Cake Shop feels like your friend's 1970s faux wood-paneled rec. room. In that sense, it's cozy and a cool place to get a cup of tea and lounge with your Macbook (let's face it: if you're in the Lower East Side, you have a Macbook) or chat with your friends. I didn't see any bands that night in the basement music area (there were $8 cover charges), but I've heard they get good acts.
I liked that there's a good array of vegan baked goods, but my chocolate cupcake ($2) was dry, sour-ish and had a weird, unpleasant aftertaste. Ultimately, I didn't finish it. It was like a prototype vegan cupcake from the era when no one knew how to bake anything vegan.
My plain tea was pretty good (I had a loose-leaf black variety) but Cake Shop earns jeers for having only awful Oregon brand for their chai. No place in the edgy, cool Lower East Side should be serving Oregon Chai, I'm sorry. It's unbecoming and unworthy.
If you live in New York, hanging out at Cake Shop might be pretty cool. But if you're just visiting the city, there's no reason to go here when you can get better drinks and vegan food at other cafe or coffee shops nearby (such as Teany).