Gail's Bakery Review - Clapham Old Town
My first post on my brand new "Eating Out" page"! I am so excited to share with you the places I go to eat out. I have wanted to do restaurant/bakery reviews for a long time, and I am finally taking the leap. I thought now would be the perfect time, as we are only 2 weeks away from outdoor areas opening up again. The 12th of April is the moment everyone in the UK is waiting for. In the meantime, take aways are obviously a thing - and dare I say, they are sometimes even better than sitting in! One take away I love, is a snack + coffee from Gail's Bakery.
There is a Gail's bakery at the top of a hill near where I live in London. It is a shady sanctuary after a 30 minute uphill walk. Yesterday, the sun was out, the sky was blue, and I was hungry & thirsty! I was photographing the beautiful Magnolia trees on my walk: the route from where I live in Nine Elms to Clapham Common takes you through beautiful terraced streets full of them.
I highly recommend a day out in Clapham. Have a look around the Common, and Old Town is definitely worth a visit. You will find lots of cute cafés to buy a coffee and a snack. One of them is Gail's, a trusted favourite of which there are loads in London. I particularly like the one in Old Town, because it is located just off the main bit, and therefore it is pretty quiet. It can get pretty hectic around Old Town/the Common on the weekends, especially when it's sunny. You will often find long queues outside the coffee shops, but if you just walk 3 minutes around the corner, you will find a beautiful square with seating area (called "The Polygon") and a Gail's with a delicious arrangement of goodies!
Once inside the café, things can feel a bit confusing because the queue system is a bit funny. Basically, you have to go to the right of the bar, where you can then look at what's on offer. You order with one of the staff, then move to the left around the corner to pay and pick up your goodies. One of my favourite things to get from Gail's is the Berry & Custard Brioche. It's a delicious brioche bun, filled with vanilla pastry cream and topped with crumble. I also had to get an iced latte, my first one of the year actually. The iced latte was very good - there was a lot of sweetness from the espresso, and it was nice and strong as well which I love. It really tasted of coffee, not just of milk! I also like how they poured the espresso over the top so you get a beautiful ombre effect of the coffee and milk. The ratio of ice:drink was also perfect: enough ice to get a really cold beverage, but not so much ice you feel like there was barely any actual liquid in your beverage.
The bun itself was very nice and soft. I would say maybe it had browned a bit too much on the outside, but this did not affect the flavour. The pastry cream in the middle was delicious! What I love about this snack, is that it is not too sweet. I think Gail's could push this even more by using more sour fruits on top - the blueberries I had were nice, but they were not very tangy like you sometimes get. Maybe a combination with some red currants or raspberries would be amazing. The crumble on the top just gives that little bit of extra indulgence and texture to the bun, which is very welcomed.
The service at Gail's Old Town was good as well. I was lucky it was not busy when I came (it was late afternoon, around 4.30pm ish so not a very popular time) so I was served immediately. It was a bit unclear where I had to wait for my iced latte to come - I took a seat on the bench by the wall, as I was the only one in the shop, but then was told I wasn't allowed because of covid. So then I just stood there in front of the bench. I guess those sorts of things are not Gail's fault but rather funny covid policies! I am already happy that they are even open for a take away.
The interior of the café is rustic with a lot of wood, but with a modern twist. There isn't any seating space except that one bench, as the place is quite small. The counter with all the bakes takes up most of the space, together with a big espresso machine. The breads are propped up unto a middle rack behind where the baristas/bakery assistants stand. It looks very homely and there are plants too. There is also this sign up on the left wall that says "contentment passe richesse".
Contentement passe richesse
With my A-level French, I would say this translates to roughly "happiness is better than wealth". Or more liberally translated, it is better to be satisfied with what you have than to always want more. It's the title of an old French book (1859) and funnily enough it seems they've spelled it wrong on the wall in Gail's. Although it might also be a play on the word, because "contentment" without the extra E in the middle is in fact an English word. Should we give them the benefit of the doubt?
Quotes aside, when it comes to Gail's baked goodies, I will forever want more, more, more! Let's get to the overall verdict!
Gail's Old Town - Verdict
Have you ever been to Gail's? Or is there a different bakery in London that you love? Let me know on Instagram @bakingstori!