The London Review of Breakfasts

"Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper." (Francis Bacon)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Gail's, Clerkenwell

33-35 Exmouth Market
0207 713 6550

by Blake Pudding

After more than a year without full time work, I finally have a new job. This is not cause for delight. The under employed life suited me and I had never been happier. Sadly Mrs. Pudding’s costly renovation plans for our London home have forced me back into the rat race. There are consolations, however, in my new employment: I have my own office with a sliding door, minions on call, and best of all, a company credit card.

I decided to celebrate with a slap-up breakfast. I invited along the literary editor of the Observer, Will Skidelsky, who is a keen gourmand (I’m not using this as euphemism for a fat). We met at the latest branch of swanky bakery Gail’s, on Exmouth Market.

First a little gripe about Americanisms on the menu. No one likes Americans and America more than me but we are in England so there is not need to call a muffin an English muffin. In a similar vein why can’t they use our delightful descriptive term eggy bread rather than French toast? Gripe over; for breakfast the proof is in the pudding and no breakfast could be more pudding-like than Mr Skidelsky’s: eggy bread with zabaglione and roasted quince. The bread was crisp and lightly caramelised and the zabaglione functioned, according to William, like a sweet Hollandaise. Delicious but much too sweet for my morning palate.

I ordered baked eggs on a muffin, bacon, and roast tomatoes with cottage cheese. Cottage cheese! Normally I would have asked them to leave it off but I reasoned that taking into account Gail’s reputation and the high price of my breakfast, £8.50, this would be the best cottage cheese in the world. Maybe it was but it tasted just like cottage cheese i.e. horrible but with chives. Sadly it wasn’t the worst component of my meal. That honour went to the muffin which was stale, stodgy and had not been toasted. My baked eggs looked a lot like fried eggs and were overcooked despite specifying them runny. The bacon was tasty but brittle and ungenerously proportioned.

Did I mention that it cost £8.50? What a cynical take on the English breakfast this was. If my new employers hadn’t been picking up the tab, I would have been furious.


Anonymous H.P.Wells said...

A fine (if pricey) addition to Exmouth Market, Gail's is perhaps best suited to a lunchtime treat than a hearty breakfast.

11:16 AM, January 17, 2011  
Anonymous PippaC said...

Baking an egg? Next thing you know, they'll be steaming bacon.

12:12 PM, January 17, 2011  
Blogger Mrs S said...

I had such hopes for this. Sorry to hear that it was so poor. Being from Los Angeles, the land of brunch, I'm always sad to see when yet another place isn't quite what is hoped for.

6:53 PM, January 19, 2011  
Anonymous Anthony Zacharzewski said...

Going to Gail's for breakfast is like going to a greasy spoon for lobster thermidor. They might do it, but it's not what they do.

The Chelsea buns, however, are to die for.

12:45 PM, February 12, 2011  
Blogger Unknown said...

Seconded: Gails' Chelsea Bun is magnificent.

The soups are good too, and (relatively) reasonable.

6:48 PM, March 18, 2011  
Anonymous doughface said...

Gail's have recently changed their breakfast menu so no offending cottage cheese any longer! The taleggio and mushrooms on sourdough are great.

10:31 AM, June 09, 2011  

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