On the Cheap: Gail's Café & Grill

Home-style classics in Jackson Square
By ARIEL SHEARER  |  August 8, 2012

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Back in October, the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation brought affordable apartments to Jackson Square with new construction at 270 Centre Street. The building's ground floor is now home to locally owned businesses, including a modernized home-style eatery called Gail's Café & Grill.

Aiming to please the variegated tastes of their bustling neighborhood community, Gail's offers an extensive menu of fast-casual classics, ranging from spinach pie to barbecue, rice and beans to fresh haddock. The humble diner opened in April with a prime storefront location, just steps outside Jackson Square's MBTA station.

Gail's assortment of dinner options are bait for hungry homebound commuters, and a case full of cakes could catch your eye through a window even if you bypass the door. I recommend choosing a meal after you've decided on dessert — because cake like Tres Leches ($2.95/slice) deserves advanced planning.

The truth is I rarely consume cake, don't ever drink milk, and almost never eat myself into a stomachache. But the day I tried Gail's Tres Leches — a dense yellow cake traditionally soaked in three kinds of milk and topped with rich whipped frosting — I left wishing I'd completely skipped the pulled-pork sandwich ($6.95) and steamed vegetables ($3.95), and saved room for another slice.

When I stopped by Gail's last month, on the first day they started serving breakfast, my egg-and-cheese on croissant ($2.95) came perfectly over-medium — an unexpected, praise-worthy surprise. I overcook an egg almost every morning while trying for this yolk consistency ideal for breakfast sandwiches, and most greasy spoons just default to over-hard. Gail's even did justice to New England iced coffee ($1.85), making this the best $5 breakfast I've found in months.

Later in the day, Gail's serves hearty meals like barbecue ribs ($11.95/four ribs) and rotisserie chicken ($10.95/half chicken), plus seafood plates like fresh native haddock ($12.95) and comfort-food sides like rice pilaf ($2.25) and roasted lemon potatoes ($3.95).

Adorning the dining-room walls is the winter-themed artwork of Gail Callahan, a tribute to the local artist and restaurant owner's wife who inspired the café's name — and an emblem of small business proud to be a part of neighborhood revitalization.

GAIL'S CAFÉ & GRILL, located at 268 Centre Street, Jamaica Plain, is open Monday–Thursday, 7:30am–8pm, and Friday-Saturday, 7:30am–9pm. Closed Sundays. Call 617.942.2096 or visit gailscafeandgrill.com.

Related: Review: Sweet Cheeks, On the Cheap: East Ocean City, Review: Artisan Bistro, More more >
  Topics: On The Cheap , Small Business, food and dining
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