Gail’s, probably my favourite café, is an artisan bakery scattered throughout London and closest for me, in charming Dulwich Village. Walking past the piles of cakes and pastries at the coffee-shop entrance to the restaurant requires heroic amounts of self-control. Although it’s usually my go-to coffee jaunt as they serve absolutely top-notch Bonsoy lattes made by carefully-trained and very friendly baristas, since a companion was keen on a Saturday luncheon here, a review is in order.
Gail’s has a bakery in its DNA and bread underscores the food. For its founders, bread should be “beautiful” in how it looks, smells, feels and tastes. My companion therefore chose the attractive looking Falafel, salsa and lemon yoghurt sandwich, served with plum tomato salsa and a Greek lemon yoghurt in a freshly-baked cream bun.
Although bread is ultimately their bread and butter, luckily for me, they also prepare and serve up all other sights of delicacies. For breakfast, or a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, they have even recently introduced a Coconut quinoa, passion fruit and pistachio pot. Very me.
Deciding what to luncheon on, I enjoyed browsing the deli area and was delighted to discover freshly prepared salad pots ranging from Beetroot, lentils and goat’s cheese, as well as a Quinoa and Raw Veg Salad with a beetroot and walnut dip, smokey aubergine dip and a tahini vinaigrette. For me, quinoa is always a treat so I opted for this.
These unusual and fusion combinations of ingredients reflect the diverse backgrounds of their founders – Ran Avidan from Tel Aviv and Tom Molnar from Florida. Indeed, what connects Ottolenghi, Gail’s Bakery and Baker & Sprice, three of the most respected names on the London bakery landscape, is Tel Aviv. When Ottolenghi arrived in London from Israel, he worked for Baker & Spice and its sister company, The Bread Factory, whilst Avidan worked as a consultant for The Bread Factory, before setting up Gail’s with Tom Molnar. According to Avidan, “almost all the top bakeries in London have an Israeli in the kitchen”.
For afters, my companion enjoyed a Salted caramel, banana and pecan cake.
Gail’s slides seamlessly from a coffee shop and brunch spot, to a long lunch location and a laidback dinner place. I’d like to return for brunch next time and will be sure to try the Sweetcorn pancakes (£7), served à la Brew, with coriander and red chillies, as well as tomato relish, avocado salsa and sour cream. The service is friendly, and the mood is relaxed, perfect for a long linger and some cognitive thinking (the moto on their takeaway coffee cups!).
Gail’s, 91 Dulwich Village, London, SE21 7BJ