Until very recently, porridge has conjured up exclusively dreary, Oliver Twist images — except no one’s bothered begging for “some more.” Yet seemingly suddenly, gruel is the epitome of cool; beloved by foodies and fashionistas for its transmutable quality (regularly appearing on Instagram, adorned with a panoply of nuts, fruits and seeds) and its figure-friendly nature, providing a wholesome, healthful serving of sustaining, hearty grains.
It’s always been one of the most popular options at model-thronged Dimes, with permutations including quinoa and oats spiced with turmeric, topped with dates, apple sauce, flax seeds and sesame buckwheat granola. And the same goes for celeb-beloved vegan hotspot, By Chloe, where brunch doesn’t mean eggs benedict and belgian waffles, but steelcut oat bowls, anointed with fresh berries, pure maple syrup, raw almond butter and cacao.
Porridge is a major part of the menu at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s exclusively vegetarian, all-day café, abcV; look for sweet versions (a vanilla-chia bowl with hemp and dates, a sea buckthorn and persimmon bowl with amaranth, cape gooseberries and whipped macadamia milk) as well as savory — think forbidden rice and millet congee.
And speaking of sea buckthorn and congee, they’re actually the respective specialties of two single concept spots. The first is Claus Meyer’s Grain Bar in the Great Northern Food Hall; an ode to “grød” — the Danish word for porridge. Offerings include a twist on the Scandi classic “øllebrød”(a mash of rye bread and beer), as well as oat and barley with fresh fruits, and dinner-worthy, barley and spelt “grainottos,” crowned with everything from beets, mushrooms and cabbage, to roast chicken and crab.
As for the Chinese rice porridge, known as congee, that’s the focus of The Good Sort — a new vegan eatery from the Chinese Tuxedo team. And while the breakfast staple is usually far from photoworthy (basically a translucent white mass, bobbing with things like pork stomach, beef liver, preserved eggs and pigs blood), these bowls are sure to give Dimes’ a run for their money on Instagram; with vibrant garnishes running the gamut from champagne-poached cranberries and maple granola, to braised shitakes, jicama, and the crueller called Youtiao.
It’ll have you making like Oliver Twist, and begging for some more.
49 Canal St
185 Bleecker St
38 E 19th St
89 E 42nd St
The Good Sort
5 Doyers St