As someone who thinks a cooperative vegan café in Hackney sounds rather amusing, I’ll be the first to tout the Black Cat Café for being unpretentious, tasty and fairly priced.
The café is the reincarnation of the long-standing but now defunct Pogo Café, with new decor and similar food. You order from a daily-changing chalkboard menu and sit at communal tables.
Herbivores will enjoy the fry-ups at weekends and pies, salads and soups during the week. The 25 teas include a panoply of rooibos and blacks, and the cappuccino with Bonsoy ‘milk’ is a winner. Kale is a regular.
It’s the kind of vegan food that’s heavy on animal substitutes: soy and similar takes on ‘cheese’, ‘sausage’ and ‘egg’. The Monte Cristo sandwich is comforting without leaving you laden – and worth amplifying with Sriracha or tomato ketchup. The fry-up with beans, potatoes, pancake, tofu scramble, mushroom and sausage (get the Vegusto for an extra £1) is more gentle than hearty, leaving room for a gingery parkin that’s just sweet enough.
Roughly £10 gets you a drink, main and dessert, in the company of anarchist literature and animal-free pet food. More than one book on display has the anarchist Emma Goldman on its cover, local photography fills the white walls and the front is all red-trimmed windows. WiFi is free, and for active vegans and friends, the Hackney Veg*n Society meet here monthly.
The café feels bright and calm, as you’d hope from a plant-loving cooperative. When full, it’s a buzzing (but not overwhelming) place to be, and when not it’s a chilled space from which to watch the world go by.
Black Cat Café, 76 Clarence Road, E5 8HB