Today, for a mid-morning break of fresh air (and, in all honesty, because I was craving something sweet), I wandered to the newly opened Gail’s Artisan Bakery on Little Clarendon Street.
It’s a bright, new shop, fitting in well with Demijohn (artisan gin, a.k.a ‘the liquid deli’), and the Jericho Cheese Company (artisan cheese) on either side, and giving some strong competition to the independent Natural Bread Company (artisan bread) on the same street—although, with the NBC’s hearty breakfasts and unfussy, good bread, I think they’ll stand up to the challenge from London.
Gail’s is a popular London chain. It’s satisfying and beautiful bakes are increasingly popular with Londoners, and it’s now opened not one, but two cafés-bakeries in Oxford: one, last year, in Summertown, and now, in late February, in Jericho.
For £2.50, I got my hands on a satisfyingly large, decadently buttery, cinnamon bun. The large mushroom-like shape reminded me of the cronuts and buns of San Francisco’s cafes, a fist-full of doughy sugar.
As a bakery, the shelves are lined with an impressive selection of sourdoughs, but already this is becoming a work hub for students, attracted by the rumours of rich hot chocolate and cakes. There was a wide choice of cakes and loafs, including authentic (and not flimsy) looking madeleines and small, beautifully iced lavender cakes.
What about the coffee?
I tried a single espresso, without any frills, to get a taste of their core product. It’s strong and hit the spot, but it didn’t pack a punch of flavour that I was hoping for. As it’s lacking this complex flavour and texture, I don’t think it really rivals the best of Oxford’s coffee spots. Stick to Brew (North Parade), or HandleBar (St Michael’s) for your coffee, but come to Gail’s for your cinnamon buns. They rival the sticky butter buns of Turl Street Kitchen, whose beautiful interior and admittedly delicious butter pastries (when they have them) have sometimes—in the past—been let down by poor customer service. Let’s see how Gail’s fares in comparison: so far, friendly and helpful.
All in all:
4.5 / 5 for pastries
3 / 5 for coffee
Gail’s, Artisan Bakery opened in February 2017 on 21–22 Little Clarendon Street.