5 Cape Town spots where the gourmet porridge is just right
Goldilocks would no doubt approve of the way the Mother City's chef have upped the ante when it comes to serving this nostalgic breakfast dish
Gone are the days when porridge was a gluey bowl of boring bits and a symbol of deprivation. Chefs de cuisine are now cooking up a range of heritage grains and conjuring irresistible gourmet versions of the most ancient of foundation breakfasts.
From oats to spelt, sorghum, millet, chia and quinoa, hot and cold porridge is back on a menu near you - providing satisfying comfort food that comes with multiple health benefits in its slipstream.
Here are five of the best spots to enjoy gourmet porridge in Cape Town:
1. HARVEST CAFE
Apart from the sensational power bowls at this friendly Bokaap eatery, Harvest Cafe's fibre-loaded pumpkin pie oats is a "permanent special", says manager Hannes Odendaal, adding that the mostly vegan menu has been curated by plant-based chef Arabella Parkinson.
This perfect winter warmer and beta-carotene booster combines puréed pumpkin, spiced with nutmeg and cinnamon, and mixed with almond and coconut milk infused with vanilla essence.
Other options include quinoa porridge with turmeric and toasted buckwheat, and chai and coconut-soaked oats with dates, berries and yoghurt, served cold.
• Open Monday to Sunday. 102 Wale Street.
2. LOADING BAY
This airy space in De Waterkant offers a distinctive porridge selection that lives up to expectation. Prince Bawuli, long-time chef at this stylish establishment, has introduced delicious options that will satisfy fussy vegans and good-food gurus.
Choices include an immune-boosting spelt, ginger, carrot and bircher porridge, served warm with oat milk on the side; an activated chia seed dish with sprouted buckwheat, yoghurt and seasonal fruit, and a millet porridge served with cardamom, cocoa and coconut.
• Open Monday to Sunday. 30 Hudson Street.
3. THE POKÉ CO
The Poké Co on Loop serves up a textured quinoa porridge treat made with almond milk. It comes to the table warm, lightly spiced with cinnamon and topped with honey-glazed banana and toasted almond flakes.
Quinoa, which softens perfectly when cooked, has garnered foodie fame as a wheat-free alternative to starchier grains.
Try the cold apple-soaked creamy oats with plain yoghurt or get your superfood fix with a strawberry and chia smoothie bowl.
• Open Monday to Saturday. 90 Loop Street. Call 087-470-0215.
4. GROUND ART CAFFE
High in micronutrients and low on the glycemic index, oat porridge has been a thing since time immemorial. Chef Glen Clark entices customers to the tiny eatery at the top of Strand Street overlooking Table Mountain and the Noon Day Gun on Signal Hill with his version of the ancient staple based on his grandma's recipe.
He starts with dry rolled oats, stirs in a blob of butter and a smattering of brown sugar before adding a dash of cream and luke-warm water to coax out the softness. The result is a creamy bowl of goodness, topped with banana, apple or berry compote and garnished with miniature coronation flowers and other pretty edibles.
• Open Monday to Saturday. 160 Strand Street.
At Hemelhuijs in Cape Town's CBD, chef Jacques Erasmus has had porridge on his menu way before it was back in fashion.
His soft mieliepap is presented simply and without fanfare, with a whorl of honey and a blob of slated butter. Jacques's talents extend beyond the kitchen into the decor and design, and you can browse the ceramics on sale or flip through the beautifully designed super-sized menu while waiting for your oats to arrive.
Oh, and don't forget to look up - his ceiling is probably the most famous one in town.
• Open Monday to Saturday. 71 Waterkant Street.