Gail's Notting Hill

138 Portobello Road , London, W11 2DZ

Gail's Soho

SquareMeal Review of Gail's Notting Hill

Gail’s burgeoning London branches have been keeping yummy mummies in sourdough & babyccinos since 2005. This clutch of fashionably appointed bakery/cafés – all white walls & exposed brick – pride themselves on their ‘no nasties’ approach to artisan baking & their place at the hub of the community. Counters groan with breads, cakes & pastries from all over the world, including croissants, pumpernickel & chocolate halva buns to eat in or take away. You can also get more substantial fill-ups – perhaps a full breakfast (washed down with Union coffee or JING tea) or a fairly healthy lunch of soup, salad or a sandwich. It all looks dreamy, although some readers suggest it’s a case of style over substance. ‘Confused’ & ‘slightly abrasive’ staff – not to mention elevated prices – certainly don’t do Gail’s any favours.

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1.0

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 1.0

Atmosphere: 1.0

Value: 1.0

Food & Drink: 1.0

Service: 0.0

Atmosphere: 0.0

Value: 0.0

Ken M. 16 December 2009

My six-year-old and three-year-old daughters wanted to go to Gail's. Me, my wife and her sister had just been to see the Christmas concert at Colville Primary which is close by, and agreed to take the girls there as a treat. Incidentally, the concert was charming, and Colville is an excellent school I’d read a deeply unflattering review of Gail’s by the excellent Nottinghillnonsense who thought it hideously expensive. But when the kids said they wanted to go, I caved in after about four seconds. We had a couple of drinks and two gingerbread men, which we paid for when we ordered. Then the girls wanted some orange juice (£2.80 each, tiny plastic cups!) and my wife paid for them. Then she noticed that she’d been charged for the gingerbread men again, an extra £2.20. She pointed this out to the staff, in what seemed to me to be a surprisingly long, though civil, conversation. They said they’d need to check it on the computer. Ten minutes later the kids wanted to leave. I went to the counter to find out what was going on with our refund. ‘I can’t give you a refund until I’ve printed out the receipt from the computer,’ the manageress said. I said ‘Please could you just give us the £2.20 – my daughters want to leave, and you don’t have a loo here.’ Yes in this extremely expensive joint, they have no toilet – we were pointed to the public loo outside. I repeated my request for a prompt refund. The manageress, still fiddling with the computer, said she couldn’t do that until she had a printout. By now, I’d had enough. What did they think? That this was an elaborate scam by us to do them out of £2.20 when we’d spent 15 quid for some drinks and biscuits? I asked if I should just take some bread (displayed on the counter) to the same value. That got them a bit excited. I raised my voice to give the other customers a chance to hear what was going on. ‘So you’re refusing to give me my £2.20 that you mistakenly overcharged me?’ I had everyone’s attention at this point. Eventually (this went on for some minutes) one of the waitresses said that she found me threatening as a man (I think she meant I was a man, not her). She started giving me the money out of the tips cup. She was 1p short, so she pulled out a card, opened the till and took out the 1p. So much for not being able to refund me until a computer printout appeared. Horrible place, I won’t be back. Though I suspect I have a lifetime ban. Never mind, I can give them a smile every morning as I pass by to drop my girls off at school.

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