This is technically a “Beyond the Capital District” post, but just barely. If you ever wondered what the closest cat cafe to Albany is, you can now rest assured – it’s only about an hour away in Dutchess County. Morgan’s Cat Cafe in Red Hook, open for a little over a year, is a small restaurant serving vegan fare with a mission. The employees are primarily volunteers, donations support the animal rescue functions of the organization, and the cats on display are not only cute, but also adoptable.
So how is this place different than other cat cafes you may have been to? For starters, the cats aren’t freely mingling around the cafe. Health code requirements have dictated a separate cat room and eating area. There are a couple of small tables, as well as a number of stools with counter space that offer a view into the cat area, so you can finish up your food and decide which cat you want to play with the most.
There was a good emphasis on cleanliness – you wash your hands before and after entering the cat area, shoes are left outside the enclosure, and the food preparation area is quite clearly removed from it all. But that didn’t stop me from wishing I could have a cat walking around my table like some of the cat cafes I’ve been to in France and Montreal.
At the time of our visit there were four cats in residence, in varying stages of active playfulness and adorable napping. You’ve got to have just the right feline personality to make it work at a place like this, and they (mostly) obliged. Except for one that hid under a seat and glowered at everyone the whole time. Hey, I get it: you can’t be “on” all the time.
I know this is a food blog, and I can’t just saturate the web with cute cat photos and call it a day (unfortunately). So perhaps you’re wondering about the food being served at the cafe. The menu is entirely vegan, consisting of items like veggie burgers, salads, and cold noodle dishes. There was also a display case with some cat themed baked goods, including chocolate chip cookies and cupcakes. Beverages include iced coffee, various teas, and fruit smoothies.
I tried the guacamole veggie burger, which was lovely. Although not made in-house, the veggie burger had nice chunks of actual vegetables inside and was a good consistency without being too dense or completely crumbling apart. The guacamole was fresh and tasty, and the little bits of lettuce greens and carrots on top added the perfect crunchy contrast. The burger was served with a side of a cucumber salad in a sesame vinaigrette that was also a nice touch. I am kind of picky about veggie burgers, but I would order this one again with no hesitation.
Obviously the main attraction at Morgan’s Cat Cafe is the adorable cats, but the food was respectable as well. If I lived closer, I would be here a lot for the stress relief of a mid-day cuddle session with the cats, and to support a great cause. There’s enough on the menu for a nice healthy meal, or just for a quick bite of baked goods and a drink.
Here’s to hoping that this cafe is a success, and more like-minded organizations spring up closer to the Capital District in the near future.