Upper Street, Islington must have one of the highest restaurant density per square mile in London, so it really is making a statement to say Galley is one of the brightest new stars to shine on this populated stretch of London.
The restaurant does smart casual better than any catwalk model could ever hope to achieve. There are elegant turquoise banquette seating as well as comfortable looking orange stools that look into their open kitchen. There are beautiful vintage artworks that adorn their walls, which would not look out-of-place in the top art galleries of London. I did have to disagree with my guest who thought the kitchen was less impressive as an open display kitchen, whereas I thought it was perfectly adequate, given guests want to observe the kitchen team in action rather than just check out the expensive designer utensils they might be using.
Head chef, Marcel Grzyb previously worked at Soho’s Randall & Aubin, hence it was unsurprising to find the main focus of the menu was on seafood dishes. We ordered the yellow fin tuna tartare, which tasted as fresh as if it was sea-caught that very morning and no one would imagine using teriyaki sauce on seafood would taste so appetising along with mango, avocado and wasabi nori crisps. The unusual matching of ingredients continued with octopus and chorizo a la plancha; those 2 components appear regularly on restaurant menus but not alongside caramelised onion purée and smoked garlic pesto. You might have your doubts, but the ingredients complement each other well and you feel like they are offering something no other restaurant can offer.
The pan-fried sea bass was another classy affair with a clean-looking and rich tasting truffle oil broth, healthy doses of peas, courgettes and asparagus as well as gnocchi to make sure it is a filling dish. There is less fusion involved with the classic lobster linguine dish, but you feel chef Marcel has extracted every drop of flavour from the lobster to create one of the most deliciously intense linguine you will taste in town. The seafood dishes paired supremely well with a bottle of Picpoul de Pinet, although their unique cocktail offerings are also not to be missed.
Desserts are unavoidable here even if you are calorie-conscious. An elegant-looking citrus tart is flavoured with pineapple and chilli salsa and mango sorbet. Chocolate and orange is always a winning combination, hence their mousse offering is one of the most popular desserts on the menu. It has added layers of taste with the use of salted caramel and added texture with crunchy krispies on top.
Dishes here might appear out of the ordinary as the menu has influences from North Africa, Asia, South America and Europe but somehow chef Marcel has concocted a masterful menu where everything has a place and complements each other. If you want simply cooked food then there is always home cooking, if you want an expertly cooked feast, then visit the Galley today.