My nan swears by porridge. She and my grandad introduced me to porridge when I was pretty young, although at the time I don’t think I really appreciated the porridge so much – I was far more interested in consuming as much golden syrup as was humanly possible.
Since starting university, however, I have really gotten into porridge. Not only are oats and spices like cinnamon ridiculously cheap when you buy them by the kilo, but it’s true what they (aka your mum) say: porridge really does keep you going throughout the day until lunch.
Recently, however, I feel I’ve hit a little bit of a porridge slump, feeling uninspired and wanting to have some new ideas to jazz up my breakfast staple without spending a small fortune on protein powders or cacao nibs. The inspiration I was looking for came in the form of my lovely friends suggesting we go to a ‘World Porridge Day’ celebration at the beautiful 26 Grains in Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden, who were doing a 2 for 1 deal on all of their porridge bowls.
It was a little bit unclear about which (if any) of their porridge bowls were vegan, so we just asked and it turns out their ‘Nordic Pear’ porridge (usually £6 but only £3 with the offer!) is vegan – the others used butter in their oats but to be honest this was the one I was drawn to anyway! All of the porridge bowls at 26 Grains have a topping of some kind of yoghurt, but there was no issue whatsoever in getting this removed and replaced with coconut yoghurt! I have to say, it was are delicious. The flavours were so original – if I’m honest I didn’t know exactly what to expect, but I wasn’t really expecting quite an earthy, almost slightly salted, taste in the porridge itself but it was actually so nice for a change, and perfectly offset by the sweetness in the coconut yoghurt and of course the pear. The spiced oats, cacao crumble (like a granola) and seeds and nuts on top were a lovely addition.
With the sliding doors open to the autumnal wonder that is Neal’s Yard at the moment, it was such a nice atmosphere having breakfast with so many other Londoners and it really set me up for the day as porridge always does. It fuelled me through a pretty long day in the library and later on my first gym session in an embarrassingly long time…
I would definitely recommend 26 Grains as a breakfast or lunch spot: aside from their delicious porridge bowls, they also have a Banana Cacao Bircher, some toast options and some lunch options which seem just a bit different from your standard chain options, like a Yellow Daal or Roasted Pumpkin and Lentil dish – perfect for the chillier days ahead. If you are vegan I would recommend double checking with the staff at 26 Grains about the suitability of their dishes for you, but they were really helpful in this respect for me so I can’t imagine there being an issue! After your breakfast/lunch you must check out the rest of Neal’s Yard if you haven’t before. Despite being in central London, the courtyard is such a tranquil little spot and the other cafes and shops there are well worth a visit. Obviously the flagship store of Neal’s Yard Remedies can be found there, and the staff there are always so friendly and keen to help with anything, and you can fill up your reusable water bottle there for free – a rarity in London at the moment in comparison to other European cities!
Happy exploring (and porridge eating)!