Gail's Bakery

Question: what's the secret of a really good chain?
Answer: it doesn't feel like one.

A and C generally aren't huge fans of chains; they acknowledge their purpose and convenience (and don't get us wrong, we've eaten many a meal in the likes of Pizza Express and had plenty of coffee in Costa) but, if it's a direct choice between a Starbucks and a Damson, there's really little question which one we'd go for.

When C stumbled upon Gail's Bakery in Exmouth Market the other day, then, she enthused about it to A: who promptly announced to her surprise that it's one of twelve branches around London.

C first visited the Exmouth Market branch of Gail's with her friend C (a different friend C to the aforementioned friend C in another post - we're starting to think we should only have one friend per initial to avoid confusion!). It was a fairly warm day and, since both Cs work in the area, we decided to take a lunch break and find a good local café.

Life is sweet

What makes Gail's brilliant is that it feels like a small, independent, artisan bakery - it's refreshing, relaxing and certainly very cute. The colour scheme is strictly red and white, and the shop consists of long tables packed full of different types of bread (a selection so vast you could conceivably think you were in Germany) and a huge range of cakes, biscuits and assorted other pastries, all of which look very tempting.

If you choose to eat in, there's plenty of seating both inside the café itself and outside, under the canopy in the street overlooking Exmouth Market - it's lovely to sit there and watch the world go by. There's a selection of newspapers available if you fancy a read over your cuppa (though you're definitely more likely to find a copy of The Guardian here than The Financial Times, one would imagine) and a selection of other brochures and leaflets providing information about art festivals, yoga classes and what's on at the Curzon. All in all, it's hardly surprising that the first branch of the place was in Hampstead, and it has a real charm.

A delicious spread

C and C tucked into a variety of yummy goodies to make up a lunch: between us, we had two pots of tea (one jasmine, one English breakfast), a mozzarella and tomato sandwich on seeded granary bread, a goat's cheese, tomato and basil brioche and a piece of organic carrot cake topped with sweet icing.

C is a carrot cake fiend and her sweet tooth generally gets the better of her, but on this occasion she had to admit that the stand-out item was in fact the goat's cheese brioche. Creamy, herby and with juicy fresh tomatoes, it was sweet and doughy and it disappeared in no time.

Get your goat?
If you're around London and looking for a café to pop into, or a place to get bread, jump into Gail's. It may be a chain, but don't let this put you off: it's affordable, quirky, authentically artisanal and generally delicious. It's certainly a far, far cry from your Starbucks or Greggs.


  1. They have gluten-free stuff at Gail's.


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