As this year’s most exciting addition to the Islington dining scene, Galley has garnered plenty of praise since its opening. Polish-born Marcel Grzyb and Oriona Robb are the brother-sister team behind the new restaurant, with Marcel taking over the kitchen, having spent 10 years as Head Chef at Soho’s Randall & Aubin.
Egg-shell blue walls complement the teal velvet seating and copper accents, which contrast strikingly with a black and white geometric ceiling, palm-print wall and low hanging bulbs. Here, guests can drink and dine at counter-seating, or elbow to elbow at the dark-wood and marble-effect candlelit tables. A soundtrack of upbeat music mingles with the buzz of diners and sizzle from the open kitchen.
With a promising menu of artisanal cocktails – and a whole page of G&Ts, too – this seems a good way to start, with plenty to choose from including the Galley Boulevard, a potent mix of Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Cynar liqueur – curiously, artichoke based – Campari and Kahlua, and the velvety DeLight with Prosecco, vanilla tincture and raspberry purée.
Seafood is unsurprisingly (with a name like Galley) the focus here. For the unadulterated kind, Dungarvan and Morecambe Bay oysters appear first on the menu – the delicate Dungarvan variety winning us over with their distinctly sweet taste – followed by lobster and shellfish laden seafood platters. The rest of the menu gives diners a choice of small plates (ideal for sharing) or large plates, better suited to tucking into on your own.
Small plates include a tender yellowfin tuna tartare, which comes with a sumptuously sticky-sweet teriyaki sauce, and a mango and avocado salsa that’s best scooped up with its accompanying wasabi nori crisps. The aromatic flavours of the chargrilled tiger prawns, meanwhile, sing when eaten with its simultaneously-sweet-and-sharp salsa of mango, paw paw, chilli and lime.
From the large plates, it’s hard to resist the temptation of grilled lobster, which – grilled with garlic butter – is mouth-wateringly succulent with luxuriously velvety claw meat. The seared tuna niçoise also lets the quality of ingredients speak for itself, and is elegantly plated with al dente potatoes, quail’s eggs and shots of flavour from the capers and silver anchovies.
Galley’s menu as a whole features an uncompromising eclecticism of international culinary influences but when the flavours marry so eloquently, it’s hard to criticise such global enthusiasm. And while seafood is dominant, meat-eaters are catered for too, with positively carnivorous options like spiced lamb rack, and British rib eye steak on the bone.
The short and sweet dessert menu offers a well-curated selection of indulgence. The Amaretto & Verona chocolate fondant is suitably decadent, oozing with rich chocolate and cherry compote, but it’s the salted caramel tart that steals the final show with its unctuous caramel filling complemented by fragrant green tea ice cream, and chilli and hazelnut praline.
While the restaurant was a little empty when we arrived, by the second course it was truly buzzing. And throughout the night, the service was on-point, too – faultless, but without the kind of formality that would be out of a place in such an upbeat setting. If good food, a warm ambience and stylish décor were what this brother-sister team were striving for, we’d say that Galley is achieving this ambition gracefully.
Words by Lauren Hill