Not just breakfast food: At two London restaurants, it’s all cereal, all the time

At the all-day Cereal Killer Cafe, a bowl of cereal can also be a trip down memory lane. — File pic
At the all-day Cereal Killer Cafe, a bowl of cereal can also be a trip down memory lane. — File pic

LONDON, Nov 12 — For Gary Keery, 33, cereal is not merely breakfast food. “It can be a brunch, lunch, dinner, supper and tea!” said the Belfast-born Londoner, who was inspired by a search for “the milky sugary goodness” one hung-over afternoon with his twin, Alan.

At their all-day Cereal Killer Cafe, which opened last December on a Shoreditch strip of curry houses, leather wholesalers and secondhand shops, a bowl of cereal can also be a trip down memory lane.

In line one Thursday at lunchtime, I was dizzied by the choice of 120 boxed cereals lining the exposed-brick walls, plus 30 types of milk (even bubble gum-flavored) and various “cocktails” (think Marshmallow Mateys, Golden Nuggets and a Twinkie in one bowl, from ₤4.60, or about RM30.30) — and, perhaps, by the saccharine scent.

My off-menu “Campbell’s Classic” (Waffle Crisp, French Toast Crunch) became soppy with custard milk and crushed Cadbury Flake as I watched fuzzy VHS tapes of “Care Bears” and “Friends” downstairs on side-by-side retro TVs. Cabbage Patch Kids and special-edition WWF cereal sat on vintage kitchen cabinets. A band discussed its gig schedule at the next Formica table, stopping to sing along with Hanson’s “MMMBop.”

In May, the Keerys opened another Cereal Killer in Camden; they’re also looking to unveil outposts in Dubai and New York. Last month, it took book form in the cartoon-illustrated “Cereal Killer Café Cookbook,” featuring recipes like Shredded Wheat sausage rolls. (The Shoreditch location was in the news recently for a less appealing reason, having been targeted during anti-gentrification protests.)

Over in Covent Garden, Alexandra Hely-Hutchinson, 25, is on a more health-conscious mission to modernise porridge. After a year in Copenhagen — where, she said, the dish is “so much more than just quick oats in a microwave” — she opened 26 Grains.

Having popped up at local spin studios and the offices of British Vogue, the concept got permanent digs in June as a tiny, Scandinavian-style cafe (whitewashed interiors, reclaimed-wood furnishings, barn doors) in the organically minded enclave that is Neal’s Yard. The concept: Create grain-based dishes — sweet, savory, hot and cold — for every alphabet letter, season and time of day.

During a summer visit, a creamy tomato-coconut-brown-rice porridge with almonds, sprouts, avocado and grilled halloumi (₤6.50) made a slightly bland but satisfying lunch. The “smoothie bowl” (₤5.40) was tastier, combining house-made cardamom granola, bee pollen, banana, shredded coconut and frozen raspberries for a tart, refreshing treat. — The New York Times

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