26 Grains, London
Set in a sweet, colourful courtyard, Neals Yard, 26 Grains is surrounded by similar organic and health orientated shops and cafes - perfect for a sunny London day pick-me-up.
External timber seating with quirky metal legs spill out onto the courtyard under the awning, perfect for summer. Entering the bustling cafe we were overwhelmed by how busy it was for a Thursday morning, but felt instantly welcomed. Sporadically lit by sweet little candles, accompanied with earthenware pots of flowers, the space feels really cosy and intimate. White painted brick with a dark navy below the datum line, the small cafe still manages to feel open and bright.
We sat at the bar, on a beautiful white marble counter top over a concrete counter front. The contrast of the smooth sleek marble and the rustic concrete worked really well. Light herringbone timber covered the floor helping bring some extra light to the cafe.
The open kitchen allows you to watch your food being prepared, impatiently awaiting the wonderful aroma of food that spills out the open door. Each dish is served on a flat earthernware plate or bowl, with beautiful mugs to match. Watching the amount of care the chefs put into each slice of the avocado on toast and how they delicately finished off the fruit and nuts in the porridge bowl shows the thought that goes into each dish.
Tempted by their beautiful Instagram porridge bowls, I had to test whether it tasted as good as it looked. It does. The quince pecan porridge was the perfect amount of healthy and sweet, and such a full bowl I almost couldn't finish it. Almond milk oats topped with chestnut cream was a complete first for me but was such a delicious match. Opting for a green smoothie to replace my usual morning cup of tea, I felt surprisingly more awake and rejuvenated by the end of the meal!
A blackened steel overhead gantry makes up for the lack of storage around the cafe. Although filled with ingredients for the chefs, there is the odd potted plant with delicate leaves hanging down. On the walls are simple timber shelves, although looking quite cluttered, it does add to the intimate homely feeling. Underneath are leather banquette seats with timber tables and benches, seemingly always full, and I'm not surprised why!
Using the hashtag #cookforsyria, 26 Grains have joined a global fundraising initiative donating £2 for every Honey Dukkah Loaf sold to unicef, helping protect Syrian children. Encouraged by the cause we had to try some and it was incredibly sweet and warming. The touching charity really connects to their whole ethos and a great way to finish off such a lovely relaxing brunch.
They also email all receipts to add a sustainable factor.