Located in Somerville's Davis Square, The Oat Shop advertises itself as "Boston's First Oatmeal Café." The founder of Oat Shop, Alan Donovan, is a Massachusetts native.
Donovan began to see the oatmeal's potential at the end of college. Though he started out working a finance job in Washington D.C., Donovan quit his job in January of 2016 and headed to Boston to open up shop.
During the summer of 2016 Donovan collaborated with the Brookline-based art space/café The Middle Gray to set up a pop-up.
This pop-up, which was on Mondays and Tuesdays every week, proved to be incredibly successful. Repeat customers came every week to try out Donovan's unique bowls.
After officially opening up shop in the dead of winter, Donovan has found that the positive patronage has not slowed.
At the time of our visit, there was a large buzzing crowd inside the small space, looking at the menu and admiring the artwork on the walls. "We bought 100 gallons of oats only three days ago," said Donovan with a smile, "and we're already in dire need for more."
Donovan's aim with this new café is to wow people showing them how versatile oatmeal can be. From Donovan's point of view, oatmeal is vastly under appreciated and should be treated more like a basic grain, such as rice.
This aim for versatility definitely does not go unnoticed. The menu of the Oat Shop is separated into three categories for the customer to choose from: sweet, savory, and customizable.
The versatility does not end there, with bowls like Almond Joy, Sushi, and Mediterranean to choose from.
Another versatility can be seen in the variety of options Oat Shop has for dietary restrictions. Donovan himself is both gluten and dairy free, so he understands how invaluable it is to have places that cater to those with dietary restrictions.
He hopes to reach communities that usually do not have many options for breakfast that are quick and filling. Using coconut milk and vegetable broth as bases to mix with his gluten-free steel-cut oats and making sure that all bowls offered can be made vegan or dairy-free.
The bowls that were recommended for us to try by Donovan were the Apricot, Banana & Almond Butter, Apple Pie, and the Sriracha Fried Egg. All of these were amazing, and here's what we had to say about them.
Apricot, Banana & Almond Butter
Wow this one was good, like so good. Despite it being relatively simple, the apricot jam, almond butter, and sliced banana made this a perfect bowl.
It wasn't overly sweet, and the apricot jam definitely elevated the flavor profile to a more distinct sweetness. The steel-cut oats make it filling without weighing us down. Our favorite, hands down.
I know that almost every food involving apples and cinnamon tastes like fall, but hear me out. This bowl is made with house-made applesauce sautéed apples and maple syrup. If an apple crisp and bowl of oatmeal had a baby, this comforting bowl would be it.
The house-made applesauce and sautéed apples made this classic oatmeal flavor infinitely better than any Quaker Oat version.
Sriracha Fried Egg
Savory oatmeal is a recent trend when it comes to breakfast, so it makes sense that the Oat Shop has an entire section of its menu devoted to it.
Donovan has found that most customers are hesitant to try these bowls, but with more accessible flavors like Bacon and Eggs he has made skeptics believers.
This bowl was the one I was most excited to try out, it has cashew butter, soy sauce, Sriracha base, and is topped with a fried egg (which can be substituted with tofu). Another drizzle of Sriracha tops it for good measure, and it was absolutely drool worthy.
Not surprisingly, I had never eaten Sriracha with oatmeal before, but let me tell you that I am a changed person. This bowl was a revelation, and I can't wait to go back to try more of Donovan's savory bowls.
So, what are some of Donovan's plans for the future of the Oat Shop? Well, with warmer weather around the corner, he hopes to incorporate some local produce into new bowls, as well as connect with more local companies and small businesses.
He has already connected with MudandYarn, a Boston-based pottery maker, to make bowls and mugs for the Oat Shop. They carry products made by a local cashew milk company called Nutty Life and coffee made by the roasting company Counter Culture, it will be exciting to see what other businesses he connects with in the future.
If you want to try out a new brunch spot I highly recommend the Oat Shop. The people who work there are incredibly nice and the food is amazing.
Speaking as someone who is lactose intolerant and can't eat eggs, the Oat Shop is a godsend and I can't wait to go back to see what else Alan Donovan has up his sleeve.