So I finally made it down to Palm Vaults, the cafe built for Instagram and it was as mediocre as I expected it to be.
I can’t say it wasn’t beautiful: it is basically my dream aesthetic with its large mirrors, dusty pink velvet, leafy plants dangling over head and exposed brick…but beauty isn’t enough.
I should also be honest and say I did go into Palm Vaults cynical. I lived in Dalston for years and remember the backlash the previous white hipster cafe faced(rightly so). The place is really interesting… if you look at it as art rather than a coffee shop. If we can view it as a comment on the times Palm Vaults is pure zeitgeist. It’s made to ‘gram; it looks much better than it is, and honestly we all know it. Just like your favourite Instagram profile it looks perfect and amazing and exciting but in reality we know it has been painstakingly put together for our consumption.
I imagine this is something a very femme Scarface would create, a late 70s Miami coke dream dripping in gold, pastel believer, and mirrors. The people inside felt to me like mannequins; upon entering you become part of the place, unwitting performance artists playing at being happy and fashionable and young with varying success. You can’t escape the fact this place was made to be photographed and there is something absurd about a cafe who’s main objective isn’t service or food… but again we live in absurd times don’t we?
When we went it was too hot, having been a sunny day. Large glass frontage without curtains(we can’t obscure the aesthetic!) and with no apparent fans or air conditioning it was a bit stale inside by the time we arrived mid afternoon. The place serves ok coffee, however the regular tables are far too high for the chairs they’ve got. Our coffees day at eye level while we sat much lower in comfortable if not entirely impractical lawn furniture. The staff were friendly and quick, and obviously excited about their job…but like the punters it is an excitement about the associated with the place rather than the place itself.
All in all I would give it a 3/5. It’s worth going if you’re as into Golden Girls and that dreamy tumblr aesthetic as I am. Do it for the ‘gram; grab a coffee snap a few pics for your social media profile and forget we’re living in a world of late stage capitalism, environmental upheaval, rising fascism and sea levels…