Please Sir! Can I have some more?
Here, the name of the game is Porridge.
When the teeny tiny store first opened in mid 2015, they sat in site next door to where they are now thanks to their upgrade into the bigger space of 1 Neal’s Yard in Covent Garden. The interiors are minimalism at their finest with the mix of wood and stone in the furnishings and décor, completing the Scandinavian look.
Upon pondering the menu, you realise that you are about to have not porridge, but a small bowl of comfort and delight bursting with flavours of which you would never dreamed to have come off a spoon from a bowl of ‘porridge’. When I’ve attempted to persuade my mum to join me she has refused, simply remarking that she doesn’t like porridge. My response? ‘but this is not porridge as you know it, this is porridge to the max’. I have had the pleasure of visiting the little café on many occasions tasting a different flavour combination each time.
My list of bowls to try grows ever longer as the menu changes with the season to accommodate the best produce currently available on which to design the nourishing dish. However, I think it must be said that my favourite bowl that I’ve had there would have to be from my very first visit, where I savoured upon oats that had been cooked in carrot juice underneath a plethora of toppings. I left feeling perfectly satisfied, if not as though I had indulged in a cheeky piece of carrot cake.
I don’t think there is a single person who could visit this little gem and not find something on the new and improved menu that they liked – or maybe more like me that struggles to find something that I don’t like! Not only does 26 Grains serve sweet porridge creations, but now additionally there is savoury grain bowls like risottos, cold bowls such as bircher muesli, there is even an ‘on toast’ section to the menu, just above the sweet treats where you’ll find energy balls and banana bread. As well as some of the best artisan coffee from Climpson & Sons Espresso and Good and Proper Loose Leaf Tea, you are also given the choice of a brief selection of alcoholic beverages, yes indeed, you read correctly, alcohol in a porridge café! This comes as a result of the later opening hours, where you may in fact delight your taste buds until as late as 9.30pm. I always find myself trying to delve into the savoury inventions but yielding to my dominating sweet tooth. Each bowl is a collection of nut butters, spices and of course grains that come to you as a little piece of art, especially when finished off with edible flowers.
Alex has done so well to craft such a unique and inviting space. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting her when I attended a demonstration where we saw some of the recipes from her new book, 26 Grains. Each recipe just a delicious as the next, I tried a wrap with a base of buckwheat to a cacao porridge alongside a blackberry and bay leaf compote that is currently on the menu. She is a wonderfully genuine and considerate human, even remembering me on my next visit to the café. I urge any person, a fan of porridge or not, to visit the stunning success. Yet, I warn that you may have to wait for a table as upon each of my visits the café has been at capacity due to its obvious popularity. However, fear not as you are not at a loss, just take your bowl to go and if it is a glorious day (or not) you can sit in the gorgeous Neal’s Yard and gaze among the quirky one-off courtyard in front of you.
. . . Love from Lulu x
26 Grains, 1 Neal's Yard