Monday, 16 July 2012

Gail’s Artisan Bakery: Part 1

Gail’s Artisan Bakery is a lovely little café-cum-bakery located on the charming Exmouth Market. In addition to its excellent location – with pavement tables spilling out onto the marketplace – Gail’s offers some of the best bread and pastries in North London; and with friendly service, tasty brunches, and fantastic coffee, there are few places I’d rather while away a lazy Sunday morning.

While the outside tables are the perfect place to soak up the sunshine (and the atmosphere) on fine days, the interior is equally pleasant. An artistically display of breads, pastries, cakes, and savoury treats, laid out on an enormous red table near the entrance, welcomes you in; and there is ample seating at the back (with some tables over-looking the open kitchen where the pastries are made – a perfect spot for those looking to pick up some culinary tricks!). The space is light and airy, with white walls, light wood, and muted reds bestowing a fresh, almost Scandinavian feel.

An expansive blackboard behind the counter (also piled high with pastries and cakes) advertises a wide selection of hot drinks and freshly squeezed juices, while a breakfast menu – offering such delights as buttermilk hotcakes, brioche French toast and granola(see below) – graces each table.

While Gail’s is at heart a bakery, it is worth taking a second to note the high standard of their coffee – much as good as Antipodean Caravan further along Exmouth Market, which boats a roaster in its basement, but with the added bonus (in my eyes, at least) of offering larger sizes, for those caffeine addicts among us!

Their cappuccino is fantastic – the ‘toasty’ depth of the coffee clearly tangible under the sweetness of the milk, while the froth is thick, smooth and creamy (unlike the unpleasantly over-aerated foam which seems to be the standard at many chains).

Tea comes in a glass pot – chamomile was especially pretty, with little flowers floating in the golden-hued brew being enjoyed by the man at the next table [picture taken after he left!]

Breakfast at Gail’s – eaten in the sunshine with my boyfriend – was also very good, especially the brioche French toast. Dainty slices of delicately egg-washed brioche, browned in butter and sprinkled with icing sugar, were served alongside tartly sweet rhubarb compote and – my favourite part – a rich and creamy vanilla ricotta sauce (perfect for dipping – yum!).

My boyfriend opted for English muffin, bacon, eggs and tomato: while the egg yolks could have been a bit runnier, the muffin was (unsurprisingly) excellent, and the bacon (of which I stole more than a bite!) was very good – thick-cut and smokey-sweet.

But of course, the real draw of Gail’s is the baked goods, so – having supplied many a weekend brunch with the spoils of a visit to Gail’s – I have reviewed a few of my favourite treats in the next post.

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