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Gayle


Capaneus
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Went Friday. Great food, with one exception: they use the smoker to keep items warm, and smoked bread and apple pie are not my speed. On the other hand, Mr. Stern has very clearly kept the skill he displayed at Le Bec-Fin. An appetizer of Moroccan-spiced braised lamb paired with raw toro was lovely, the seemingly mismatched flavors bridged by cucumber in different iterations: a little mound of puree and a few raw, lightly seasoned slices; I wasn't allowed to touch the risotto fries - apparently too tasty for the likes of me; the skate was delicious, very straightforward preparation, but perfectly executed; duck two ways was likewise delightful. Etc, etc. You get the point: food good, and I would trust this kitchen with *anything* on the menu.

Before you think I'm just shilling for them, though, I have *major* problems with the rest of the Gayle experience. I should say, before continuing, that every staff person we dealt with was perfectly lovely, curteous, helpful and personable. So when I say the place was completely intolerable- at 9:30pm, yet -, you should visualize Azafran that was, then double the number of tables: the space is so infernally crowded, our twosome actually became a foursome, as making new intimate friends was much the better option, since I wasn't able to move without elbowing our neighbors. A server actually did elbow me in the back of the head. I spent a good quarter-hour waiting to be spoken to, on first arriving, and furthermore spent that time trying to negotiate with sundry arrivals and departures for the use of the four square inches of floor available to us all. Blood was not shed, but it was a close-run thing. We were not given the amuse-bouche other tables were offered, most likely because the servers were in permanent overdrive. While these nice young men and women were pleasant and helpful, they clearly did not have the training or experience that allows the staff at La Viola (the only other restaurant in town I think may be as crowded) to minimize the damage to the eating experience.

All in all, I am glad I tasted chef Stern's food, but if I return it will be on an off-day and at an off-time. For the $130 I dropped, not including the wine, I need a bit more space, physically and mentally.

Edited by Capaneus (log)
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All in all, I am glad I tasted chef Stern's food, but if I return it will be on an off-day and at an off-time. For the $130 I dropped, not including the wine, I need a bit more space, physically and mentally.

I went the second day they were open and didn't have to deal with any of the crowd issues, thankfully. I also didn't notice a smoky taste in anything that wasn't supposed to have it, maybe our meals didn't need to be kept warm. The food is excellent, though. We had the beef croquettes and the risotto fingers, both were outstanding. Our entrees were a little on the small side, and not quite as fabulous as the apps, but still great. Did you bring a bottle of wine, or did they finally get their liquor license? We took our own bottle when we went since they weren't serving wine yet, and last I heard they were still waiting for their license.

I don't know if you found out while you were there, but they do reservations and the prix fixe only Friday through Sunday (or maybe it starts on Thursday, I forget). Early in the week you can just walk in, and it's a la carte. Of course, whether you'd actually be able to sit down is another matter..

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All in all, I am glad I tasted chef Stern's food, but if I return it will be on an off-day and at an off-time. For the $130 I dropped, not including the wine, I need a bit more space, physically and mentally.

I went the second day they were open and didn't have to deal with any of the crowd issues, thankfully. I also didn't notice a smoky taste in anything that wasn't supposed to have it, maybe our meals didn't need to be kept warm. The food is excellent, though. We had the beef croquettes and the risotto fingers, both were outstanding. Our entrees were a little on the small side, and not quite as fabulous as the apps, but still great. Did you bring a bottle of wine, or did they finally get their liquor license? We took our own bottle when we went since they weren't serving wine yet, and last I heard they were still waiting for their license.

I don't know if you found out while you were there, but they do reservations and the prix fixe only Friday through Sunday (or maybe it starts on Thursday, I forget). Early in the week you can just walk in, and it's a la carte. Of course, whether you'd actually be able to sit down is another matter..

The prix fixe is just Friday and Saturday, and in this case not necessarily a great deal. Though, actually, since the five-course is *any* five courses, those of boundless appetites could do quite well (you listening, Herb?); and the three courses for forty is reasonable. So money isn't a real issue, though the liquor license - not yet arrived - will probably nudge them out of my comfort zone.

But the crowding is simply insane, and, given the tabling, it's an actual darn *choice* by management, which irks me: it isn't fair to anyone, not the customers, not the servers, not even Chef Stern, whose food deserves better.

And the smoker thing was generally acknowledged the night we were there, but only seemed to apply to a few baked goods (and the steak, where it was advertised and welcome).

Thing is, the place is *really* good, foodwise, which is the only reason I bothered railing at the other stuff. It's just silly. I guess they're trying to recoup the investment, what with the liquor license and all, but it could easily backfire. Just now there's a lot of see-and-be-seen folks coming in, but they could alienate the rest of us with a couple of visits like mine, and the Pretty People will find a new Flavor of the Month and move on...

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The prix fixe is just Friday and Saturday, and in this case not necessarily a great deal. Though, actually, since the five-course is *any* five courses, those of boundless appetites could do quite well (you listening, Herb?); and the three courses for forty is reasonable.

Yes, I'm listening. How much is the five-course rprix fixe?

Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

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The prix fixe is just Friday and Saturday, and in this case not necessarily a great deal. Though, actually, since the five-course is *any* five courses, those of boundless appetites could do quite well (you listening, Herb?); and the three courses for forty is reasonable.

Yes, I'm listening. How much is the five-course prix fixe?

Sixty. Which sounds high. Until you think "Five entrees for twelve bucks apiece"...

Not sure they'd let you get away with it, but the menu does say *any* five menu items.

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The prix fixe is just Friday and Saturday, and in this case not necessarily a great deal. Though, actually, since the five-course is *any* five courses, those of boundless appetites could do quite well (you listening, Herb?); and the three courses for forty is reasonable.

Yes, I'm listening. How much is the five-course prix fixe?

Sixty. Which sounds high. Until you think "Five entrees for twelve bucks apiece"...

Not sure they'd let you get away with it, but the menu does say *any* five menu items.

I think that's pretty good either way. Even if you only went with the middle 3 as entrees, that's still a decent deal.

Remember way back when, when Studiokitchen was only $50 for 4 courses?

Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

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The prix fixe is just Friday and Saturday, and in this case not necessarily a great deal. Though, actually, since the five-course is *any* five courses, those of boundless appetites could do quite well (you listening, Herb?); and the three courses for forty is reasonable.

Yes, I'm listening. How much is the five-course prix fixe?

Sixty. Which sounds high. Until you think "Five entrees for twelve bucks apiece"...

Not sure they'd let you get away with it, but the menu does say *any* five menu items.

I think that's pretty good either way. Even if you only went with the middle 3 as entrees, that's still a decent deal.

Remember way back when, when Studiokitchen was only $50 for 4 courses?

Yup. And it usually was five courses anyway. Good times, good times.
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  • 2 weeks later...
For what it's worth, someone I know talked to someone at Gayle about the cramped seating and apparently they did not add any seats to the place, they just made the tables bigger. So that's why it seems more crowded.

Huh... I'm willing to believe I may be wrong (as if! :raz: ), but I was fairly familiar with Azafran, and I definitely think they *have* added seats. They've also added floor space, with a revised layout, but not nearly proportionally.

In any case, the problem remains - there isn't enough space for patrons to eat or servers to serve - and I think that in time they will be forced to deal with it.

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I live right around the corner from Gayle and pass by it almost daily. Though I haven't been inside yet, I too was quite familiar with Azafran's layout. At one time Azafran was one of my favorite neighborhood places. At least from what can be seen from the street, it definitely looks like there's more bodies jammed in that front room than there used to be.

Capaneus wrong about something??? Pffft! :biggrin:

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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  • 2 weeks later...

Gayle now has a liquor license. We serve mostly wines form the Northwest along with a sampling from the rest of the world. We have a wide selection of wines available by-the-glass, and the prices are fairly reasonable. We serve a few different beers and maintain a full bar. We plan on making some infused vodkas and such down the road. I do not know the policy on corkage fees. I'll keep you posted as I know more. I work in the kitchen, making starters, snacks and pastries - so I don't always know what is happening in the dining room.

As for the seating, I can tell you that the tables are bigger than those at Azafran. We ordered all new tabletops which were six inches wider than the old ones. As it is, people have been ordering so much food it almost doesnt fit on these tables!

For the menu, order any five items you want - no rules. However, I find the pastries to be as interesting and delicious as the entrees. The Three course menu is $42 and the five-course menu is $60. You can always do four or six courses: $42 (3-course)+$8 (dessert) = $50, etc.

Matt Kantor

Cook at Large (but getting thinner)

Haddonfield, NJ at present

e: mattkantor{at}pobox.com

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Matt:

Thanks for the clarification. Nice to have an "insider" answering our questions for us.

Welcome. Glad you decided to come out of "lurkdom" and post! You've got some catching up to do on posting so keep us informed about Gayle and about your other favorites around town. I'm always happy to see more professional voices in our forum. :smile:

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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  • 2 weeks later...
FYI: Gayle is now open until 12:30PM.  Slightly smaller menu, same charm and great taste.

That's great news! Is that every day? (Well, except Sunday when I assume you're closed?) Thanks for sharing the info, we appreciate your contributing here.

Not much info yet at www.gaylephiladelphia.com/

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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FYI: Gayle is now open until 12:30PM.  Slightly smaller menu, same charm and great taste.

More importantly, is there a bar at which one might avail themselves of a glass of the fine wine selection you described?

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Sorry for the lack of detail. We are open until 12:30 on Thursday, Friday, Saturday. We do have an actual bar (albeit small) and liquor license. Most ofthe wines are from the Pacific Northwest.

Matt Kantor

Cook at Large (but getting thinner)

Haddonfield, NJ at present

e: mattkantor{at}pobox.com

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  • 4 weeks later...
What's up with the website ?

Just curious....?

Umm....Uuuuummmmmm....website coming soon?

Sorry, were just trying to keep up with the increased business from some nice write ups. If the site changes, I'll let you know. If you want to know anything about the menu or whatsit, just shoot me an email.

matt@bourrezvisage.com

Matt Kantor

Cook at Large (but getting thinner)

Haddonfield, NJ at present

e: mattkantor{at}pobox.com

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  • 1 month later...

hey gulleteers....

For a pretty high profile chef, I am suprised there is little discussion of Gayle here.

Sup wit That ?

Just read a philly mag review which gives it a B for food and nails it for "cutesy" undecipherable menu language.

Interestingly, they Gave Marigold an A for food........so perhaps Philly Mag's anti BYO slant is a bit overstated ...no ? :shock:

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Im disappointed too....

No comment about the Philadelphia Magazine article, as everyone is entitled to their opinion. I wish they spent more time on discussing the restaurant and less time going on about Le Bec Fin.

I implore people to stop in on a Monday or Tuesday and try some food out. Don't take my word that our food is amazing and our service is top notch - see for yourself. We are doing something great where we are. We just made some menu changes as well, adding a couple of Foie dishes and getting a little more adventurous in general.

Edited by mattkantor (log)

Matt Kantor

Cook at Large (but getting thinner)

Haddonfield, NJ at present

e: mattkantor{at}pobox.com

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i've already been twice... once when gayle opened and another time a few weeks ago and, you're right, the food is amazing. gayle is quickly becoming one of my favorite restaurants

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