The Taiwanese started with cat cafés in 1998 and in the meantime, this trend has spread all over Asia, Europe and the USA. Belgium has three of them at the moment: one in Ghent and two in Brussels. Le Chat Touille (in the Belgian capital) was the first one, opening in 2014.
At first sight, you would think that this is just a café where cats keep you company while you eat and/or drink something. But the cats are not only there for your entertainment. All of them come from a cat shelter, have been vaccinated and spayed and are ready for adoption. As a consequence, there is a coming and going of cats. By the way, the cats that are not ready yet for human companionship are kept in a separate room which is not accessible to the general public. The website of the café – which I will mention later – keeps track of the cats.
But it is not only animal welfare that is important here. As the website of the café says:
“At Le chat touille we love cats, and we also like to eat well. These two things go hand-in-hand : respect for animals, translates into what we eat and what kind of food we buy. Our ingredients are locally sourced, from extensive animal-friendly agriculture. Our menu changes with the seasons and our dishes are cooked on site using fresh ingredients.”
In other words, love for animals and sustainable food go hand in hand with each other.
Let us talk about the food first. Since my first visit in Autumn 2014, the menu has to my utter delight changed extensively. There are a lot more things to drink and eat now: beers, soft drinks, juices, coffee, tea, cocktails, pancakes, soup, toasts, salads, fruit wines, and so on. And vegetarians can quickly find what suits them!
Notice the cute mug in which hot chocolate is served! Isn’t that a lovely design? Anyway, what you actually get is hot milk to which you can add as much – or little – chocolate as you want. What a sweet idea! My espresso was strong and not bitter.
The café itself is long and narrow, with special furniture – and toys! – for our feline companions. Oh, and it is very green!
But let us be honest: we all come here for the kitties! When my fiancé and I visited the café, there were five feline companions. Our favourite was a gorgeous red one. Attention: cuteness overload coming up!
Feel like some feline companionship yourself and a nice drink or meal at the same time? Then head over to the rue Tasson-Snel 11 in 1060 Sint-Gilles/Saint-Gilles (Brussels). You can easily get there by taking tram 92 or 97 and get off at the stop called Janson. You can of course also come by car, but it can be quite difficult to get rid of it. Entrance to the café is free, you do not need to book in advance for a visit and there is free WiFi.
Children are welcome, but they can only play with the cats under adult supervision. Very important: you can only pay cash. Bank and credit cards are not accepted. There is, however, an ATM in the neighbourhood. Talking about money, both my fiancé and I think that the food and drinks are reasonably priced. I paid 10 euros for toast with salmon for example, but for that money, I not only had 2 toasts, but also a delicious salad with sundried tomatoes. And very soon I will share the recipe with you!
Le chat touille is open on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 1 pm until 9 pm. On Thursdays, you can book the café for special events like birthday parties or meetings. It is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Our advice: come early, because the place fills up quickly.
At this moment, the current owner – who has become pregnant – is looking for someone to take over the place. According to the very friendly and helpful waitress, negotiations are underway.