Our love affair with sourdough bread and clam chowder was rekindled after our trip to San Francisco. While we didn't get a chance to have that at Pier 33, I would often meet Wife at Boudin Sourdough Bakery and Cafe at Macy's.
Back in London, tried as we did, we just can't find any restaurants serving sourdough bread and clam chowder. Then we chanced upon Gail's at Exmouth Market, which specializes in sandwiches, pastries, cakes and more notably - gourmet breads. A sizable loaf of "San Francisco style sourdough bread" enough to last for at least two meals goes for just over £3. With that, we are good to go with ap can of clam chowder (99p) from Waitrose.
After a week of so of getting our bread from Gail's, we decided to check out its breakfast menu instead. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the interior dining area was much larger (with a skylight for natural lighting no less) than it appeared to be from the outside. Other than a row of low tables, there was a huge workman table that could seat more than ten diners. With temperature getting warmer, Gail's had also set out a small outdoor dining area.
I went for the first item on its breakfast menu - roast field mushrooms, baby spinach, melted taleggio and a fried egg on toasted bread (£8.50). I don't think I have eaten a better field mushroom ever and the taleggio melted over it played no small role. I almost loathed to share that with Wife, they were that good. The breakfast item was one of the examples where simple items just come together nicely with the field mushrooms (yes, with melted taleggio). I would actually opt for this than the usual fare I get from Caravan that Is a few doors down.
Wife went for the brioche French toast with poached rhubarb, vanilla and citrus ricotta (£5.95). I couldn't help but compare it with the French toast at Ottolenghi. Given a choice, I would go for the vanilla ricotta anytime. It just goes much better with eggy toast than Ottolenghi's creme fraiche. The rhubarb added an interesting twist as well.
Gail's doesn't have the roasted coffee and the large outdoor seating of Caravan, neither does it have the variety and audacity of Ottolenghi but what it does, it does really well. We left Gail's with a smile, knowing that we have found ourselves yet another breakfast place that's for keeps.
The Toby Carvery, South Croydon
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