I politely declined a bowl of oatmeal with bacon, cheese, and apples.
I write now in the hope of sparing others my lingering regret.
The bowl was proferred by Samantha Stephens, who knows she has a pop-culture name, not long after we agreed that she has a more significant challenge. That challenge is me, or at least people like me, who need a bit of bewitching to embrace the pleasures of New York’s first all-oatmeal restaurant.
It puts in dried figs, crumbled gorgonzola, and balsamic vinegar glaze. Or sundried tomato, parmesan, cracked black pepper, sea salt flakes, and glaze. Or raisins, sliced almonds, coconut milk, crystallized ginger, cardamom, vanilla, and brown sugar. Or chocolate, marshmallows, and graham crackers. That would be the oatmeal S’mores.
It also lets you put your own things in, starting with a base of hot oatmeal. You get to put your first two things in free. The toppings, besides those above, include dried pomegranate, pineapple, butterscotch chips, pesto, almond milk, and nutmeg. Don’t order these together.
She asked me what I like oatmeal with. I said one cup of sugar. Still, she suggested The Canadian, even though it’s listed as Savory. It has bacon, sharp cheddar cheese, roasted apples, maple syrup, and sea salt. I didn’t think I’d like that. She sagely brought me a small sample anyway.
It was stunning. It was a veritable party of flavors. The ingredients blended seamlessly to make cereal I’d never dreamed of. I already knew that Samantha had graduated from the French Culinary Institute, and yet I had doubted her. Now I am all alone with my Cheerios.
After the Canadian sample, Samantha brought me a bowl of what I’d selected, which is called, not surprisingly, the Pumpkin Pie. It has pumpkin purée, pecans, brown sugar, pumpkin spice, and whole milk. It was sweet and delicious. But more pleasant than stunning. Samantha had wanted me stunned.
It’s understandable. She took the scenic route to restaurant ownership, starting twelve years ago, when she came to New York from Fairfax, Virginia. She went to Baruch College, where she studied psychology and gained weight. She turned to oats to help with the weight. She didn’t say if she used the psychology.
She chose a store near NYU, so other students could turn to oats. She decorated it with her collection of vintage rolled-oats boxes. She created a menu of two dozen oatmeal bowls, a dozen kinds of oatmeal pastry, and sandwiches made, naturally, with oatmeal bread.
She knows she has to get people to think of oatmeal as a meal. She knows she has to get people to expand their concept of oatmeal ingredients. She knows she has to get people to stop resisting The Canadian. Maybe she should start them on oatmeal S’mores and work them up from there.Get bowled over at OatMeals, at 120 West Third Street, between MacDougal Street and Sixth Avenue, in New York City.