Gail’s bakeries put mother's pride in their loaves. The chain focuses on having very good bread and everything else rather falls into place. With this relatively new branch, Gail’s has expanded, boasting a foothold in the bustling Exmouth Market food scene.
Gail’s is easily found, about half way up Exmouth Market - a foodie's favourite usually full of activity. The café itself is modern in its look, painted mainly white throughout with smart hints of red echoing both the logo and brand theme. There are seats available outside enabling Gail’s to be competitive come summertime (dining al fresco proves very popular on Exmouth Market). As you step inside, a mouthwatering selection of pastries, baguettes and desserts prove to be the focal point, stretched out dazzlingly across a long red table. Low hanging light fittings and sleek paintings add to the contemporary feel and the dining area is divided by a long communal dining table, with comfortable lounge style furniture on one side and small wooden tables and chairs for a more classic dining experience on the other.
The staff at this bakery make for an extremely pleasant dining experience, with baristas and waitstaff making a point of offering plenty of recommendations amidst their enthusiastic, efficient service. Due to its location you can expect lunchtimes to be busy, with flurries of local workers grabbing a decent bite to eat-in as well as takeouts (virtually everything is available to go). The service area does get busy but the number system (like a butchers in the good old days) makes it easy for customers to sit and wait unworried as your food is prepared.
One of the main attractions here is the breakfast menu which is on offer from 7am-2pm. It features a group of tasty artisan breakfasts, including a delightfully creamy porridge (£5.50) served with a very good roasted plum and rhubarb compote. For a more hearty start to the day look no further than the equally excellent toasted English muffin served with bacon, fried egg and slow roast tomatoes, or indeed the mushroom, spinach, taleggio cheese and fried egg served on sourdough bread (both £8.50). For the sweet-toothed contingent there are rich buttermilk hotcakes served with roasted pear, pecans and Greek yoghurt (£6.50).
Although the lunch selection may be rather basic in comparison to other local spots, Gail’s still serves up a number of very tasty dishes. An impressive array of salads (from £5.95 to eat in or £4.95 to take out) prove popular, and with pretty good reason. With all the salads on show in the fridges it is a tough decision to make - the ham hock with gigli (campanelle) pasta and pea and mint pesto is worth trying, as is the smoked salmon and black barley salad.
You will be hard pushed to find many better sandwiches than here. The delicious lomo, goat's cheese, red pepper and aioli ciabatta (£5.50) has a brilliant array of flavours, headlined by some great, marinated steak. Similarly the Napoli salami and pickle sandwich (£5.50) garnished with mustard butter is a delightful piece of Big Apple indulgence.
It's clear there's plenty of pride in those appetising sweets and pastries peppering your eyeline on arrival. The chocolate fondant (£4.95) and freshly baked lemon drizzle cake (£2.20 a slice) are exquisite, bettered only by an apple crumble pie (£2.95), which is essentially a cupcake riff on the classic dessert.
The Exmouth market branch of Gail’s is the only one to serve wine and beer, making it a more viable option in which to while away some time in the summer sun or indeed the moody London rain. Again, just as most of the food is on show the drinks occupy large chiller fridges for all to see. The competitively priced South African Stellenrust Chenin Blanc proves popular, as does the Italian Crede Prosecco Di Valdobbiadene. The increasingly seen Greenwich Meantime lager is also available by the bottle, keeping the beer trendies happy no doubt. If booze isn't your thing then there's a sizeable selection of fruit juices, including Kent-made Chegworth Valley apple juices which are very good indeed. Of course a healthy selection of coffees and teas are also available, and keep the standard up well.
The Last Word
This place isn't just a good pit stop for people looking for lunch on the move. The drinks, the al fresco seating and the location make this somewhere for staying, too.