Let’s forget that the lunchtime delivery from Gail’s Artisan Bakery went to the wrong building – yes, it’s a prerequisite of a delivery service that it, well, delivers, but it happens often enough to Spear’s as we have multiple offices. Let us think of the food instead.
There is certainly no shortage of variety in what can be delivered. We had a box of miniature sandwiches, a box of mini-brioches, a variety of filled rolls (as in sausage), a salad pot with faro wheat, chorizo, pistachio and roasted cabbage, some cheese bites (puff pastry rather than choux), a selection of baked dessert goods, a pot of fruit salad, scones with jam and cream and some blackcurrant yoghurts with granola.
The best part of the delivery was the miniature sandwiches, which both looked appealing – it’s very easy to neglect appearance when you’re stuffing two thousand mini-ciabattas – and had flavours which reflected the quality of the ingredients. Too often smoked salmon, say, is rubbery and salty, but my colleague reported intense satisfaction with hers. (The avocado yoghurt underneath added nothing.) The harissa chicken sandwich had a pleasant burn. (Mini-sandwich boxes are £22 or £24 for eighteen.)
But the rest of the savoury food failed the flavour test, ie it failed to have any flavour rather than even bad flavour. Roasted pepper, feta and olive brioche is an uninspiring combination, and the salad (£35 for a sharing bowl) was a surprising mismatch between appearance and taste. The mottled-green pistachios and the pale-green cabbage looked the part, but you could eat and eat this salad and never taste it.
The fruit salad was similarly bland, even with a squeeze of lime (why lime?), and the brownie offerings (there is a variety) were passable but nothing more. The real shame were the scones (£2 each with jam and cream): the diameter of mugs, they were overly dense, too low and somewhat salty-sweet. Given that the jam was runny (it actually dripped off the side of the scone while you were eating unless you had made a cream reservoir), this was a big disappointment.
I have tended to enjoy the food I’ve had at the Gail’s shops around town, but this delivery fell somewhat short. There was nothing wrong, nothing bad – but there was nothing great. I’d pick something up if I were walking by one of their shops – but I’m not sure I’d pay these quite expensive prices to have it delivered.