When Time Out arrived at the launch of Porridge Cafe last night, the guy on the door was chowing down on a sandwich. Ironic, since the pop-up, running in Shoreditch throughout March, specialises in only one type of food and it doesn’t come between two slices of bread.
On the menu: a mix of grain and rice-based porridges (risotto, then) with an array of toppings including chorizo, pomegranate and chocolate. It’s not a mix-and-match affair, though – there’ll be a select few flavour combos available each day. The ‘porridge’ is pricy – ranging from £4 to £6.50 – but will come in large tubs if you’re taking away and cereal-sized bowls if you’re eating in.
And you can eat-in comfortably; there’s breakfast bar seating along one wall and a long shared table at the back of the restaurant, as well a couple of two-seater spots. The walls are decorated with film posters, which gives the place a more low-key vibe than other niche breakfast venues – we’re looking at you, Cereal Killer.
We got to try some sweet and savoury porridges at the launch, and found them, er, interesting. Our favourite was a chorizo-y barley number, which was saturated with lovely meaty oil. The sweeter porridges were less of a hit.
Time Out’s Liz Darke (above, left) described them as: ‘Gloopy, lacking flavour and just generally unappealing.’ Meanwhile, Laura Richards (above, right) explained: ‘I know it’s hard to get flavour into porridge, but it all tasted a bit superficial with honey/syrup on the top rather than injecting any flavour into the oat mix itself.’
The idea of having a savoury ‘porridge’ followed by a sweet, dessert-style porridge is quite fun. But really, the truth is it’s hard to make porridge that exciting. It’s stuff you eat to fill you up and keep you warm, rather than get an exciting flavour hit. If you took a date here for dinner, they’d probably think you couldn’t eat solids yet. It’s a novel idea, and we’d probably go and pick up breakfast once or twice if we worked nearby, but at nearly £8.50 for a juice and bowl of oats, it’s definitely more of a treat than an everyday thing.