Last night, I went on an impromptu journo outing to Hackney’s latest hipster creation.
The Porridge Cafe, brainchild of former IT management consultant Nik Williamson, is the healthy side of London’s booming brinner trend (read: breakfast for dinner).
In true brinner fashion, we were greeted with complimentary asti before sampling five of the cafe’s grain-based dished.
To start, a parsley, aubergine and caper risotto – not exactly porridge, but warming and light all the same.
I couldn’t really taste the capers and the parsley seemed to add nothing apart from colour, but the dish itself was well balanced and refreshing without being over-seasoned – something surprisingly hard to get right with risotto.
I would’ve happily paid for a full bowl at up to £6.50 a throw.
Next a tomato and chorizo quinoa bowl – possibly the most Hackney dish on the menu.
Both savouries are available at the swedish-style eatery on Tuesdays 7am to 6pm. This one was definitely not oatmeal – the grain was cooked through but the overall texture shared more common ground with paella than porridge. Highly recommended for anyone who feels compelled to throttle someone when they say the word “brinner”.
The Porridge Cafe, astonishingly, also does actual porridge. Pity, then, that the two dishes presented to us containing oats, that gave their name to the establishment, tasted disappointingly just like porridge.
For all the metjool dates and agave syrup in these pots, they were just that bit too fibrous, too bitter, too healthy-tasting. I’ll pay for good food, but not if the only thing good about it is the moral high-ground.
The saving grace of the sweet selection was the cherry and white chocolate pot made with rye.
Chocolate hides all manner of virtues.
The venue itself was very well executed. Vintage posters from a local retailer added a tiny splash of colour to the otherwise minimalist design inspired by Williamson’s travels to Copenhagen, where he first fell in love with grain courses. “We’re not going for the novelty side of things”, he said. Certainly, the cafe is a lot mellower than many of Shoreditch’s US-inspired eateries.
This isn’t about novelty, it’s a labour of love for the team at Porridge Cafe. Their only regret of the whole evening was not offering recipes alongside the free bags of rolled-oats.
Incidentally, I have an oaty recipe of my own coming up soon. Watch this space.