Are you a dedicated athlete training before dawn breaks, a commuter relying on an early bus, or just a good old Catholic who eats porridge rather than cornflakes (see the Irish Times, “Protestants? They wore underpants, had proper toilet paper and ate cornflakes not porridge”, Kevin Tiernan, Thursday 6th October 2016)? The College Green area offers a wealth of wonderful porridge experiences. Here are my sub-five euro assessments.
A solid and reliable source of food, the Buttery provides this healthy breakfast alongside its traditional Irish Breakfast options. €1.40 will scoop you precisely one large or two small ladles of the good stuff. The bowls are the same ones used for the lunchtime soup: sufficient, not generous, but at that price, one cannot complain.
Topping options are honey, brown or white sugar, raisins and almonds. Again, they sufficed but were not delectable. Taste was ok. It definitely tasted like porridge, but a bit too much towards the watery side. A spoon of cream wouldn’t have gone amiss. I was satisfied and almost full, but I certainly needed to have a yoghurt and kiwi afterwards to rid the last of my hunger pangs.
This cafe is so ‘Trinity’ that I avoid it like the plague. But at 8.30am on a Friday, it provides just the right atmosphere, comfy secret couches (upstairs) and noise level to sit and enjoy a creamy, steamy, voluptuous and satisfying bowl of porridge. Paying twice the amount as the Buttery, €2.80 (after the student discount), gets you twice the amount of porridge, meaning that the Buttery and KC Peaches charge the same unit price, the latter providing a better product.
Topping choices were honey, agave syrup for the ‘health conscious’, mixed granola, and a dried toasted nut mix. Opting for the nut mix, they added an interesting crunch to a bowl of delicious and flavoursome goodness. I left in a great mood. I actually could not finish this bowl, but that might be down to the bowl of shreddies I had before my swim. Who knows?
Simply daylight robbery. It was expensive, a pigeon’s portion, cold, and finally, but most importantly, it was not porridge. Advertised as Chia Seed Porridge, I expected to find actual porridge oats in my serving. Instead, it was a little petri dish of yoghurt with chia seeds. Where are the carbs? Coming with delicious granola, nuts and fresh fruit, I’ll give it kudos for flavour, a lovely product.
But six large spoons and I was peering into the dish looking for the rest. Having paid €3.95, I expected a significantly larger portion. It was a nice dish, but it’s advertised incorrectly, resulting in an unplanned loud declaration of “is this actually porridge?” in the middle of the shop. Everyone stared at my horror. I was still absolutely starving afterwards; like I said, no carbs. I had to dip into my supply of snacks for the day to satisfy the morning rumble.
Considered Café, Drury Street
I walked in, slightly hungover and sleep deprived, looking for my fix. Before I even made it to the counter, I was happy with my choice of cafe. At a mere €2.75, you can get an enormous bowl, cooked specially for you according to your preference of milk or water. The topping choice was very varied: cranberries, raisins, honey, sugar, pumpkin seeds and more, and the woman at the counter served me with a smile. Even I struggled to finish the bowl. I also got a wave from the chef in the kitchen!
On top of the value for money, there is also a €5 porridge and coffee deal, which I availed of. Now I am no coffee snob – I am not picky, caffeine is caffeine, but this cafe latte was hands down the most beautiful creamy creation I have ever experienced.
The decor of the cafe made me want to stay all day – I was tempted to skip my 10am class. I was even able to access the Wi-Fi of Dunnes Stores, which must have been close in the vicinity. I will definitely be back. I think I will make myself a regular.
At €1.50 for a nice medium sized bowl, not much can be faulted. The porridge was made fresh, albeit in a microwave rather than a pot. It would have been enough for a normal person, the portion being bigger than that of the Buttery, but being me, I had to supplement it with a banana and crackers in order to feel satisfied.
Once stirred, it had a nice consistency, signifying that it was not blasted with heat in the microwave, but rather was slowly cooked. There were no topping options but at €1.50 that would have been unreasonable to expect. I used the cinnamon put out for coffee and it was delicious.
The upside of the very low price meant that I had enough money left over from my €50 note to buy a coffee. And there is no greater joy than having an extra few quid to treat yourself to a latte at 8am.
DISCLAIMER: This review has been dominated by my need for large portion sizes. I think that for the general reader all of the above cafes will be satisfying, but if you are an athlete fresh off a morning session, I strongly advise you to either order double servings if you have the money, and if not, bring snacks. I have also learned that I am an absolute porridge snob which is ironic given that it is a peasant’s food. I have very high standards and particular ways in which I like to consume my favourite meal of the day.