If you live in London, and spend any time on Instagram, you will have heard of Elan Cafe. The pink floral themed cafe has been trending across the London hashtags and blogger accounts for a few months now. It really is the definition of an insta-famous cafe. Naturally, I had to go check out Elan Cafe for myself and see what all the fuss is about!
There are two Elan Cafe’s quite near each other; one on the Brompton Road in Knightsbridge, and the other in Mayfair. I visited the Brompton Road cafe on a sunny Saturday in April.
The first thing you notice about Elan Cafe is the queue. A gaggle of about 15 20-something girls were lined up along the Brompton Road outside the cafe. Attracting quite a lot of attention from passing tourists, probably because the other restaurants next to Elan Cafe were mainly empty.
I queued for about half an hour and luckily a lady from the cafe comes to take down the name and number of your party as you’re in the queue, and she didn’t mind that I was queuing without some of my friends who were yet to arrive. There is nothing more frustrating than when places insist all parties have to be present for you to enter the queue.
Once ushered inside we were shown to a table towards the back of the cafe. Pretty much every seat was full, and the only men inside seemed to be the waiters.
There is a central bar-come-coffee area with high seats in the centre of the cafe, with tightly packed seats all around it. They were definitely packing us in, the room was completely full.
The decor was exactly as I had expected and lived up to it’s #instagoals hype. Most things were pink and adorned with false flowers everywhere (I don’t think I saw a real flower).
I have to say that I found the atmosphere inside Elan Cafe a bit weird. There were people taking pictures everywhere. People sat in prime seats near the flower wall or other decorations were constantly dodging being featured in photos, and when a prime location was vacated, a few people would swoop in to pose in the seat before it was taken again. However, the thing which I found most odd was the staff. It felt odd to have mainly male waiters in such a feminine place, and especially when they all seemed so grumpy! It took a good 10-15 minutes to get a waiter’s attention, and then he was very transactional, murmuring ‘What can I get you?’. They all seemed quite weary of being surrounded by chatting snap-happy girls, and looked like they were counting down the minutes until the end of their shift.
The effect of the staff’s attitude was that it made the whole atmosphere of Elan Cafe feel false. It felt like everyone was just there to take photos, and not for the experience and certainly not the food (except to photograph it).
I ordered a strawberry smoothie and a salmon flat bread. The food itself took about thirty minutes to arrive. The smoothie arrived quickly and looked lovely in a vintage jar, but tasted more like a milkshake to me than a smoothie. As to be expected, the prices were high, with these two items costing about £20 after service.
Overall, I found the whole experience a bit odd. I expected it to be very geared towards the appearance, as Elan Cafe is clearly designed for instagram, but the intensity of style over substance left me feeling a bit flat. Perhaps it was the crowding, or the grumpy staff, but I don’t think I’ll be going back to Elan Cafe in a hurry, and I think that will be the problem for the longevity of the concept. Once everyone has visited and got their photos for instagram, I wonder how many people will return?