Galley is one of those wonderful neighbourhood restaurants that locals don’t wish you to find out about, like a best kept secret. Located on Upper Street near Angel, it occupies a spot surrounded by a mix of chain and boutique restaurants.
The restaurant is owned and operated by Oriona and Marcel, a brother-sister duo. Marcel, who is the Head Chef, has been working in London for almost 20 years. Whilst he is the king of his kitchen, Oriona handles everything else, from the Operations to PR/Marketing. The fact that this is a family run business is further driven home by the fact that Oriona’s husband is the Managing Director of Galley. Oriona herself comes from a fashion design background but has also worked in the F&B business. She has combined both her passions to create this place with her brother. In fact, she has drawn inspiration from her creative background to create the look and feel of the interiors. Done in contrasting colours of blue and green with pops of orange, the space is bright, warm and inviting.
In the front of the restaurant is the bar, with a few tables for couples. Towards the back is the more spacious main dining room, with plenty of booths for a convivial meal with family and/or friends. There is an open plan kitchen with bar stools to catch the behind-the-scenes action and admire the food on the pass.
The menu has a fish and seafood emphasis, although there are some wonderful plant-based and meat dishes as well. They also do a stellar weekend brunch.
Oysters are their speciality and we were encouraged to try some.
Being winter, we tried a selection of their warm oysters that included:
Crispy Tempura Oyster |Tomato and Chilli Jam
The underlying tomato sauce had a pleasant kick to it, which helped balance the fried texture of the tempura. You don’t get the full taste of the oyster thanks to the light batter surrounding it so this is a great way to introduce oysters to a first-timer or for those who don’t like the in-your-face rawness of oyster meat.
Grilled Oyster Rockefeller
The meaty, fatty oyster was nicely grilled, topped with buttery spinach and crumbs for crunch. They say butter makes everything better and it was definitely the case here.
Oven Baked Oyster – Tomato and crispy chorizo
It had a more pronounced flavour compared to the others thanks to the gutsy chorizo.
All the oysters were exquisite; each one a sexy, succulent morsel. But my personal favourite was the Grilled Oyster Rockefeller, with its bubbly, unctuous taste. Alongside our oysters, we sipped a beautiful French Muscadet, which was dry and quite mineral with a lovely golden colour. It was a good choice to pair with the oysters to cut through the creaminess of the meat and give it some freshness.
Moving on, we shared a trio of modish small plates as starters.
Halloumi chips |Tomatillo, Jalapeño Salsa
The chips were a fine rendition. In fact, we marvelled at the uniform precision and perfection with which they had been hand-cut and stacked like a Jenga tower. It had a nice dusting of paprika and sesame seeds to add interest. Overall, a decent dish for those who like their fried cheese. I was expecting the jalapeno to be slightly more spicy but it was more on the sweet side which helped cut the saltiness of the halloumi.
Smoked Burrata | Oven-dried Tomatoes, Basil oil, Roasted Hazelnut
The smoked burrata dish had all my favourite ingredients, textures and flavours. It looked colourful and cheery on the plate. The burrata was of the brilliant quality – creamy, lusciously stringy and deliciously savoury with a mild smokiness. It was a cold starter, full of oily, Mediterranean goodness. The roasted hazelnuts added bite to balance all those soft textures. Overall, a very aromatic and beautiful dish with contrasting colours.
Octopus & Chorizo a la plancha |Caramelised Onion Purée, Smoked Garlic pesto
The softly charred octopus was a great complementary pairing with the chorizo. The underlying dip had a surprising sweetness to it but the heat from the chorizo oil and the punch from basil pesto balanced it quite well.
For our mains, the choice was unanimous – it had to be the Seafood Platter.
It arrived at our table, impressively overflowing with the full spectrum of every kind of seafood imaginable – king prawns, shrimps, mussels, clams, soft shell crab and sea bass. My biggest bugbear in UK restaurants is that seafood platters, if not raw and fresh, come deep fried. But this one was served cooked and warm without overpowering the flavours of the sea. Not only was every ingredient of the freshest quality, but even the accompaniments were carefully considered. For someone who likes seafood and also like their food hot, this was my idea of foodie heaven.
In terms of individual elements: the soft shell crab was fantastic wrapped in a light batter. The bass was cooked very well; its skin crisped to perfection. The plump mussels and clams were a revelation. They came swimming in a lovely aromatic broth with oriental inflections. There were hints of ginger, coriander and chilli in it – a perfect winter warmer.
My only minor complaint was instead of using the fronds of samphire as a decorative element on the platter, they could have served it as a dish on its own.
We matched our platter with a lovely carafe of Sauvignon Blanc. It was pale in colour, very zesty and went very well with the all the seafood.
For £50 for two, the Seafood Platter is generously portioned, great value and a must order. Visually, it is stunning and a true headline act.
A glorious meal such as this needed a befitting ending . We couldn’t think of a better choice than the Dark Chocolate and Amaretto Fondant, Milk Ice-Cream, Berry sauce. It arrived smelling divine and full of razzmatazz. The firm exterior offered a slight resistance before giving way to create a rich, gooey, chocolatey, boozy mess. A truly delightful dessert!
The service was consistently good. Our hostess of the evening, Ella, looked after us well. She was very knowledgeable, patiently answered all our questions and gave good recommendations on the food and wine pairing. During our visit, the restaurant was buzzing with the happy chatter of diners on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Galley as a restaurant surpassed all our expectations with its elegant looking, beautifully tasting dishes cooked with finesse. To add to it, they have an impressive wine list and top-notch service. The term “hidden gem” is a bit of a cliché but if I could use it, it would make the most sense here.
Location: 105-106 Upper St, London N1 1QN
N.B. Our meal was complimentary but all photos and opinions are mine.