Baker & Spice, the Queen’s Park branch of the upmarket bakery and café, closed at the end of 2008. After more than a year of lying idle then a slow refurbishment, it has reopened as – an upmarket bakery and café. Some of the key people behind Gail’s (principally, Gail Mejia, née Stephens) were also behind Baker & Spice, and this is the fifth in a growing new chain, all of the branches in prime, affluent locations.
The refurb of the Queen’s Park site has given it a much more modern look. The front shop has had its big shared table and seats replaced with a ‘bread table’ display counter; the seating area has been moved through the back into a new extension.
This seated area isn’t as cosy as Baker & Spice used to be. Many diners have to eat off their laps when the place is busy, the hard surfaces reflect noise, and – unlike Baker & Spice – it’s not really a place to linger.
The displays of breads, pastries, sweets and cakes in the front shop are mouthwatering, all impeccable examples of their type. The prices are top-whack, but everything is top quality. Fans of Baker & Spice’s salad counter will, however, be disappointed to find it replaced by a chill cabinet of prepacked and plastic-wrapped takeaway cartons.
At the service counter sandwiches, small quiches and pies tempt instead. A small, snack-sized vegetable quiche with some salad leaves costs £4.60, while a ‘tiger bread’ (patterned crust roll) with an omelette and goat cheese filling costs £4.65. A ‘halva bun’ (actually more like a pain au chocolat: £2.95) and a croissant pudding (a variation on bread and butter pudding with a vanilla custard: £3.95) were both imaginative and unusual.
The gleaming La Marzocco machine was manned by a chap taking obvious care over making a cappuccino (£2.35), using beans from Union Coffee Roasters. The result was smooth with malty notes, finished with a pretty rosetta.
On our visit the place was packed with locals clucking over the reopening of an institution. With houses in the next street costing nearly a million quid, £4.20 for a tiny chocolate fondant cake doesn’t seem so much to pay.
75 Salusbury Road
|Opening hours:||Open 7am-7.55pm Mon-Fri; 8am-6.55pm Sat, Sun|
|Transport:||Tube: Queen's Park tube/rail|
|Price:||Light meal for two with coffee and service: around £25|
|Do you own this business?|
Average User Rating
2 / 5
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I loved this corner cafe when it was Baker & Spice & usually love Gail's but staff shouting across the shop "Excuse me! Excuse me! We do that for you!" to a woman carrying a very young baby who has logically picked up a loaf of bread (no signs to say ask for staff) makes for a slightly anxious atmosphere where you're not sure what you can & can't do in a coffee shop with baked goods openly on display all around the shop. The seating area in the back is very overcrowded even when half empty. Fewer seats crammed in would definitely help.
The staff at this GAILS are superior bordering on hilarious, insisting the general public BEG them for the chance to pay stupid prices for their bread and cakes and coffees. They could ALL learn a lesson from their happier, sunnier counterparts at GREGGS on Kilburn High Road!
I find this place pretty average, very overpriced - £6.95 for a coffee and croissant. Just seems ridiculous and the coffee lukewarm and not particularly flavourful despite this place boasting world class baristas! Find the service pretty average sometimes bordering on surly too. Not half a good as it thinks it is!