Le Relais de Venise Yes it’s a cliché but you just know deep down inside twhen a restaurant offers you a menu the thickness ... Read Feature
It was farewell Carluccio’s and hello to Gail’s as one chain dining experience replaced another on Earlsfield’s main drag. I’d always been ambivalent about Carluccio’s, nice décor, reasonable prices and average food. I’d only ever really eaten there for breakfast and found the scrambled eggs too runny and the crispy pancetta ironically too crispy rounded off with coffee choices that were too confusing.
Now the site had been taken over by Gail’s and every time I’d wandered past seemed to be doing a roaring trade. Was this simply due to the novelty factor, Earlsfield doesn’t lack for alternate café choices. Or was it as good as the bustle suggested, I knew I had to find out.
One Saturday morning then, I found myself accompanied by the Queen of Fitzrovia and her friend The Gymnast as we sat down in search of breakfast sustenance. We’d been working out previously at Flipout Wandsworth, the trampoline park, where I’m sure I’d set a record for being the oldest ever person to jump into the foam pit, and certainly the only one over 40 to do it twice.
My companions being significantly younger, fitter and better than me were able to do things on a trampoline I could only dream of. My actions were limited to bouncing up and down, whilst they somersaulted, twisted, piked and various other movements I was unfamiliar with.
It’s still a good workout however, and a great way of building up a guilt free appetite in health-conscious January. To be honest I’m also a sucker for novelty and it was me who’d then suggested breakfast at Gail’s.
The first difference you notice is that Gail’s is now a grab your own, instead of please wait to be seated establishment. The second is that the kitchen has now been moved out into part of what was the dining room, where you can see dishes being prepared. And lastly, it’s no longer waitress service, now it’s up to you to queue up to order and pay together.
The menu is varied, with as you’d expect in bakery a large selection of things on toast (you know the drill, avocado, smoked salmon, bacon and above all eggs.) There are also selections of the sort of bread you’d like toasted and things stuffed into rolls (well cheeses and avocado.)
There are also gratifyingly for those looking to avoid bready comestibles other choices available, includingporridge, fruit salads, potato cakes and something called overnight oats. This might be worth checking out at some point in future.
The Gymnast had been a superlative talent at trampolining, bouncing, spinning and ascending higher than I could even contemplate. This I feel earnt her the serving of French toast that she ordered. Both myself and The Queen went for the potato, leek and cabbage cake served with sour cream and bacon. The gymnast being the lithest of us set of into the melee around the till to place our order.
It was busy in there that Saturday. Nearly every seat was taken, and the queue to order and pay resembled activity on the Northern Line at rush hour. Surprisingly though The Gymnast wasn’t gone for too long, and even more surprisingly our order didn’t take forever to follow.
My white americano was competent (you see how hard it is to write about drinks when they’re not ordered from a wine list.) It is rather hard to find bad coffee in South West London these days, so it’d be surprising if it wasn’t. The food that came with it though was well presented, especially given the crush, and tasty.
The French toast was not only well put together, but also in such plentiful supply that at a pinch it could have fed 2 gymnasts rather than just the one we had with us. My potato, leek and cabbage cake was composed more of the latter two ingredients than the former, this led to a more interesting flavour and colour and in what I think is a case of wishful thinking on the Queen’s part a reduced number of calories.
The grilled bacon was well cooked without being burnt, and in plentiful supply helping replenish the calories I’d lost through my earlier bouncing. Personally, I felt my plate could have done with being a bit hotter, but the Queen was happy with hers and so I let it pas
What did I think overall then? Well I was impressed with how well they dealt with things on a busy morning and the food was more than acceptable. I think even after the novelty factor wears off it will fit in well with the other choices locally, I just wish it wasn’t part of a chain.
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