although apparently there is a walk-in service available as well.
I booked for my girlfriend's birthday treat and would definitely recommend this quirky little café to any lovers of animals and/or quaint English tearooms; for us it ticked both boxes!
The decor is very cute, and the ambiance is warm and restful; every inch is covered in cat paraphernalia and the walls are covered with cat pictures and knick-knacks. For me it was like being at my Nan's house, albeit a more tasteful and less cluttered version! The cats pottered about indifferently or simply snoozed away on specially made fuzzy sleeping shelves, doing what cats do best. One decided to run like a maniac for a time on a large custom-made hamster wheel (cat wheel) which was certainly different! The atmosphere was so calm and relaxing that time seemed to slip past at a different pace to usual; an hour flew by without us even noticing.
The food was really good too. I was delighted to see that bagels were on the menu; harking back to the area's Jewish roots. We both demolished sloppy, relish smothered cheese and meatball bagels, which were served with a sprig of salad and a side of crisps, and followed by a traditional cream tea, properly served with loose leaves in the pot. They also sorted my girlfriend out with a birthday pack, available from the website, containing a tote bag, card signed by the cats and a sugary little cupcake with a candle.
The staff were friendly and well trained; one girl tried hard to energise the cats with treats and toys. Do bear in mind that cats will be cats... in other words don't expect them to put on a show for you, they aren't natural entertainers! Don't let this put you off however, they were certainly adorable and were clearly well loved and looked after by everyone involved with their wellfare. I really can't recommend this original little café enough; get yourselves along and soak up the satisfaction of some serious feline down-time! Cats, bagels and scones; what's not to love!