In all honestly, I went to Kitty Cafe at Grand Central to meet an asbo cat, not because I expected an early contender for this year’s best lunch.
Let me explain. Despite being a cat lover, this cafe hadn’t really interested me very much until I’d heard several reports of a rogue pussy providing some expertly pass agg entertainment. Rumour has it, one moggy would rather come over to push your food on the floor and wind you up than have a cuddle – behaviour I recognise in myself to some extent. He sounded like a bit of a bastard, and quite frankly I wanted to meet him. Maybe even shake his evil little paw.
In an attempt to meet what I was sure would be my new best friend and hero, a pal and I each paid £6 on the door to be let into what I assumed would be Disneyland for cats. It looked more like a fluffier version of a McDonald’s soft play area circa 1993 and didn’t smell much different. We were seated on the side next to the kitchen hatch by a very enthusiastic host – everyone I met was incredibly nice to be fair – and it didn’t take long to be submerged in cat. At one point I had enough sniffing around me that I got a PTSD flashback from seeing Dame Judy Dench in a hairy catsuit over new year. They all seemed rather friendly (much to my disappointment) so I ordered some food in the hopes of enticing the evil genius I’d heard so much about.
“I’ll have the Speedy Gonzalez quesadilla, please. Also, can you point out which of the cats has the asbo?” I asked the poor girl now wishing she’d not come to work that day.
“I’ve heard one of these is a bit naughty.. a bit anti-social..” I continued with definitely too much enthusiasm.
“They all have different personalities and traits like humans,” she said smiling. “If one wants to find you, it will.”
Sounds a lot like past night’s in Snobs avoiding ex boyfriends, that.
Waiting for the food to arrive I enjoyed a fuss with a few fine felines and had a stare off with one called Muff (you can’t make this shit up) that looked like it’d been on the ‘nip the night before. A lot of them actually seem to like congregating in the dark corner by the loos, which considering how many women were flailing around waving fluffy mice and making baby noises at them, I can’t say I blame their choice.
The delivery of what is likely to remain the most underwhelming lunch of 2020 managed to make cats leave rather than appear, an impressive indicator that what I was about to eat probably wasn’t going to be that great. Not even asbo cat apparently wanted to try and toss this toasted beige off the table. The quesadilla had very little chicken in it and what was there was flavourless and drier than the kibble my furry friends were probably eating in the corner. If it didn’t come out of the microwave I’d be very surprised, and the whole thing tasted of very little – as did the vegetarian alternative. We hardly touched the side of wedges, akin to those you get from a well-known pizza delivery chain, as they were bland and floury in the middle, making them pretty unpleasant to eat.
Now look, I’m not an idiot (despite what certain people may tell you) and I didn’t expect the food to be that exciting – it wasn’t actually why I went there and that aspect of the cafe is obviously very much second to the expected abundance of felines. But this food was pretty naff. And it’s not particularly cheap either – most of the pizzas will set you back a tenner and afternoon tea comes in at purple note territory. More alarmingly, there’s a solitary salad on the menu described as a ‘minty three bean mix’ that sounds as hideous as I imagine it tastes. Anyway, I think this might be the kind of cafe you’re safer with a coffee and cake. Much of what’s available you can have in a Wetherspoons for less and I’d bet the quality would be better – I didn’t really eat much of it in the end and left 45 minutes later hungry and without a new anarchist bestie as planned. He remains a myth, a legend.
I don’t want to blithely shit on the place because I know I’m not their target market and it’s a cute gimmick – I saw some really happy people enjoying their visits immensely and not one of them cared about their snacks – but the whole experience with soft drinks set me back nearly £20. And that’s before I was accosted to donate more money to the Kitty fund one last time upon leaving. If you just want to meet some lovely cats (and they are gorgeous and friendly) then go for it, but my pussy paradise this was not. If you like felines and food, save your money and go play at the nearest cat shelter with a nice packed lunch.
* Have you met asbo cat? Has he ruined your lunch? Beaten up your kids? Instagram me if you can hook me up *
Kitty Cafe, Grand Central, Birmingham, B2 4BF
Disclosure: I paid for the food and entry. Words and pics are mine because the cats, sadly, can’t type. On a serious note, the cats look healthy and well cared for – check the website for more info on welfare