Keep it cool! £500 to spend on the best iced drinks
It's hotting up again, but we know how to help with the commute or family day out - an iced chocolate, mocha or chai latte from one of GAIL's cafés in London and the South East.
Here we go again! The mercury’s rising across the UK once more this summer, but this time round it’s electric fans, bags of ice and paddling pools at the ready (tip: it doubles as a giant ice bucket). Keeping cool on the go is another matter, but fear not – Muddy has it covered thanks to artisan bakery/café GAIL’s, which has a brand new collection of summer iced drinks to take the edge off the sweaty commute or fretted family outing.
Two lucky Muddy readers are about to be gifted a whopping £250 each to spend on whatever GAIL’s goodies they desire over the next year. Spent the lot on the bakery’s new Iced Chocolates, Mochas or Chai Lattes to stay cool all summer, or spread out the fun with a full palette of coffees, pastries, breakfast boxes, salads, breads and more (did you know you can also click and collect or even share the love by gifting a box to a friend?).
There are many GAIL’s bakeries across London and the South East, but if you’re asking us to choose favourite locations, start with the ones below – they all have something particularly special about them that we think you’ll love. But seriously, with £250 to spend, judge for yourself and visit the others while you’re at it.
NOTTING HILL, W11
What’s special? It’s on the iconic Portobello Road – what more do you need to know? And with Parisian-style pavement seating, this is the place to watch the Notting Hill world go by.
What to order: I’m a big fan of the GAIL’s Waste Not range – the concept of using wonky fruit and veg, offcuts and the like that would otherwise be wasted and turning it into deliciously yummy GAIL’s goodies – like the chocolate babka, which is a soft doughy and not-too-sweet treat. Perfect if you’re running low on fuel and want some sustenance with your flat white.
What’s nearby: What isn’t? Dodge the tourists crowding round the infamous ‘blue door’ to Hugh Grant’s flat in Notting Hill (OK, quick selfie then), then head to the glorious Notting Hill Bookshop (Hugh’s Travel Bookshop in the movie bears the sign but is now a gift shop). There’s also Portobello Market with antiques gems like Vout and One of a Kind vintage fashion and the inimitable Alice’s for vintage homewares and curios. Plus, don’t miss the Banksy at the corner of Portobello Road and Acklam Road (second selfie).
What’s special? It’s like a Scandi stylist fairy has dropped down to your local café and waved her magic ‘minimalist but inviting ‘wand. It’s just how you want your living room to be: muted walls, greenery, natural wood.
What to order: Among the options on this summer’s bakery menu one plant-based meal caught my eye – the sweet potato and lentil burger – baked with cauliflower and shiitake mushroom and served in an olive oil bun. Talk about wholesome but without stinting on the taste.
What’s nearby: Hove is packed with gems, including specialist indie kids bookshop The Book Nook, vintage fashion emporium Bobby & Dandy, gorgeous lifestyle store The Grey Works and the Department Flea Market, stacked with vintage homewares and gifts. Family-oriented Portland Road is full of indie shops, including plastic-free Timeless Toys, and a couple of streets back from GAIL’s is the Muddy Award 2022 finalist Katherine Richards Art Gallery, great for a mooch.
What’s special? Set on the busy high street in north Oxford’s most chic neighbourhood, this GAIL’s feels quite small in terms of seating – until you realise there’s a gorgeous secret garden out the back, cool, shady, and packed with vegetation and plants – a real haven.
What to order: It’s got to be an Iced Mocha – made with GAIL’s House Blend coffee, which is roasted by Union Hand-Roasted Coffee in East London and has that chocolate kick for a little pick-me-up.
What’s nearby: A two-minute stroll takes you to South Parade, an indie-shop paradise that includes Muddy Award-winning fashion boutique Vanilla, gorgeous little health food and beauty shop, Wild Honey, Grape Minds – a cracking indie off licence, and the inventive theatre North Wall. A 10-minute bus trip takes you into the centre of Oxford, for shopping culture and history by the bucketload.
HAMPSTEAD, NORTH LONDON
What’s special? Being the first ever GAIL’s, this branch has kudos and occupies a V-shaped notch right in the heart of Hampstead. It has outdoor seating and overlooks a traffic-free side road so you can get away from the bustle, plus its proximity to the Heath makes it the perfect place to pick up a picnic before you head to the ponds and ‘ponder’ a dip (I’ll get my coat).
What to order: For picnics, the iconic GAIL’s parmesan chicken sandwich never fails to win, with its free-range chicken coated in parmesan breadcrumbs with chilli aioli, iceberg lettuce, plum tomatoes and cucumber pickles; or there’s the parmesan aubergine open sandwich option for veggies and the avocado and chickpea bun for vegans.
What’s nearby: Being right in Hampstead is danger territory for the fashion lovers’ wallet with the likes of Comptoir des Cotonniers, Free People and Sandro among the many designer stores. Then you’ve got indie gems like Judy Green’s Garden Store on the car-free Flask Walk and if you’re feeling inspired, pick up a set of watercolours and paper at Cass Art, just up the hill from GAIL’s.
What’s special? A fancy fit out for this former bank, with a tour de force – the original bank safe door remains, so have your Iced Chai Latte in the vault itself, or you can sit nearer the window at one of the Scandi style tables and chairs – prime people watching territory.
What to order: This summer I’ll be pairing my caffeine fix with a new seasonal bake, the pistachio and raspberry bun – a laminated brioche affair with pistachio frangipane and lemon icing (hey, lift your tongue off the floor, it’s not ladylike).
What’s nearby: This being chi-chi commuter territory, there’s boutiques galore within a short stroll of your GAIL’s stop-off, including Muddy Award finalists, the fabulous fashion boutique, The Forge, as well as Oui, a little fashion haven and for gifts, with Aladdin’s Cave Threads and the gorgeous indie Serena Hart, you’ve got it covered. Also check out the hip Map Stores for furniture, homewares and general interiors inspo.
SOUTH BANK, SE1
What’s special? Small and artisan this is not, as you’d expect from a venue in one of the most bustling areas of London these days – it’s a whopper, but boy it’s in a great position for arts, culture and Thames-side views – literally the Eye is nearly sitting on it!
What to order: It has to be the family-friendly Iced Chocolate – you’re quite likely touristing (even if you live in London) on the South Bank and someone small is bound to ask for it. Like the Hot Chocolate, it’s made by melting 65% or 75% chocolate buttons made from Islands’ single farm cocoa beans and blending into any kind of creamy, frothy milk you want. Dipping a shortbread biscuit is an optional extra but imperative in our opinion.
What’s nearby: It’s the South Bank, innit. A few minutes walk from the likes of the London Eye, Tate Modern, the London Dungeon, and right next to the National Theatre and the Southbank Centre. Also pop into the brilliant Foyles bookshop before checking out the free and temporary exhibits in the foyer of the Royal Festival Hall – there’s always something on. Equally entertaining – especially for the kids – are the skaters under the flyover arch outside the Queen Elizabeth Hall.
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