Over the past few months, my friends and I have seen one cafe – Elan Cafe, all over Instagram; with its milennial pink decor, floral wall and gorgeous looking cakes, we put it on our must visit list.
Also on our list, was the Winnie the Pooh exhibition at the Victoria and Albert museum, and it just so happens that Elan is down the road from there, so we decided to cross them both off in one fell swoop.
The Winnie the Pooh exhibition has already been on for a while and is coming to an end on April 8th, meaning its quite busy at the moment with people like us trying to catch it before it finishes. We were well aware that it was likely to be busy and chatted about booking it for a while beforehand… Then completely forgot to, meaning by the time we got around to getting tickets, there were none left. Thankfully, Naomi emailed them and they said that they alway have some tickets available on the day so as long as we got there early, we should be ok to get some. We got there just after 10am (when the V&A opens on a Sunday) and they had tickets available for 12 o’clock, which worked out perfectly for us because it gave us time to go to the cafe.
It was about 1030am when we got there, so still quite early for a Sunday and it was crazy busy. We walked by two other beautiful cafes that were almost completely empty, which seemed like a shame. I think we were quite lucky because we were seated immediately, at first being offered seats at a large table at the front, which wasn’t particularly appealing as you are then left with a group of waiting people stood glaring at you / could feel the draught from the front door frequently opening and closing. Mercifully, the server remembered she had another table in the back corner and got us sat down there.
Everything about the place screams Instagram, especially including the restaurant full of people like us that had obviously seen the cafe on Instagram and had no shame in taking their phones out to take pictures of every single thing. We could not have been more ready to eat/drink all of the things we had seen all over our feed.
Honestly, we could not have been more disappointed.
Naomi and I got spicey chai lattes, and Gemma got a turmeric latte. They tasted almost identical. I wouldn’t have been surprised if they just coloured frothed milk and put it in a nice cup. We then all had eggs of some sort on toast, which was very much below average.
We were all disappointed but still hungry. The cakes looked AMAZING so we decided to think positively and ask for the cake menu. It was at this moment things somehow went even more downhill. She said that she had given us an hour when we sat down and we only had ten minutes left… This was not something she had mentioned to us until this point. Everyone else around us had been there since before we got there and hadn’t been asked to move. Plus, an hour hadn’t even elapsed.
Nonetheless, we didn’t need that much longer to eat cake so we said fine and all ordered red velvet cheesecake. If you like plain cream, this is the cake for you. Alright, the last red velvet cheesecake I ate was at Junior’s in New York, so my standards are pretty high, but for the price you pay for the cake (£4.50, I believe) we were allowed to want something pretty great.
None of us even finished our pieces of cake because it was so unbelievably sub par. If I made that cake for a charity bake sale I would throw it in the bin and start afresh. Unless the competition was based purely on looks, of course, and I wasn’t going to attempt to make someone eat it.
It cost us all £24 each for that experience and is one of the few times I have ever regretted eating cake. Now, we did go in there with high expectations, potentially too high, so I hope if I haven’t put you off from bothering to make the journey there completely, I might at least have lowered your expectations enough to make it a mildly ok experience. Unless you just go there to look at the decor of course, in which case you have my blessing.
Now I don’t like to just offer problems and not solutions, so I will say that if you’re in the area and looking for somewhere to get good cake, the Hummingbird Cafe isn’t too far away and I’ve never been let down by them.
WINNIE THE POOH: EXPLORING A CLASSIC
Anyway, with that experience finally over, we headed back to the V&A for some good old fashioned Winnie the Pooh fun. As ever, the V&A did not let us down. It was one of the most adorable exhibits I’ve seen. It is well and truly designed with kids (and big kids, like us) in mind. They have bells for kids to ring, tiny doors for them to walk through and our favourite, little sets of steps that can be propped up if the displays are too high up for them to see.
If you have kids or if you are any sort of a Winnie the Pooh fan, I really do recommend going. It was quite busy when we were there but still perfectly lovely.
BARBICAN OPEN FEST
Our day wasn’t over there, either. Last weekend was Barbican open fest, a public festival with all sorts going on at the Barbican Centre (a tube ride away over in East London). We had booked free tickets to ‘Tunnel Vision’ and in all honesty had no idea quite what we were letting ourselves in for. It was described online as a ‘journey through music’, which until you’re there is a bit tough to imagine.
It was actually super cool. They shut off a London tunnel (right by the Barbican) and let a few hundred people in to stood under it, then projected a light installation onto the wall, set to music recorded by the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Alright, it was a bit cold as it was outside, but it was still really enjoyable and most of all, free, which is hard to moan about.
Obviously that was a one weekend thing so I can’t necessarily recommend going to that but I can say that I would jump at the chance to go to another light installation, and you should too.