26 Grains

Restaurants, Vegetarian Covent Garden
4 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(14user reviews)
26 Grains

A tiny restaurant in Neal's Yard specialising in porridge, not just sweet but savoury.

In an open-fronted café, with weather-beaten wooden benches and teeny stools – there are no big bums here – lies London’s healthy answer to The Cereal Café. Inspired by Scandinavian cooking after spending a year in Copenhagen, Alex Hely-Hutchinson started 26 Grains and can still be found, her sleeves rolled up, serving up the porridge.

26 grains offers a seasonally changing menu of colourful porridges loaded full of nutrition, plus the all-important yum factor – the banana cacao is wonderfully sweet and a real morning treat. It also serves bloody strong coffees – available with almond, coconut and good-ol'-fashioned cow’s milk – and virtuous herbal teas. Open from 8am during the week, the space is busy with health-conscious early birds and people with a penchant for instagramming their food. Who can blame them? This is seriously pretty grub.

Although 26 Grains is geared towards the breakfast market, towards lunchtime there are a couple of savoury porridges on offer – we tried the egg and kale, which comes packing a fiery sriracha punch. With onions throughout and avocado on the side, this is earthy, delicious comfort food. It’s good value for money, too, even though prices range between around £5.50 and £6.50 per bowl. This is not just a bowl of Dickensian gruel, for a start: the portion sizes are generous. And it’s also one of the most delicious porridges in the capital, which just so happens to be very good for you. Plus you get flowers in your breakfast bowl, for God’s sake.

By: Miriam Bouteba

Posted:

Venue name: 26 Grains
Contact:
Address: 1 Neal's Yard
London
WC2H 9DP
Opening hours: Mon-Thur 8am-6pm; Fri 8am-5pm; Sat, Sun 10am-4pm
Transport: Tube: Leicester Square
Price: Meal for two with drinks and service: around £17.
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Average User Rating

4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:4
  • 4 star:7
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|14
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tastemaker

Cute little health spot in Neal’s Yard. I had the hazelnut butter porridge which was very yummy but didn’t fill me up as much I thought it was. The queing, seating and paying system is a bit awkward in such a small space and the queue going out the door meant that it had to be constantly open, so we had to keep our coats on, on a chilly January morning. Will be popular among the health conscious and presentation really is their thing!

tastemaker

Tucked away into the corner of Neal’s Yard in London, the café brings the book to life in a wonderfully intimate setting. My favourite recipes are not the ones with pages of ingredients but instead focus on just a few key components that work in harmony and make the dish sing. This is very much the theme behind the menu at 26 Grains. For those – like me – that are big fans of brunch then this is a place for you. Porridge alterations are the main focus, each bowl is beautifully colourful with a range of nut butter and fruit to accompany.


Savoury options are also available and I would highly recommend the black rice, salmon and kale bowl – this is one I shall be certainly recreating at home – and the artichoke soup looked, and smelled, delicious.


As brunch spots in London go, this is certainly up there amongst my favourites. Alex has turned a breakfast classic into a piece of artwork and she has certainly reaffirmed my love for the humble oats. 

tastemaker

If you like oats this place is your haven!! From savoury to sweet I haven't found a dish I haven't loved. Tucked away in the colourful courtyard it's a lovely little place to cosy up in especially in the winter. I like to go earlier in the mornings on the weekend so I don't have to line up for a bowl of goodness.

tastemaker

Love this very on trend cafe tucked away. Simple honest food served in a very "gramable" way. Have eaten my way through most of the breakfast food and found it all to be good. The smoothie bowls in particular are decliously healthy. The best pet is I have always managed to get a seat! Great for a breakfast catch up before work

tastemaker

Who knew porridge could do both? Well at 26 grains they have sweet and savoury offerings at their cute cafe in Neal's Yard. Considering it's just porridge, prices are a little high at £8 

Tastemaker

The prettiest bowl of porridge in all of London town. That is 26 Grains’ thoroughly deserved claim to fame. Squirreled away in Neal’s Yard, this adorable little beacon of hygge began life as a pop-up in Old Street tube, a station that’s rapidly becoming THE place to start out for the pop-ups of the capital. Quality, simplicity and seasonality are the trifecta trademarks of Alex Hely-Hutchinson’s booking-free, teeny-tiny, open-fronted-when-sunny restaurant which offers sweet & savoury bowls of comfort seven days a week.


Using the best natural produce available, sweet options are either recognisable with a twist – Nutella and sliced banana becomes the delectable cacao nibs, banana & date syrup – or tap firmly into the Scandinavian way of dining – pear, maple, spices and seeds make up the ‘Nordic Pear’.


While porridge may not seem the likeliest of vehicles for a whole host of savoury flavours, the relative blandness of grains and milk make for a perfect blank canvass on which to pop everything from kale & poached egg to tamarind, aubergine pickle, roast chicken or hot smoked salmon.


This is not the sweet sachet porridge of your Monday to Friday at work, nor is it the Ready Brek paste that used to fuel your childhood winters. These are clean, comforting flavours, well balanced and served in generous portions that won’t break the bank and with various non-dairy milks available alongside sweet treats and classic & on-trend drinks (turmeric hot chocolate is spicy, warming and delicious FYI), you could bring pretty much anyone here for a breakfast that will both take you back and bring you bang up to date.

tastemaker

26 grains is a nice, cute coffee shop located in the heart of Covent Garden, offering a very interesting menu, different to the typical brunch you will find in other restaurants. I absolutely loved the Egg and Kale bowl I ordered even though it didn't fill me up. The portions are small, so you might need to order a couple of things. The staff are friendly and relaxed. Sitting is offered both outside (in Neal's Yard) and inside (limited).

tastemaker

Nice place in one of my favourite central spots, Niels Yard. 


The service is different than other places in the sense that you get to sit wherever you want (if there is available seating), you are not shown to a table and noone is letting you know that something is available. You have to go to the counter and place you order as well. The staff is friendly and very smiley. 


What I ordered was really not good though. I had the Nordic Pear (Coconut Milk Oats, Spices, Seeds, Cacao Crumble, Coconut Yogurt, Pear, Maple). I don't know why I ordered that, because reading the description now, it does not sound very appealing. It was basically tasteless and if any taste came through it was the pear (which wasn't cooked into the porridge). I would not recommend this particular option. 


I would recommend the Hazelnut & Butter though. That was yummy! My friend got that and it made me jealous that I didn't go with that option as well. 

Tastemaker

26 grains is a tiny cosy place in colourful Neal's Yard with healthy warm bowls of oats. It is quite popular for the porridge but I tried the Coconut, Kale, Chickpea bowl which consists of Brown Rice, Coconut Chickpea Stew, Kale, Aubergine Pickle and I must say it is simply delicious but it is curry-like so it is highly recommended to order some sourdough bread on the side! Hot turmeric chocolate is also delicious. My friend tried the avocado on rye and a delicious smoothie, both very good. Everything seems really out of the ordinary and of high quality. The atmosphere was really nice and the staff very friendly. There were some tables outside so it should be nice to seat out there on warm days! I believe it is slightly overpriced. But give it a chance and I'm sure you will like it!

tastemaker

Catered for rooftop pop up yoga in dalston. Served granola, rhubarb puree and yogurt followed by rye bread with butter, cucumber, avocado, boiled egg and moist flavoursome banana bread/cake. All the food was eaten and the only downside was that when I went back for seconds, there was nothing left. Ha, it kept me wanting more so I'd definitely check out the restaurant for more.

Tastemaker

In my first English lesson at school long-long time ago, I learned three facts about my future home: it always rains in England, police wears tall hats and rides horses, people eat porridge for breakfast. While the first two became apparent soon upon my arrival, it took me almost a decade to see oats on anyone's breakfast table! Hidden in a cosy yard among the narrow streets of Covent Garden, this little cafe is a heaven for anyone observing a high-fibre diet. These guys definitely know their quinoa from their kamut, and you may well find all 26 types of grains in your bowl of steaming porridge. Finish it off with a cup of turmeric latte to get you charged and ready for the day ahead!

moderatorStaff Writer

If all healthy food was as full flavoured, hearty and interesting as this I'd have no problem giving up cheese sandwiches. Unfortunately my lunch here is an occasional treat as a) at nigh on £7 it's a bit out of my budget and b) I don't have a copy of 101 Things to do with Quinoa at home.

Eating in isn't exactly relaxing though as the stools are so ludicrous. Even the purely grain-fed amongst us would struggle to fit more than one butt cheek on these plinths. It's like kale for lunch wasn't austere enough for them. People watching in there is always pretty fun though, whether it's customers enquiring about the provenance of their oats or mummies boasting about how their 4 year old has a thing for green juice (both true).

Tastemaker

Beautiful setting being in Neal's Yard and such delicious, healthy food. 


I had seen this place on Instagram so many time I finally had to try it out. The menu consists of about five sweet porridges and three savoury along with a few juices and coffee. The flavours are very seasonal and interesting and prices are quite reasonable considering it's location in central London.