The Black Cat Cafe is a Hackney classic; one of the original vegan eateries. But in a time when vegan cafes are springing up hither and yon and selling their wares at ever inflated prices, there’s more to this place than meets the eye: an originality and an ethos that merits your attention.
The place itself is straight out of the neighbourhood cafe playbook: the mismatched sofas, sharing tables and with the menu up on a blackboard. From the welcoming staff to the affordable prices (you can get a main course, drink and maybe even dessert here for under a tenner!), it’s a very friendly place to eat and relax.
The menu isn’t large, but has plenty of options whether you’re looking for a light and healthy snack or something heartier on a chilly winter’s eve. Long-standing patrons rave about the salad selection, full of the latest and greatest super foods; beetroots and kale galore. If you’re looking for your fill of protein and carbs, you can’t go wrong with the chickpea curry or the lentil burger with a side of chunky chips.
Then on weekends, there’s the famous vegan fry-up – many claim it to be the finest in London. The sweet-toothed types won’t be disappointed either. Expect plenty of pastries, brownies and cakes waiting for you on the counter.
But beyond the veganism, there’s another side to the Cafe’s social mission. Not content with “just” doing their bit for animals and the environment, this much-loved vegan eatery is also a workers’ co-operative… taking the eg(g) out of egalitarianism if you will (ahem).
This means a fair deal for the staff, and an organisation that abides by an internationally recognised set of ethical and democratic principles. As average rents in Hackney have increased by 20% in the last five years, far outstripping inflation, and in some places this much loved borough feels like it has lost its soul, it is great to see some parts of Hackney remain true to the community ethos that has always made the borough so special.
On the plant-based side of things, there’s a genuine commitment to encouraging healthy lifestyles through its menu and to promote the vegan cause. The Cafe regularly hosts vegan groups and boasts an on-site bookshop selling cookbooks and activist literature at cheaper rates than you’d find elsewhere.
The Black Cat Cafe can be found at 76A Clarence Rd, London E5 8HB.
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