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.