Goooood morning Monday! How was your weekend? Most likely better than mine, since I've been tied up in my bed super sick with a pretty nasty cold since Friday. On Saturday, the Ted x Teen conference happened in NYC, and I was supposed to attend, but due to getting sick couldn't make it through any more travel. I was even more excited to bring you live updates from the conference! Guess everything happens for a reason right? Expect next year to be bigger and better!
I've (successfully) mustered up the strength to make some homemade paleo biscuits and sit at my dining room table (a huge advancement from the couch!) to write this post. A few months ago I ventured to OatMeals in the West Village to see what all the hype about this "designer" oatmeal was. A ton of friends of mine in the city recommended the hot spot to me, so of course, who better to check it out besides this foodie?
OatMeals is hidden on a little side street in my favorite NYC neighborhood. A wooden sign outside the store advertises what OatMeals stands for, but the place is indescribable unless you step inside. This is one of the tiniest spots in NYC, for sure. Both good and bad (a little cramped seating wise) but good for curling up on the corner bench with a oatmeal biscuit (to.die.for) or a warming bowl of oatmeal. And the menu? Even better. Whether you're in the mood to create your own bowl (think regular or skim milk oats with fruit and almond butter etc) you're welcome to explore tons of options, or choose a signature OatMeals bowl. Read the descriptions below of the bowls I chose for what is best on the menu. Even the peanut butter is creamy and rich, and for a peanut butter addict like me, that is all a restaurant has to offer for me to be a long time fan.
The owner Samantha is even sweeter. After gaining *the freshman 15* in college, she knew she wanted a place to turn to for healthy and delicious cuisine. New York is full of lots of temptations, and OatMeals successfully mixes temptation with delectable goodness and hearty, filling bowls of healthy oats.
You can choose out of 4 different serving sizes: Weird Uncle Bear, Baby Bear, Mama Bear, and Papa Bear. For those looking for leftovers, go with Papa, otherwise choose Mama (if you're always hungry like me!)
OatMeals doesn't just serve oats, there is a wide selection of delicious cookies, scones, and truffles to tempt your eye. I tried to scone and this scone was heavenly. A hint of maple syrup seeped through layers of thick oats, while the biscuit fell apart, just like any buttery piece of delight should.
This is the peanut butter, banana and bacon bowl (does Elvis ring a bell?) and a maple syrup, bacon, cheese and peach bowl. The best is the Elvis bowl. Rich and creamy, with a subtle sweetness from the banana.
I'm a huge fan of the goat cheese with date bowl. I love the savory hint.
Colorful and appealing to the eye!
A: Tell me what motivated you to begin Oatmeals.
S: My first year in college I gained a lot of weight (about 35 lbs!) because I love food and was new to NYC and enjoying all of the amazing food offerings! I quickly decided I needed to do something about my weight and at the time, I was reading about the amazing health benefits of oatmeal. This made me want to start eating oatmeal regularly. I started with just breakfast but was quickly eating oatmeal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and thinking of many exciting ways to jazz it up! I noticed a lot of single item specialty cafes popping up in the city like the rice pudding place (Rice to Riches), the peanut butter & jelly place (PB & Co) and the macaroni & cheese place (S'Mac). I wondered why nobody had ever created an oatmeal toppings bar, similar to a yogurt shop. I made it my goal to be the first to do so! It took me nearly 12 years but I finally made it happen and opened my doors in late June 2012.
A: What are you long-term goals for the restaurant?
S: I'm hoping to open other locations of OatMeals asap and I think I'll be looking at location number 2 by the end of this year. My concept could work in airports, malls, and college campuses so there is a lot of room for growth. I also plan to start a product line, offering my house made granola and possibly some oatmeal cookies in specialty/gourmet food shops. I've recently partnered with Quaker Oats and I'm really excited that I'm now creating recipes for them as well as participating in a lot of digital content for their marketing purposes. It's really great to work with such an iconic oatmeal brand and I'm excited about the future growth of our partnership and working with them to spread the oatmeal word, giving people a chance to see oatmeal in new, exciting ways!
A: When you first began Oatmeals, where did you expect to be now? Have your expectations succeeded what you expected?
S: Having thought about my OatMeals dream for over a decade while finishing college and then working in the investment baking world, I honestly have been pretty close to my expectations with where this business would take me. I knew the real potential behind this concept, I did my homework/legwork to the best of my ability to plan for the growth of my business. It was a lot of years in the making!
A: What is your fondest memory of the restaurant so far?
S: I guess my fondest memories at the restaurant are the laughs with my employees (every day), the delight I see in customers who really love the store/concept, and the really great press I've been lucky enough to receive naturally!
A: Who comes up with the extensive amount of food options at the restaurant?
S: The bulk of the menu I created on my own. I went to culinary school to become a pastry chef while I was working in investment banking. I love restaurants and dine out nearly 3-4 nights a week so I'm constantly inspired by menus I see all of the time. I also love to just walk around gourmet grocery stores for inspiration. My employees and I experiment in the store a lot as well so a few of the signature bowls were created by my staff members.
A: What is your favorite item on the menu?
S: My current favorites on the menu are the Truffle RisOATto (shaved parmesan, truffle oil, sea salt & cracked black pepper) because I'm a HUGE truffle fan and the oats actually taste like an Italian risotto in this preparation, and the Devils Off Horseback because goat cheese surprisingly works SO well in oatmeal and bacon makes everything better!
A little too simple for me, but my friend loved this fruit, almond butter and syrup bowl. You can easily make this at home (which is why you should opt for something totally unique at this joint).
Make sure to stop by OatMeals in the West Village for breakfast, lunch OR dinner!