I don’t know what it is about living in Grant Park and Cabbagetown, but we residents seem to need a lot of coffee. There’s Octane, Grant Park Coffeehouse and Carroll Street Café. An additional two opened in the last month – Java Cats Café and Petit Chou.
The one getting the most press is Java Cats (415 Memorial Dr., 470-305-7575, javacatscafe.com). Located next to the popular Tin Lizzy’s Cantina, across from your future home in Oakland Cemetery, Java Cats combines a cat adoption center with a coffee shop. Cat cafes originated in Japan, where the kitties actually mingle with customers while they eat. American health regulations don’t permit that, so the cats occupy a separate room. You must ordinarily reserve an hour to visit the cat room and you’ll pay $10 per adult for the privilege of cuddling, scratching, sneezing and sipping complimentary coffee.
The cost might be prohibitive for polyamorous peeps, but it’s for a good cause. The cafe teamed up with Paws, the no-kill shelter, to supply the would-be adoptees. It buys its pastries from Gathering Industries, which provides culinary training to homeless people, so they can get jobs.
I’ve visited Java Cats a couple of times and found the coffee superior to most around town. The barista made me a perfect cortada and doppio macchiato. I gotta say, though, if you plan to eat there, don’t expect much. There are some decent pastries by the register – cookies and a very good ham-and-cheese scone I devoured during one visit. Unfortunately, they had no way of heating the scone, but said that would soon be remedied. There are also pre-made wraps unappetizingly hidden in plastic containers in a refrigerator bin. I have not tried one. I can’t imagine eating a cold burrito.
The main appeal for the present is hanging with the kitties in a space whose walls are painted with huge cat heads that suggest “The Wizard of Oz.” It’s also cool that the beasts aren’t confined in cages and most of them seem more polite than my own two monsters. (It’s probably an act.) It’s also fun to hang out with other cat lovers, even if you don’t visit the windowed adoption room.
Just down the street is Petit Chou (662 Memorial Dr., 470-270-8996, petitchouatl.com). The name means “little cabbage.” The restaurant is in Cabbagetown. Get it?
This is not just a coffeehouse. It’s a full-service restaurant open for breakfast and lunch only. I’ve only visited once. I love the ambiance. The center of the space is a gigantic square bar. Tables surround it. There’s also a patio.
In all honesty, my meal was little better than mediocre. My cortada here was watery and exceptionally bitter, compared to the same drink at Java Cats. The restaurant was participating in Creative Loafing and Georgia Beef Board’s ATL Burger Week. I ordered theirs – a slider with goat cheese, a dollop of salsa and some arugula. The meat was supposed to be flavored with black truffle oil. I only got the vaguest aftertaste of that. Moreover, the whole thing was unbelievably dry, in desperate need of moisture. I also ordered a house-made biscuit split and layered with a poached egg, boursin cheese and a chicken sausage patty. The biscuit itself was big, fluffy and crumbly. But the same problem arose. The yolk on the egg was overcooked so, again, there was inadequate moisture.
I have no doubt it will improve. Why not visit both spots? Have a progressive dinner. Call it “Chats et Choux” – “Cats and Cabbages.”