Best Part: The Baking!
Today we tried for the second time to visit St. Alban’s newest eatery. Last week we had to abandon the idea as Gail’s was heaving with visitors. Today it was pleasantly full – enough to know you had chosen a good café but with a couple of free tables allowing you to breathe. I like breathing, although when I enjoy eating food as much as I did at Gail’s it can be hard to prevent hyperventilating.
The site, formerly owned by a Pawnbrokers is next to the Boot pub and overlooks the Clock Tower. It is in short a brilliant central location. It is invitingly presented with personalised floor tiles on the threshold and an array of baked breads in the window. You don’t have to eat there, if you just wanted to pop in for a loaf you would be very welcome. However I challenge any sane person to do so because everything looks so yummy you. I was sad to hear that the Bakehouse was closing but Gail’s (part of a small London chain) is a very good substitute. They have a similar menu of mouth wateringly golden pastry coloured goods – quiches, scones and cakes with imaginative sandwiches on artisan breads. They also serve a varied breakfast menu until 3pm! The staff were enthusiastic and friendly.
Now Mr Midweek Lunch and I were overwhelmed and excited by the counter full of baked goods. Unable to choose between everything we took a tapas option and ordered four different things to share. The tables in Gail’s are small and tightly packed (my only quibble) so we had trouble fitting it all on but it was so tasty that two plate loads were emptied quickly.
A cheese straw was a must. Now, Mr Midweek Lunch and I have tasted many of these in our time and considered this one of the finest, only rivalled by my cousin’s. However Bethany lives in Essex thus her cheese straws are not often available to us. Gail’s giant offering although rosier than a traditional straw, was so soft on the inside that my own insides jumped for joy. Whoop!
I thought it couldn’t get much better until I tried the parmesan and sage scone. Oh my! My natural curiosity lead me to dip it into the lemon and olive oil salad dressing that came with the mushroom and caramelised onion quiche. Oh my word, it was an amazingly creamy and tangy combination. Suggestion to Gail’s – serve the scone with a small pot of lemon butter. Our waitress told us that the quiche was her favourite and we could see why. The onions were sweet, the mushrooms surprisingly meaty and the crust was packed full of buttery niceness.
Now whilst a normal bakery of your Greggs or Cheryl might be happy just to go with a sausage roll Gail’s look beyond the obvious and all the way to the Mediterranean with a Lamb and Pine Nut Roll that was worthy of some kind of Greek God of baking, Pastrisia or something. There was a slight quibble that I won’t go into but they dealt with it impeccably, resolving it promptly and giving us vouchers for a couple of free coffees or loaves of bread.
We took the bread option, as coffee is for people who are have been drained of their natural energy by the multiple disappointments of life and so need to prop themselves up with artificial stimuli. Looking at the range of flour types, coatings, flavourings and styles I felt frustrated by my unimaginative children. I had to buy a standard white loaf but it looked pretty good to me. I also had some great tea.
The decor was fresh and white with nothing too gimmicky. The main decorative feature was the counter of food which is exactly as it should be. The food was of a very high standard. It is of a certain type so if you don’t like baked goods or sandwiches this might not be the right place. However for most people it would be a great lunch or afternoon tea stop.
Gail’s, you are a welcome newcomer.